Resistance is growing to the fact that as many as 140 asylum seekers will be made destitute in Glasgow in the next few weeks.
This follows a change of provider of accommodation from Ypeople, a British based Christian charity, to Serco an international conglomerate providing essential services in more than 30 countries. In the UK it runs electronic tagging, video surveillance, nuclear weapons maintenance, several prisons and two immigration removal centres.
At a rally of around 200 people on Thursday 12 April 2012, at the foot of the Red Road flats which are home to many asylum seekers, speaker after speaker spoke out against the inhumanity of putting vulnerable people onto the streets.
Chair of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Glasgow, John Matthews, told the crowd: ‘In Europe in living memory Jews were first of all refused the right to work, then removed from their homes. I see Glasgow going that way more and more with the asylum seekers. Asylum is a right under the United Nations Convention so don’t be put off by this struggle.’ The NUJ is the first trades union to count journalists who are seeking asylum, as full members of the union and it is encouraging other trades unions to do the same.
Jim Main of UNISON said that Ypeople’s proposal to throw out asylum seekers from their accommodation was ‘outrageous.’ He went on: ‘We will fight this through every trades unions branch. This is a civil emergency and we must demonstrate to prevent this happening. We must show we are a Glasgow that cares. Everyone must ask questions of people in power.’
Speaking as a Justice and Peace campaigner for the Catholic church, Carol Clarke stated: ‘People must be given human dignity and that means a roof over their head.’
College lecturer, Barrie Levine, praised the Scottish Government for its ‘excellent support.’ Both First Minister Alex Salmond and his Deputy Nicola Sturgeon had sent apologies and messages of support to the rally organisers. Said Barrie: ‘That is excellent, but I want to see Alex Salmond make representation to the UK Government which controls UK Borders Agency (UKBA) and I want to see him fully support our protests and make sure civilised values are brought into play. The Big Society should be called the Sick Society. It is a scandal that people are being made destitute and put onto the street. Make no mistake, Serco has this £175 million contract. But the Ypeople’s Board should hang their heads in shame. There is no need to evict anyone right now.’
In her address to the crowd, SNP MSP, Sandra White, said: ‘we have proposed practical ways forward. The Ypeople have a window of opportunity as they do not need to evict anyone till November. We have asked the Scottish Parliament Secretary for External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, to make our views known at Westminster. We are asking for the people who cannot be returned to places like Iran, Iraq and Somali because of wars, to be granted refugee status.’
Afro-Caribbean centre organiser Graham Campbell said: ‘The Ypeople Board should not be allowed to do this. It is disgusting. We should all tell them that in writing. The Afro-Caribbean Centre charity is refusing to work with Ypeople till it withdraws the threat of making destitute asylum seekers, homeless. It is a UK government issue and we must demand it be stopped.’
In a passionate speech, Angela McCormick of the Stop the War Coalition, declared: ‘We are here today to show Serco, Ypeople, Glasgow City Council, and everyone else that we will stand with those who have fled oppression – usually war. The link between this Coalition and the asylum seekers is that many of them have fled from war zones, bombs, missiles and weapons of destruction. They have come here seeking sanctuary. But how do we treat them? They are made destitute, kept in poverty and now being forced out of their homes.’ She added: ‘I believe we are the sensible majority. We do not want this to happen. Remember the people who fuelled the wars which caused the asylum seekers to flee in the first instance are the very people who make money from selling the missles and weapons of war.’
Organised by the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, master of ceremonies, Jock Morris commented: ‘We want to send a statement to the UK Government and the Scottish Government saying lound and clear – refugees and asylum seekers are WELCOME HERE.’ On a show of hands practically everyone in the crowd agreed with the statement.
‘We are now organising another, bigger rally at the STUC in Woodlands Road, on Tuesday 17 April 2012 to decide on the best way forward, together,’ said Margaret Wood of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees. Everyone concerned about this issue is invited.’
Currently around half a dozen destitute asylum seekers are given overnight accommodation each night in a safe, warm place, with an evening meal, a full breakfast and a takeaway lunch pack. But that number is expected to increase dramatically as soon as Ypeople start evicting asylum seekers.
An exhibition entitled ‘Antifascistas’ tells the story of the 2,500 volunteers from the British Isles who joined the legendary International Brigades to defend democracy during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. It will be on display in the offices of the Glasgow Branch of UNISON at 84 Bell Street, G1 1LQ between 12 noon and 4pm on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April and from 9.30pm till 4pm from Monday 30 April till Thursday 3 May.
Produced by the International Brigade Memorial Trust, the exhibition sets out the reasons why the volunteers took the extraordinary decision to risk their lives in a foreign war – in which more than 500 of them died.
The role of the British Battalion in many of the key battles in Spain is described, along with brief biographies of outstanding individuals who took part. ‘Antifascistas’ also details the heroic work of the medical volunteers in makeshift hospitals near the front line.
In addition, the exhibition considers the cultural and artistic impact of the International Brigades and their historical legacy, underlining the importance today of remembering their example of international solidarity.
Using many contemporary photographs and striking images, ‘Antifascistas’ brings to life the idealism, commitment and sacrifice of these exceptional men and women who served in the International Brigades and continued the fight against fascism during the Second World War and beyond.
For further information contact: email@example.com
Tel: 020 8555 6674
Glasgow City Council is using the national policy of Personalisation to cut £10 million from the city’s social work budget. That was the unanimous view of more than 80 people who attended a conference to support disabled people in Glasgow and to discuss and organise against the cuts in services.
Organised by the trade union UNISON, along with Defend Glasgow Services Campaign, the Social Work Action Network and city disability groups, the meeting was held on Saturday 10 March in UNISON’s Bell Street offices.
Around 30 of those attending were service users.
Speakers explained how, in their opinion, the Council has rushed ahead with the implementation of the national policy of Personalisation which is also known as Self Directed Support. ‘This is primarily a way to save money,’ said one spokesperson. ‘The council claims that 20% of current funding can either be “redirected” to other support services or used to help meet the Social Work Department’s annual cuts targets. In 2012/13 they intend to use Personalisation to cut £10 million from the city’s social work budget,’ delegates were warned.
No one at the conference disagreed with the principles underpinning Personalisation. ‘Who is against choice, services tailored to individual needs and empowerment? However, the way in which Glasgow City Council has chosen to implement Personalisation is leading to cuts in support, less choice, poorer quality services and attacks on support workers’ wages and conditions.’ claimed speaker after speaker. ‘A market driven approach to social care will only lead to a “race to the bottom” and damage the current support services in the city.’
The conference called on the Council to adopt a “no cuts” approach. The group also agreed to press for a more transparent and inclusive individual assessment process; more resources for advocacy services and the protection of workers’ wages and conditions.
Said Brian Smith of UNISON: ‘We now need to step up the fight to defend services for disabled people, and to make the principle of choice a reality rather than a mask for cuts.’
The next meeting of the campaign on Personalisation, will be on Tuesday 27 March at 10am in UNISON’s Bell Street offices. This is open to all groups concerned about or affected by the cuts.
SATURDAY 10th MARCH 2012
UNISON GLASGOW CITY BRANCH
84 BELL STREET
GLASGOW, G1 1LQ
10 am(registration 10.30am UNTIL 2.00 pm
UNISON Scotland, Social Work Action Network and Defend Glasgow Services have organised this community conference to provide an opportunity for service users, workers, carers and families and those interested in the issues around personalisation, to come together.
There will be an open panel discussion, workshops to focus on key issues for all those affected and open floor discussions on latest developments. Also the opportunity to hear from and meet those most affected.
The conference will also discuss our aims as a wider community group and what we can do to make personalisation work in Glasgow and the whole of Scotland.
Places may be available on the door but to secure your place please contact UNISON Glasgow City Branch, on 0141 552 7069 or
This meeting is open to workers, service users, families and campaigners affected by the issues around personalisation and self-directed support. While it will focus on what is happening in Glasgow, it is relevant beyond the confines of the city.
Personalisation Networking Meeting
UNISON / Defend Glasgow’s Services Campaign / Social Work Action Network are hosting a joint meeting to discuss the impact of personalisation on people who receive support in the community.
This meeting comes at a key time as Glasgow plans a further £10 million in cuts to those with disabilities in its budget this month.
Tuesday 7 February 2012
UNISON Glasgow branch office, 84 Bell Street, G1 1LQ
(Tel: 0141 552 7069)
DEFEND GLASGOW SERVICES CAMPAIGN
LOBBY OF COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING
THURSDAY 9 FEB, 12.30PM
CITY CHAMBERS, GEORGE SQUARE
On Thursday 9 February 2012, Glasgow’s Councillors intend to vote through another £43M in budget cuts. This is on top of the £100M+ cut in the last two years which has already led to huge cuts in services and the loss of thousands of jobs in the council, charities, voluntary organisations, contractors, etc in our city.
Services to our most vulnerable citizens are in the firing line once again with another £10M to be cut from services to the disabled.
The citizens of Glasgow should not be asked to pay for the mistakes of bankers. Glasgow’s Councillors should oppose all cuts by setting a “needs budget” that protects services while organising a community and trade union campaign to win more money from the Scottish and UK Governments.
Get to the Lobby – No cuts in services!
The UNISON Glasgow City Branch co-ordinates the work of the DGS campaign.
Tel: 0141 552 7069 and Facebook/defendglasgowservices
photograph by Stuart Maxwell
Glasgow’s £18m re-vamped sports stadium at Scotstoun got off to a flying start on Wednesday 7 July with the Super8 athletics meeting. And while the eight cities competing were welcomed by Councillor Archie Graham inside the stadium, Glasgow city workers were on picket duty outside.
Councillor Graham informed the sparse crowd in the 5000 capacity stadium, that Glasgow has invested more than £100 m in the city in the past decade. Scotstoun stadium was part of its plan to become the Scottish Capital of Sports and would be a venue during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
A fun relay race launched the evening with Glasgow Warriors rugby Club, Scottish Rocks basketball club, Wildcats netball Club and the city’s own Athletics Club competing and the athletes winning the trophy.
But there will be no trophies – and no bonuses or overtime pay – for the Culture and Sport Glasgow workers who stood in solidarity at the gates. Four unions – Unison, Unite, GMB and BECTU – are taking strike action in a dispute over a wage cut of up to 10% for more than 150 of their members, a pay freeze for other colleagues and cuts in public holidays and overtime rates for all. Said spokesman Sam Macartney: ‘We are here to let the public be aware of the dispute. Some staff have lost between £1000 and £2000 a year. Glasgowlife, as Culture and Sport is now called, is prepared to spend thousands of pounds bringing in a security company for this athletics meeting, but it is not prepared to spend a few pounds to resolve this dispute.’
A spokesman for Glasgowlife said: ‘This dispute is not about job losses. We have promised to protect jobs and services at a time when many other staff in public and private sectors are facing redundancy. But Glasgowlife must make savings of £3.4 million in the current financial year. As a seven-day-a-week service, enhanced overtime payments – such as effectively triple time on a bank holiday – have been replaced with plain-time overtime payments.’