Monday, June 20, 2022

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is on 20th June. How is Priti Patel celebrating? With a little smirk?



Union bashing

The government, the BBC and the press is engaging  in union bashing on a scale not seen since the 1960s. Grant Shapps seems to be living in a world of his own. As the old saying has it - the Tories seldom talk about class war because they are too busy waging it.

Biased story after story has people saying how inconvenient the rail strike would be. If the train drivers were not providing an essential service then a strike would inconvenience nobody.

In real terms the pay of train drivers has declined.

And if the BBC is disgusting, the right wing press is even more so.

In the world according to the Daily Mail, strikes are a "plague". We now know what a plague is like. Workers wanting a decent wage is not the same as a 100000 Covid deaths due to government incompetence.

 The rail workers are fortunate to have a trade union which will fight.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Letter to MP

"I am a voter in your constituency. I have tried an example of the test to which children will be subjected and I did not pass. The test is available at

Try it for yourself and think how stressful it must be for children. I am writing to ask you to use your influence to call on the government to review statutory assessments in primary schools. "

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Pensioner Poverty

A report commissioned by Independent Age from the City University of London has drawn attention to the growing problem of pensioner poverty.

Since 2012, there has been a slow but steady rise in income poverty among older people, with now almost 1 in 5 older people (18%) in relative income poverty after housing costs.
The report concludes that:
• Poverty in later life is a growing problem in the UK.
• There are stark inequalities in later life that greatly increase the chances of entering poverty past retirement age for some groups, including private and social renters, black and Asian older people, and single women.
• Though older people’s income fluctuates less than in younger groups, there is still movement in and out of poverty, with 40% of pensioners spending at least one year in poverty in a nine-year period.
• Changes in social benefit income are the biggest single cause for older people entering and exiting poverty.
• Tackling poverty in later life requires an ambitious strategy to tackle poverty at all ages, while maximising the effectiveness of existing programmes.

Independent Age is a charity and feels constrained to vague suggestions. Socialists are under no such constraint.

One reason for pensioner poverty is the fact that the UK pension is the most pathetic in Europe. Pensioners are urged to join the TUC demonstration on 18 June to make sure our voice is heard.

Capitalism throws old workers on the scrap heap. Without the working-class movement there would be no pensions at all. Pensioners would be left with the right to die.

An alliance with Socialists and Trade Unionists is the most powerful way to remind this wretched government that pensioners have rights and pensioners have votes.


 The full report is here

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Kevin Courtney at the Retired Member's conference

These are my notes from the conference.

The importance the union attaches to retired members is shown by the fact Kevin came to address the conference.

NEU Priority Campaigns for 2022

Cost of Living

The costs of living crisis  is bearing down on those least able to cope. Relative poverty is a disgrace but we are getting stories of hungry children. It is also bearing down on support staff colleagues and pensioners.

Nobody is saying 8% is too ambitious for the pay claim now.

There will be a ballot over strike action in October.

Co-ordination of NEU with the unions for support staff will be important in any proposed strike action.

Right now there  has to be a political pressure on the government for a windfall tax on the rich to help those most affected by cost of living.

We are mobilising for the TUC demonstration on 18 June.

We are not used to organising, we have got out of the habit. We are getting back into it!


This job used to be different.

Teachers and support staff have to fight against a bureaucracy which does not trust them. The joy in teaching is something teachers have to fight for.

Recruitment is at an all-time low.

Other jobs can work from home. The government will have to pay for this lack of flexibility in teaching.

We are seeking to motivate action at school level. There have been successes in having work/life balance policies in individual schools and academy trusts .

The disgrace of the Schools Bill being put to parliament.

It should be dealing with all the problems -

mental health problems post lockdown

recruitment and retention

Schools being turned into exam factories

The central issue in the Bill is structural. They want more Academies. At the present rate it would take forty years to academise every school.

The government data is flawed. The national statistical authority has taken this on board and expressed concern to the government.

There is no evidence that multi academy trusts improve school performance.

One reason schools oppose joining is that they cannot leave.

We can put grit in the wheels.

Legal challenges and strike action have both been effective.

A letter is going out to schools to promote this.


Kevin is the one on the right.