Sunday, 23 June 2013

Unite for our communities



Torbay Fightback has been involved in many campaigns since its formation in the autumn of 2012. However there comes a realisation that in order to make necessary changes in our society it is no good being insular or isolated. Therefore the time has come for Fightback members and supporters to look at the broader picture and how to help build a mass movement against austerity. To do so means being part of the basis of such a movement, and it is viewed that the Trade Union movement, which is at the heart of the struggle is the best way to proceed.

For example, look at the Unite Trade Union, the largest and possibly the most influential in the country. It is pioneering community based Trade Unionism, helping communities across the country not only in the fight against austerity, but also in improving local facilities and social cohesion.

Unite was one of the many Trade Unions involved with the fantastic ‘People’s Assembly Against Austerity’ held in London. This is another example of the excellent work of the combined effort of the Trade Unions and those in the labour movement. This single event has marked what is hoped will be the turning of the tide in the battle against cutbacks and delivering a fairer society, and why it is so important to align ourselves with a movement that is prominent in delivering that task.

Those in work should support the work of their Trade Union. Those out of work should look at joining the Unite community branch. All of us now need to work to build pro-active Trade Union participation in our communities.

As previously mentioned, Fightback has been active since last autumn and effective in organising several campaigns as well as the May Day rally. We now need to move on to the next step and not be active as a lone pressure group, but within the wider Trade Union movement. This may alienate some people (especially those that wish to carry on an isolated fight as a local group), but we have to look at the best way forward for the anti austerity and labour movement as a whole. That means laying down our lone Torbay Fightback banner and working within the Trade Union movement.

The link below is to the Unite Community Branch page





Friday, 24 May 2013

Marching Against Monsanto

 Marching Against Monsanto

Torbay Fightback, will be marching on Saturday 25th May to show their opposition to the multinational Monsanto corporation. The march is part of an international day of action against the biotechnology giant, with an estimated 200,000 people marching worldwide.

With scientists indicating their GMO seeds have caused colony collapse among the world’s bee population, Torbay Fightback is concerned at the damage Monsanto will wreak upon the fragile eco-system in its quest for increased profits.  There are also health concerns, with research showing that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer, infertility and birth defects.

Monsanto has connections with the US military, and was involved in the development of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war.

Torbay Fightback is hoping this action will highlight the damage Monsanto is inflicting upon the world. We call on stores throughout South Devon to stop stocking Monsanto products such as Roundup.  We ask for local councillors, the Mayor of Torbay and Chambers of Commerce to support condemnation of this company, and help drive their products from the shelves of stores in this area.  Our message is simple. Let’s make South Devon a greener place but ridding DIY stores and garden centres of Monsanto products.

The march takes place at 12noon, from Speakers Corner (near Big Wheel) Torquay Seafront, finishing for a meeting at the Torquay Arts House in Market Street.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Fightback revive Bay's May Day rally



Around 30 people gathered in the English Riviera sunshine on May 5th for the first International Workers day event in Torbay for many years.

Representatives had been invited from a number of Trade Unions and political parties of the left, but only official representatives from the Unite community branch, Torbay Trades Council and the Communist Party of Britain attended. Apologies were received from CND and Exeter Left Unity, Sean Brogan of the Socialist Party and Lynton North of Green Left. Others spoke in an individual capacity.

The event took the form of an ‘Occupy’ style open discussion, with everyone given the opportunity to say a few words. People spoke about the Bedroom Tax, cutting Civil List payments, the Living Wage, unemployment, privatisation and the Bedroom Tax,  with some speaking on personal experiences. However the overall theme was of unity in the face of savage attacks by the ConDems on ordinary people.

The event ended with live music in the form of protest songs from up and coming musician Steven Moonfox Gladwyn and friends.

The format, although totally different from other May Day rallies, was more people orientated and it seemed to work. Torbay Fightback hope to be involved in organising another rally next year.


People gathering at the first International Workers Day event in Torbay for many years


All those present had an opportunity to speak

  
Tim Gulliver, Executive Committee member of the Communist Party of Britain spoke at the rally


 
Unison member and secretary of Torbay & District Anti Cuts Alliance, Michelle Louise Goodman


Anarchist, Anonymous and Communist Party flags at the rally

The Morning Star on sale


Music to end the rally
 

Arts House ushers in another revolution



Market Street in Torquay, home of the famous bread riots of the 19th century, has now witnessed another revolution, with the arrival of the Torquay Arts House.

The Arts House is a newly opened squatted active space, ran by and completely for members of the local community.
 
It invites all progressive artists, musicians and political activists to join in creating an open community atmosphere brimming with positive local vibes. It has already hosted and a successful open mike evening, and houses ‘The Really Really Free Market’ (take & donate), meditation classes, library, dance classes, film nights and much, much more.

The Arts House stresses as a community project it can only achieve these endeavours with the help the community and asks the wider public to support this unique venture and if possible  

Volunteers are always welcome and should contact Torquayartshouse@hotmail.co.uk


Fightback in Job Centre Benefits Protest



On the 24th April, Torbay Fightback activists gathered at Torquay Job centre to protest the largest attack on the welfare state in living memory. Hundreds of flyers were distributed to claimants and members of the public, with some claimants discussing issues with the Fightback members. 

In January the ConDem coalition voted in another round of austerity measures aimed at setting the working classes, the deprived and most vulnerable the task of reducing the budget deficit – whilst the millionaires were allowed to get off (to offshore tax havens in some cases) virtually scot free. It has to be pointed out these attacks have been phased in by the British bourgeoisie over a number of years and didn’t just start with the ConDems 

To start, the government has placed a cap of 1% increase per annum for a period of three years on all welfare benefits. This has jettisoned the link of benefits to inflation that had previously been in place. When we consider that the present level for JSA is £71 (if you are 25 or over, £56.25 if under), an already impoverished situation is bound to get worse. The Department of Works and Pensions has insisted that this is not a cut, but is committed to establishing a further £10 billion ‘saving’ in the welfare bill in the coming period.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, has promised to introduce a ‘Universal Benefit’ which will impose a £500 ceiling on all benefits for every household. This is currently being trialled in different boroughs in the country because the DWP does not have in place the infra-structure to implement it immediately. However, the cuts will still take place. These cuts will affect JSA, working tax credits, and pension credits. The Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by a ’Personal Independence Payment’.

The cuts to child credit payment will affect 2.5 million single women workers and a further million whose partners are in work. This in effect will be throwing millions of children into poverty. The Child Poverty Action Group has said that these changes will cut 4% from benefits over the next three years. The overall plan is to subsume all payments into the one ‘Universal Benefit’ payment. The government will thus cut its welfare bill. All the guff about lazy ‘shirkers’ versus hard-working ‘strivers’ is just so much camouflage to hide the attacks. According to another report, this time by the Children’s Society, “up to 40,000 soldiers, 300,000 nurses and 150,000 primary and nursery school teachers will lose cash, in some cases many hundreds of pounds” (Guardian 5/1/13) So much for targeting ‘shirkers’!

The government has placed a cap of £500 per household per week on the rent of a family home. In places like London this is impossible for many to find. According to the government’s own figures on risk assessment, this will affect some 2.8 million people. 400,000 of the poorest people will be included. 300,000 households stand to lose more than £300 per week.
The government in its ‘war on welfare dependency’ will hit the young hardest. The government intends to refuse housing benefit to the under 25’s. This is to effectively throw thousands of young people onto the streets.

The government is also cutting its subsidies to local councils by 10% while leaving local authorities to implement the cuts in Council Tax payments. This will mean an average £10 per week that social tenants will have to find to supplement their rents. Those occupying dwellings which have a spare bedroom will have to find a minimum of £10 per week under the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ since they now fall into the “over occupancy” category. This will again hit young people the hardest. The homeless charity Shelter say that only 1 in 5 of rental homes are affordable to single people on benefits.

The attacks are only just beginning. The benefit cuts are part of a wider push to make the working class pick up the bill for their crisis. If the working class is to mount any resistance to this offensive, it must reject out of hand all attempts to make it feel responsible for the crisis of capitalism, and all the nauseating campaigns about shirkers and strivers, which are aimed at dividing the working class. Unemployment and poverty are the product of capitalism in crisis and the working class can only defend itself by developing its unity in the struggle against this system.


Torbay Fightback is planning further Job Centre activity as part of its battles against benefit cuts.


If you have a story to tell about how benefit cuts affect you, or would like to be part of any future protests please get in touch at torbayfightback@activist.com



Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Greetings to all workers across South Devon on May Day 2013. We hope to see many of you at Torbay's first event to celebrate International Workers Day on Sunday 5th May.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Support Torbay's first International Workers Day event on May 5th



Torbay is the third largest conurbation in Devon. It has high rates of unemployment, low wages and increasing levels of poverty. But despite these factors Torbay and South Devon as a whole is a bit of a political backwater, its population largely content to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the huge inequality and unfairness instead of voicing their frustrations.


In November 2011 the people of the area did raise their heads briefly when more than one thousand Trade Unionists and supporters marched through Torquay. Since then, there has been little in the way of public opposition to the coalition’s austerity measures, though Torbay Fightback have been quite active recently. This is one of the reasons why Torbay Fightback is keen to sow the seeds for an annual International Workers Day event in the Bay, and our intention is that Sunday May 5th can sow those very seeds.


One thing we want to make absolutely clear is that this is not just a Torbay Fightback activity. It’s an activity for all workers, Trade Unionists, the unemployed, low waged, pensioners, peace campaigners, environmentalists, in fact anyone that is concerned about the ConDem coalition’s austerity measures is more than welcome to come along and have a say, or just listen to others. It is a real grass roots ‘people’ event.


Admittedly with Torbay not being a hotbed of political activity we do not envisage a large turnout. But what we want to see following this event is politically active people in South Devon’s labour movement sitting down and planning something for next year. As previously mentioned, Torbay is the third largest conurbation in the county and its social ingredients of low wages, unemployment and poverty means it should have an event to mark International Workers Day to highlight these issues and build solidarity in opposing them. This can no longer be ignored by Torbay’s labour movement.


The venue for what we believe will be Torbay’s first ever International Workers Day event is the former Hi-Flyer balloon site on Torquay Seafront, at 1.00p.m on Sunday 5th May.

Speakers have been invited from various Trade Unions, Torbay Trades Council and others in the labour and peace movements, but there will be an ‘open mic’ to have your say. We even welcome people wishing to sing the odd protest song.

Come and show solidarity with your fellow workers by being part of this event.


If you require more details please contact torbayfightback@activist.com