Friday, 11 July 2008

The Green Party: True Champion of the Labour Movement

With the Green Party Trade Union Group holding its first national conference in Brighton this weekend, it seems as though finally the Green Party has become the true home of the Labour movement.

The slowly souring relationship between the Labour Party and the Trade Unions (we'll see the latest chapter of this story play itself out next week when local government workers walk out on strike at the Government's latest poverty wage settlement for public sector workers) is reminiscent of that between a victim of domestic violence and her abusive partner: however much the Labour government abuses the unions their members struggle to walk away that final time.

But all this is beginning to change as unionists increasingly recognise that the Green Party's record of championing Trade Union priorities, from defending public services from privatisation through to promoting a Living Wage, demonstrates that they are the real party of social justice.

The fact is there is no contradiction between policies to save the planet and policies to protect workers' rights.

And the stark reality is that climate change is not just an environmental issue: it's a social issue, and it's the world's poorest that will pay the heaviest price.

Taking steps to cut carbon emissions could create thousands of new jobs. A recent study by the European Trade Union Commission found that job opportunities were likely to rise if governments cut emissions, and that moves towards a zero carbon economy can be ones that enhance employment.

A zero-carbon world is a labour-intensive world. Some jobs would certainly be lost in some of the more carbon intensive industries, but these would more than be made up for by new jobs in an economy based on repairing, recycling, and re-use.

Greens and Trade Unions are working ever-more closely together as we realise we share strong principles of social justice, wealth redistribution, public services and sustainability - and that we are prepared to argue for them and to be prepared to stand up for them, clearly and strongly.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

New Brighton branch of Anti Acadmies Alliance formed to defend state education at Falmer


GROUP TO PROTEST OUTSIDE COUNCIL OFFICES : 4pm, 10th July, Outside Hove Town Hall

A new Brighton and Hove branch of the Anti-Academies Alliance has been formed to oppose proposals to replace Falmer High School with a City Academy, following a public meeting called by the Green Party. Some fifty people attended, including teachers and parents of children at Falmer High School, members of relevant trade unions and staff from both Brighton and Sussex universities.

Speakers included Green Party Education Spokesperson Cllr Rachel Fryer, Linda Newman (outgoing president of the Universities and Colleges Union and a former pupil at Falmer High School), and Alistair Smith, the National Secretary of the
Anti Academies Alliance and a teacher and lecturer in education.

The meeting was chaired by Cllr Ben Duncan, prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown.

Cllr Duncan (Green Party, Queen's Park), said:

"I'm delighted that there was such enthusiasm from parents and teachers in Moulescoomb and the surrounding area to defend a local school from what is, at it's heart, an attack on community run education. Plans for an academy are a big gamble - with our children's future at stake."

The meeting saw animated debate about the proposals to close Falmer High and replace it with an academy, including much discussion of the downsides which were not heard at the recent council-held meeting at the high school.

These centred around:

* the future of children with special education needs
* children whose aptitudes or enthusiasm lay outside of the academies planned specialities of sport or entrepreneurship
* the role replacing the high school with an academy will play in education privatisation

The meeting heard that the proposed academy:

* would not have to follow the national curriculum
* would not have to meet existing staff's pay and conditions into the long term
* would not have to follow the councils admissions policy.

Concerns were also raised that recent government figures suggested that 20 per cent of maintained comprehensive schools were under performing while a third of academies were.

The meeting heard how the proposed sponsor, Rod Aldridge, stood to make financial gains from the proposal. Questioned were raised about his motives, and one speaker challenged him to give money to benefit the education system in Brighton and Hove without demanding control of a state school.

A planning meeting for the new group took place after the meeting and it expects to hold its first demonstration before the Council's next cabinet meeting, which takes place from 4pm on July 10th at Hove town hall.