Nappy group urges parents to ditch the disposables

A local group of parents is holding a series of events to promote the use of washable nappies.

The Hereford branch of Worcester Nappy Advisory Service will be taking part in Real Nappy Week from 20th–26th April and will be hoping to convince mums and dads to ditch the disposables.

“We hope to encourage more people to try out modern cloth nappies to see how easy they are to use, how much cheaper they can be and how much better for the environment they are. Cloth nappies are also more gentle on babies with sensitive skin,” Erika from WNAS told us.

WNAS offer demonstrations to the public and one-on-one advice. They also organise a nappy library where parents and carers can loan cloth nappies FREE of charge.

An incredible 8 million nappies are thrown away each day in the UK and they could take 500 years to degrade, so the environmental impact of disposables really can’t be ignored.

But using cloth nappies can also save money. Disposable nappies can cost upwards of £900 per year; using the WNAS nappy library can reduce this cost considerably.

For information on WNAS and Real Nappy Week visit their Facebook page.

Where is the balanced information on child vaccinations?

The possible link between autism and the MMR vaccine once again hit the headlines last week. To vaccinate or not is the most difficult choice I have had to make as a parent. This confusing and controversial issue never seems to go away and often throws up more questions than it has answers.

Last Wednesday (1 August) the Advertising Standards Agency ordered the Babyjabs.co.uk website to remove some information from their site. They were making the claim that the 3 in 1 jab is causing up to 10% of autism in children!


Every parent in the UK has to make the decision whether to have their baby vaccinated, with the first set of jabs administered at two months. Being a parent to a new born child is amazing, emotional and often daunting, so at such an intense time a massive decision like this should be dealt with in a sensitive way. The reality though is a small leaflet from the health service explaining the vaccine schedule. It contains scarce information on the dangers of either the disease or the vaccines. The result being that what should be a major decision becomes little more than an acceptance to to go along with what is expected of you as a ‘good parent’.

I for one felt that my responsibility to my child meant I had to seek more information before making choices on his behalf.

It became immediately apparent to me and my partner that clear guidance and information is not readily available. We quickly found ourselves stuck between two extreme schools of thought:

  1. You are a bad parent endangering yours and other people’s children if you DON’T vaccinate!
  2. You are a bad parent endangering your child if you DO vaccinate!

Neither of these two schools backed up their arguments in a constructive way. And no amount of internet searches, visits to Hereford library or purchases from bookshops could find the middle ground. Even our GP could only offer limited knowledge.

Our local pharmacist did give us the information sheets that come with the vaccines, but this just threw up even more questions. When you find out that some jabs contain aluminium, mercury, gelatine, formaldehyde, aborted foetal tissue and other toxic chemicals you become more determined to find answers.

The questions we wanted answered where:

  1. How prevalent are the diseases?
  2. How effective are the vaccines?
  3. Is there any evidence that the vaccines are dangerous?

We had to answer them as best we could with our child’s health at the forefront of our minds. It would be very easy to loose yourself in the arguments surrounding vaccines. The power of pharmaceutical companies, the way GPs are paid, the vitriol of anti-vaccine groups, all of this can cloud your judgement. The mainstream media don’t help with their coverage of the issue, in-fact they add to the confusion with their half-reporting, and half-truths.

The conclusion we eventually got to is that the decision whether to vaccinate your child is a personal one for every parent. We shouldn’t be bullied one way or the other, but without balanced and substantiated evidence this decision, at present, is an extremely difficult one to make.

May Day! International Workers’ Day is on the horizon

A fortnight today will see scores of marches, demonstrations, and other protest actions take place across the world, in recognition of May Day, or International Workers’ Day. Too few people know why May Day became International Workers’ Day and why we should still commemorate it.

It  began over a century ago when the American Federation of Labour adopted a historic resolution which asserted that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labour from and after May 1st, 1886.” It is widely seen as the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when Chicago police fired on workers during a general strike for the eight hour workday, killing several demonstrators and resulting in the deaths of several police officers, largely from friendly fire. To save going into too much length and detail here, you can read the full story of it’s history in this great piece on the Libcom website.

Marchers assemble for speeches at Hereford May Day Rally - 2011

Last year saw a May Day anti-cuts march through high town, with members of Hereford Solidarity League joining with members of the Anarchist Federation, Herefordshire Green Party and others. After taking a detour to give Vodafone a quick passing picket, the march ended at the Shire Hall, where a number of speeches were made on the history of May Day and the importance of working together to stop the ConDem cuts and defend our services. You can read our full report of the march here.

This year the ‘Bristol 1st of May Group’ are taking the lead, planning a number of protest actions to take place in Bristol. They have released a call-out to groups and individuals across the country to mark International Workers’ Day in their own way.

“Reclaim The Beach – May Day 2012
A National Call For Action

This is a national call-out for a week of anti-capitalist action, events and celebration throughout the UK in the first week of May 2012 to show resistance to capitalism and remember all those workers who lost their lives for a better life for us all.

Beneath the road, the banks, the shopping malls and prisons lies the Beach,
Behind the politicians, the bureaucrats, the cops AND the robbers lies Freedom,
Outside wage and debt slavery, false democracy, capitalism and state control lies our Future.

This call is for the parents who can’t buy the shopping they need,
For the migrant workers who wont take their bosses abuse,
For the people of colour sick of institutionalised racism,
For the disabled people marginalised and ignored,
For the elderly who can’t afford to pay their bills,
For the women exploited and objectified,
For the students in perpetual debt,
For all the workers and the unemployed; the downtrodden, and the alienated.

We call now for expression of justifiable rage.
We call to the unionised to remember your proud history of militant labour,
We call to the students and workers in struggle,
To all anti-capitalists, anarchists, communists, rebels, and revolutionaries.
We call for direct action, subversion and creativity,
noise, colour, courage and diversity of tactics.
Celebrate International Workers Day with Love and With Rage.

In the spirit of all who fought and died for the emancipation of the working class.
This is a call to reclaim the streets, the fields, the forests and the beaches.
To break from control, to liberate and to occupy EVERYTHING.
Together, we can achieve the impossible.

Bristol 1st of May Group”

You can view their website.

Rolling festive phone-in to Atos ‘Healthcare’

Atos are the French IT firm responsible for carrying out the government’s Work Capability Assessment which has led to tens of thousands of sick and disabled people being forced into poverty after being stripped of essential benefits. Despite the process being dubbed unfit for purpose and an increasing number of suicides due to the stressful and vicious health testing regime, this form of assessment is to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

Beginning on Monday 12th December and running up until Christmas benefit claimants, disabled people and supporters will be ringing both local and national Atos Offices to complain about their obscene treatment of sick and disabled people.
How To Get Involved
We urgently need as many towns, cities, groups and individuals to commit to a morning or afternoon shift in the upcoming days and get as many people as possible to ring Atos and complain about their involvement in the Work Capability Assessment.

To maximise the protest we will aim to have as many groups as possible calling Atos at different times in the run up to Christmas. We’ll maintain a list here and on facebook to try and help co-ordinate times/dates and see if we can keep the phonelines buzzing daily in the run up to Christmas. Please contact us by leaving details in the comments on facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/events/281777128534663/ or emailing us at:  notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you aren’t part of a local group, or even if you are, support the other protests by calling Atos along with them.

Either ring your local Atos Offices, or their corporate headquarters, or why not both! Atos’s main numbers (including a handy freephone number) are:
+44 (0)20 7830 4444 (Tel)
+44 (o)20 7830 4233 (Tel)
+44 (0)800 783 3040 (Freephone)
+44 (0)20 7830 4445 (Fax)

Atos ‘Healthcare’ who run the Work Capability Assessment have a main number at: +44 (0) 113 230 9175

Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls will be low paid receptionist/admin staff so we call on people to be be business-like and non-confrontational. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls which are threatening, indecent or offensive. Keep it fluffy. Why not sing them a carol?

Anyone who manages to get through to Atos CEO Keith Wilman will win the customary prize of a free Crisis Loan*

Some calls may be recorded for the purposes of taking the piss.

Brighton DPAC who will be phoning Atos on the mornings of Monday 12th and Monday 19th of December have produced a script/template which can be read out, or emailed/faxed to Atos. Visit their fb event page (below) for details.

Join in online!
You can also contact Atos via email. Their Head of PR can be reached at:  caroline.crouch@atos.net and general enquiries can be sent to:  ukwebenquiries@atos.ne. Atos ‘Healthcare’ can be reached at:  customer-relations@atoshealthcare.com or to ask for a job go to:  jobs@sjbmedical.com

Atos have new facebook groups and pages springing up all the time. Search for Atos on facebook to find them. You can also tweet using the hashtags #atos, we’ll be monitoring twitter for any other hashtags Atos use.

Posted by Claimants Fightback on Indymedia UK – http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/12/490001.html

Local Atos assessment centers-

Hereford-  Broadway House, Aubrey Street, Hereford, HR4 0B

Gloucester- Cedar House, Spa Road, Gloucester, GL1 1XL

Worcester- Vine House, Farrier Street, Worcester, WR1 3EL

Herefordshire workers join biggest walkout for decades

Workers from many industries took strike action on Wednesday to defend attacks on their pensions from the Tory government.

Teachers, paramedics, nurses, local government staff and others from across Herefordshire downed tools and took part in the strike.

Picket lines were in place outside many offices and schools and over 200 people attended the midday rally in High Town, where speeches were heard from a number of union officials.

Unison organiser, Steve Akers, called on workers to “debate and win the arguments surrounding the pensions and cuts in your communities, workplaces, pubs and clubs”. “Go back to work and organise,” he said.

Herefordshire Unison are continuing to organise around the pensions issue and have called another strike committee meeting for next Tuesday 6thDecember. Taking place at 12.30 at the Town or Shire Hall (TBC), the meeting is currently open to officials from local union branches only.

Yet the Heckler believes that these meetings should be open to all peopleaffected by the pensions issue, including workers, families, service users and all involved in the struggle against government cuts.

Strike action around the region also received great support. Six hundred people took part in a march in Worcester, after speeches and a rally at Tramps Nightclub. Unions have said over 75% of Worcestershire teachers were on strike. In Gloucester 2,000 people joined the mass rally at Gloucester Park, after marching from Shire Hall.

Nationally, the picture is much the same. Large rallies and thousands of pickets taking place across the country, with over 2 million public sector workers taking part in the action and more supporting them in rallies, on picket lines and in solidarity actions. A national demonstration was held in Birmingham, with tens of thousands also marching in LondonBristol and Manchester.Almost 70% of schools were closed, over 42% of the London Ambulance Service was on strike, along with a third of local council workers and a quarter of civil servants.

Students have acted in solidarity with striking lecturers and other public sector workers, showing that the  pensions struggle is linked with tuition fees issue and other government ‘austerity measures.’ A series of occupations has taken place at universities across the country in the run-up to November 30th, and on the day itself. So far, students have taken part in occupations at Aberdeen, the University of West England, Goldsmiths, Cambridge, Birmingham, Edinburgh, the University of East Anglia, Liverpool, Essex and Royal Holloway. Many also joined picket lines and demonstrations on the day.

Others, including anti-capitalist/anarchist protesters, electricians and UK Uncut also took action. A group of activists affiliated to the Occupy London group spent the day touring London, supporting pickets, joining protests and linking up with other demonstrators. In the evening they broke off and entered a building on Haymarket, occupying the office of Mick Davies, CEO of mining company, Xstrata, a ‘leading light of the FTSE 100’ and one of the highest paid. Activists unfurled a banner saying ‘All power to the 99%’ on the roof, as police kettled supporters below and moved in to make over 20 arrests.

Meanwhile in London, a group of striking workers were kettled by police outside a library in Hackney in a move that shows the increasingly anti-democratic direction that policing in the capital is taking. Forty-one strikers were arrested for a breach of the peace.

Electricians, who are currently involved in a campaign of early morning pickets and occupations to defend their working contracts, also supported the striking public sector workers.

Anti-cuts group, UK Uncut held what they called a day of ‘SolidariTea.’ They attended picket lines with tea and food for cold strikers.

We cannot doubt the significance of the action. The sheer number of people taking part is something that hasn’t been seen in years. Workers from different industries are showing solidarity with each other and breaking down the government’s public vs. private sector propaganda. Strikers are joining together with students and anti-cuts activists. The struggle is being broadened, with tactics diversifying.

We need to ensure that the links made are cemented and the momentum is kept up. One-day strikes alone will not defeat the government’s programme of cuts and attacks on the workers of this country. More occupations, blockades, go-slows, pickets and protests against government targets, banks and the super-rich are needed. We have many weapons in our arsenal – let’s use them!

Hereford strike committee meeting, 12.30pm Tuesday 6th December, Town or Shire Hall (TBC).