Minutes: Peoples Assembly North East Public Meeting 24th September 2013

St John’s Hall 24.09.13

View previous minutes here.
40 present
Apologies:   Alex  NEPA, Beth NTUC, Alex NEPA, Paul Durham PA
Chair: Tony
Minutes:  Jerry
September 14 Feedback
‘Welfare not Warfare’ workshop: Jerry
Threat of war in Syria
Cost of war: Afghanistan since 2001 = £20billion
Trident replacement £70-100billion
Cuts to public services, welfare
Human cost – link warfare cost to welfare
‘Hardest Hit’ workshop: Fran
18 people attended
People telling their own stories i.e. Mental health – less services
People overwhelmed – helping each other with advice and support
Suggested trying to develop a register of people who can escort claimants to tribunals, ATOS. What kind of support? CAB, West End Women & Girls Centre etc.
‘NHS’ workshop: Tony
85 people attended
23/09/2013 Tony attended Newcastle Health Watchboard Board meeting along with 30 others.
Peter Wilcox – Regional Secretary of the FBU
Speaking on the eve of the firefighters’ strike 25/09/2013 12-4pm. The first dispute in over 10 years. Firefighters see the result of attacks on the public services. Current dispute about pensions. Two years of negotiations have got nowhere. It was a very big decision for the FBU but they see the offer on the table as:
Unworkable – expecting 50-60 year olds to carry on working is a dangerous risk to the public.
Unsustainable – contribution increases are the highest in private/public sector. 13.4% of wages paid towards pension contributions. Majority pay £350 per month. Threat to the pension scheme if firefighters can’t afford it.
Unfair – Pay more contributions and receive less pension.
Asked the Government to come to the table. They said no.
Brendan Lewis says it’s unnecessary and unavoidable but his decisions have caused the situation.
50% of 50-55 year olds don’t meet current fitness standards. Two thirds of 55-60 year olds don’t meet current fitness standards. Picket lines throughout the area. Try to support pickets 12-4pm.
Feedback from the floor
University worker: PA off his radar because of poor media coverage. Impressed by attendance. Need to build getting younger people involved. Would have been more active if he’d heard about the PA. Visibility on the street i.e. stalls etc. Educating younger people.
Michael: Already a Student Assembly forming. Issues on campus. What happened to the student occupation people from two years ago?
Martin: Brilliant day. We need to get deeper into the trade unions.
A suggestion to have a People’s Artists/Artistes Collective should be established.
Lynn: Building support at picket lines. Talk to other people about the PA. Teachers’ strike October 17. Perhaps the need for combination strikes leading to a general strike.
Mark H: Need to reach new people who attended the event. Mark is setting up a survey via Survey Monkey – an online questionnaire to collect feedback.
Matthew: How do we involve and engage the media? Privatisation is going at a massive pace. £700million of geriatric care will be going into private pockets. Follow up after NHS demo.
A suggestion to have a Women’s Assembly. Sexism: how is austerity affecting women?
Tony P: How do we tell the public apart from using technology i.e. Facebook, Twitter etc.
Newcastle Uni UCU: Environmental issues. Balloting for industrial action, coordinating unions. List of important points for NHS demo to pass on.
Group discussion – ideas/feedback
Nov 5th Day of Civil Disobedience.
Exposure: Big groups targeting different businesses.
Start at St James’ Park (Wonga), pass Sports Direct.
Choose your own level of involvement.
Go into shops (will we be arrested?)
5th November – Day of Civil Disobedience
Who to target – local activities or one regional protest?
Pass leaflets
Capture attention of press
Do stuff in local areas
Continue ongoing action every week to two weeks
Protest outside shops
Care for shop assistants – not their fault
Do local people want to do something local?
Organise locally but join a bigger event
Matthew: 500 people attended on 14/09/2013. Local PAs forming. Campaign for local issues. University Group – young engagement. Educational workshops on public speaking, chairing, organising etc. Websites of other PAs. Contacting unions.
Coordinating Group Elections
9 people on the list. List is gender balanced and represents people involved so far. The floor agreed to continue with the present group. Michael (Socialist Workers’ Party) wants to be added to the list. Agreed.
Wallsend MEM occupied 13 days.
Social Investment Business (SIB) promises to help but sends in ‘Change Agents’. Local people sacked. Two Tory MPs on SIB board. SIB have destroyed centre. No likelihood of staff being paid. Most jobs are gone.
People’s Assembly support the MEM. Donations from the room for MEM.
Mark Steel
How much to charge?
PA needs money.
Unemployed need to be able to attend. Price should be pretty low as more people will attend.
Events to make money – good idea.
Lower rates decided.
Eventbrite – can buy tickets online.
Sum Up
How can we help? Find picket lines tomorrow and offer support and solidarity.
Thank you to Tony for chairing and St. Johns for use of the hall.

About farmerg13

22, Media Production Graduate (Sunderland Uni) from Hebburn, South Tyneside. North East Peoples Assembly and Coalition of Resistance Media & Communications Officer. Active in Hebburn South Labour Party. Admin of this blog, opinionated is putting it mildly. NUFC fan. Follow me @farmerg13
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