Strike action, picketing, a rally in Market Square, and a Question Time Panel where local MP Eric Ollerenshaw (pic) will have to answer to the public for his government's policies on the NHS, pensions, and cuts are all planned in Lancaster for next Thursday 30 June.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)has 290,000 members and is the UK's largest civil service trade union. It opposes cuts to pensions, jobs, spending and privatisation. Its strike action on June 30 is likely to bring courts, ports and job centres to a standstill for the day.
Strike action on the 30th by the NUT, ATL and UCU will affect most schools, colleges and universities. The National Association of Headteachers has said they will not strike but that schools deemed unable to run safely with reduced staff numbers will close for the day.
Teachers are particularly concerned at the coalition government's breaking of pension agreements that will result in their contributions being increased by 50%, their benefits reduced by 17% and both sexes working to the age of 66. Many consider the management, education and inspiration of large groups of children, from tots to teens, by a class teacher old enough to be their great-grandparent, an impossible notion.
Single parent families, already, on average, the poorest in our society, are to experience government cuts of 8% to their benefits overall, making them the group most damaged by the cuts in every sector. They are the most vulnerable to fiscal predation being, by their circumstances, isolated, ununionised and without resources. As they are predominantly women, the government's message that women must be deterred from raising families alone, even when thay have no choice or face abuse, is clear.
The second most vulnerable group is the disabled, which includes many elderly people, who have suffered swingeing cuts in services, and benefits, as well as facing reduced pensions and reduced monitoring of those services they do receive, leaving them more exposed to endemic abuse.
The L&M Claimants Union, Lancaster Women Against Cuts, and the Lancaster District Pensioners’ Campaign Group are also taking action in support of the official strike.
Unison, the health workers union, is planning industrial action in the autumn, which would affect hospitals and medical centres.
As well as various picket line actions, a rally will be held on 30 June in Lancaster's Market Square. Events will start at 11am, culminating in the main rally between 12.15 and 1pm. There will be live music, street theatre, face-painting and balloons for kids and speeches from unions and community action groups.
In the evening there will be a Question Time Public Panel on NHS privatisation, held in the Hugh Pollard Lecture Theatre, University of Cumbria (St Martins)from 7.30-9.30pm. MP Eric Ollerenshaw will be on the panel.
Called "NHS - Going, going, gone?" it will be hosted by LINk (not LMATC as we previously, mistakenly reported). The people of Lancaster can put questions to our MP and others and join in the debate about the future of the NHS. Other Panel members will be:
Dr David Wrigley, Carnforth GP, member of Keep Our NHS Public
Mr Bryan Rhodes, Consultant Orthopaedic Consultant
Caroline Collins, Lancashire LINk Board member
Chair: Dr Maggie Mort, School of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University
Please send an email to elham[AT]thebha.org.uk or call 387835 if you'd like to book a place or send in questions for the panel. There will be places available on the night for people who have not registered too.
See campus map (click on 'buildings' and '21')