Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/647/10632
Jobs threat in Knowsley
Council officers announced 400 job losses on 9 November in Knowsley, north Merseyside, with more to follow. Jeff Bowe, a Knowsley Unison member, explained the situation to Hugh Caffrey:
We met with council officers when the job losses were announced. The context to this is a £30 million black hole in the authority's finances, which we already knew about, on the back of central government spending cuts. What the council have done now is quantify that to mean at least 400 redundancies.
I think it's hard to conceive of 400 people magically volunteering for redundancy in the current climate.
We also know that there will be a further package of cuts to terms and conditions. In 2012-13 the authority is planning a further £16 million round of cuts, meaning that over two and a half years almost £50 million is being cut from a budget of £170 million, so it's massive.
The effects will be devastating. Of course there will be the human and economic impact on our members. But it is impossible to take that amount of money out of services without harming frontline services.
A couple of things are worth mentioning especially. We're aware that this is happening up and down the country, that all local authorities are in the same boat because of the central government cuts.
Knowsley is a particularly socially deprived borough. Lots of our members work and live within the local authority, and will be facing a double whammy of being at risk from whatever the central government decides to do to benefits while at the same time facing cuts in the council services on which they rely.
We will now be consulting, together with the other unions, over what action we want to take. In normal times members would be looking towards industrial action, and I wouldn't rule that out, but as we know we are not living in normal times and so I think members are looking for more than that.
People are looking for a broader alliance together with community groups and people who use the services we provide, and while we're confronted first of all by the employer, which is the local authority, then this situation demands a wider political and industrial strategy than just the traditional one or two day strike and a collective bargaining solution.
In The Socialist 17 November 2010:
Socialist Party youth and students
War and occupation
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review