Ken Loach to present his film “Riff Raff” in York on Workers’ Memorial Day

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York & District TUC is proud to welcome director Ken Loach to York for this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day event, which will include an exclusive free showing of his topical film “Riff Raff”. The event will be held at the York Early Music Centre, just off Walmgate from 12pm on 28th April 2017, and will include short speeches from Leigh Wilks (President, York TUC), Rachael Maskell (York Labour MP) and others.

Ken will give an introduction to his work, which most recently has included the film “I, Daniel Blake” and there will be a short service of remembrance for Workers’ Memorial Day by York’s humanist minister.

The event is free, however you will need to book a ticket by going to the following link:

is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/workers-memorial-day-event-tickets-33408435530

We very much hope that you can come and look forward to seeing you all on the day!

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Anger over NHS crisis provokes yet another mass demonstration

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The national NHS demonstration that took place over the last few days was a collective scream at the Government not to tamper any further with the UK healthcare system. This winter has seen the worst crisis in living memory stretch NHS resources to the absolute limit; NHS Trusts nationwide have been absolutely clear that although there is always a peak of admissions in winter months, years of lack of funding and chronic resource issues have combined to create the perfect storm of a full-blown NHS crisis. While the Government (as previous Conservative Governments did before it) like to paint the NHS as a black hole which will swallow up endless amounts of taxpayers money – the fact remains that the bleeding of NHS finances to the private sector, and the burden of PFI contracts established under previous Governments, have all put the punitive approach of the Tory administration into very sharp relief. Let’s be clear – the Tories want increasing private involvement in the NHS, while a huge majority of the UK population (whether they be Leavers or Remainers) want not only privatisation to stop, but for it to be significantly reversed.

People instinctively know that privatisation of healthcare is a bad idea – they only have to look at the system across the Atlantic and compare it to European healthcare systems to draw a very stark comparison. European voters generally want little to do with a significant profit motive in healthcare (what they get, however, is debatable) and, more importantly, they want their healthcare systems to care for everybody – not just a moneyed few. And contrary to the Government’s propaganda – in terms of value for money, the NHS is extremely efficient. But in terms of funding, it is well down the European league in terms of amounts spent per capita on health and on social care.

And let us not forget that the crisis in social care is as big as it is in the NHS, and stems mainly from the same forces at play – private healthcare companies and corporations bleeding money from the system – and the taxpayer. As with the NHS, the Government wants more private money introduced into the social care system – companies which certainly do not benefit patients – often charging exorbitant amounts for “care” while delivering a deplorable service – but they do benefit the profit margins of a large number of private providers; who while hurt over the collapse of TTIP, are no doubt salivating over the kind of trade deal the Tory Government may potentially make with Trump’s US administration. US healthcare giants have not taken their eye off the prize of the UK’s still largely state-provided NHS – and will lobby for a deal that will give them maximum access to UK patients on a private basis.

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It’s been going on a while – there have been many NHS demonstrations over the years. This picture was taken around 2005.

Trades unions have been warning for many years about the slow privatisation of the NHS and innumerable demonstrations have been held to try to stave off the surreptitious takeover of Britain’s last great symbol of socialism and cooperative endeavour. However, the fact remains that neither healthcare nor social care are safe in the hands of the Tories. The Labour Party, meanwhile, shackled by its not-so-distant past of supporting private initiatives such as PFI in health, must now be absolutely clear that it has moved to a position of absolute commitment to a publicly-funded and distributed NHS – free of the grasping hands of the private providers. Whatever trade unionists and socialists say about Brexit – it is an opportunity – either for a future Labour Government to ensure private involvement in the NHS is once-and-for-all brought to an end, thereby releasing much-needed funds that could be used exactly where they are needed. Or, it is an opportunity for a Tory Government – through a lucrative trade deal with America that includes healthcare, to allow US health corporations to strip what is left of a state-run service, like vultures picking over a wounded animal. Only the determination of NHS campaigners will ensure the first scenario is the one that wins out – and Aneurin Bevan’s famous comment one that can be translated to reality. The recent demonstration proved that there are still enough of those “folks” to demand that their health future – and the health future of their children, is untouched by the dirty hand of profit. The Tories are on the back-foot over the NHS – now is the time to seize the initiative and demand that their “reforms” are either halted or reversed; the country simply cannot afford another winter health crisis before creeping privatisation is revealed to be a cruel and bare-faced political lie based merely on no more than profit – the greatest political lie of the last 40 years.

Corbyn gains the “overwhelming” support of York & District TUC

Jeremy Corbyn has notched up yet another ringing endorsement from the trade union movement – the overwhelming support of York & District TUC. In a press release issued yesterday, the trade union umbrella group – representing unions throughout the York and District area, laid out their reasons for supporting the embattled incumbent candidate:

Following a delegate meeting held on Wednesday 10th August 2016, York & District TUC are supporting the candidature of Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming contest for the leadership of the Labour Party. Corbyn was elected last year with a huge mandate from Labour Party members – the largest mandate of any leader in the history of British politics. In addition, the Labour Party has almost tripled in size to become the largest political party in Europe. We believe this shift has been the result of widespread dissatisfaction with the Thatcherite monetarist economic policies of successive Governments over the last 35 years. The enthusiasm for Corbyn’s brand of “people politics” has taken the country by storm; Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s 10-point plan for the regeneration of the British economy, which include a 500 billion investment in the economy via a National Investment Bank, proposals to build one million new homes in Labour’s first term with rent controls and secure tenancies, strengthened employment rights and an end to zero hour contracts, is ambitious but based on sound economics of investment and a return to the public ownership of key utilities which for years have been bled dry by private companies. The Conservatives’ ideological madness of brutal cuts and austerity instead of badly-needed investment, which has been imposed by Right-wing Governments right across Europe, has proven to be an absolute disaster for all but the super-rich, stifling growth and driving down living standards for millions. As part of this, the bleeding of money and resources from publicly owned utilities by private companies and huge corporate interests – particularly within the National Health Service, and the allowance of the pernicious hand of big business in utilities owned by the general public, has resulted in an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, and abject misery for millions of ordinary people. Labour has won every by-election and every mayoral election since Corbyn became leader – with some of these elections seeing a swing to Labour of over 10%. Contrary to what the pollsters would have us believe, these socialist policies have huge support among the public, and especially within the labour and trade union movement. We believe Jeremy Corbyn and the excellent new team around him have reinvigorated the Labour Party with policies consistent with those of the trade union movement, and as a result, have taken the decision to offer our full support to him in his bid to retain the leadership of the Labour Party.

Commenting on the vote to give Corbyn their endorsement, York TUC President Leigh Wilks said that York & District TUC had a long and proud history of involvement with young people – those most affected by the “Thatcherite monetarist” consensus referred to in the statement. “We must remember that this consensus has ruled the roost for the last 35 years, and is now – especially through the catastrophic austerity being imposed across Europe, utterly discredited. Corbyn’s 10-point plan for the regeneration of the economy through investment in infrastructure is the very opposite of that consensus – indeed, it is exactly what we did following the Second World War, when our bankrupt nation set up the Welfare State and the NHS. Not just trade unionists, but ordinary voters no longer buy into the idea that you can cut your way to growth, and because of these insane and ideologically-driven policies, the UK economy has been flat-lining for years. Those who think that the poor should pay for the disastrous economic policies of the 1% are in for a nasty shock – and the proof of that is in the tripling of Labour Party membership since Jeremy Corbyn took power. There is a fundamental shift taking place across Europe – a movement of the people against the super-rich 1%. We can see it in other countries – in Greece, Portugal, and – very nearly in their recent elections – in Spain as well. The era of Thatcherism is finished. It’s time to get on with building things and creating the jobs, prosperity and security that goes with them.”

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Danny Myers, Secretary of York & District TUC, addresses the crowd at Corbyn’s recent rally in York

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Steve Howley, York TUC’s delegate and Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union

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Corbyn jokes with the crowd of thousands of supporters in St Helens’ Square, York

*all photography copyright to Leigh Wilks (c) 2016

Original PDF Press Statement Document:

pressrelease22082016