Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10791
Trade unionists lobby Manchester council
Shop Stewards Network supporters working and living in Manchester lobbied outside the Manchester city council meeting on Wednesday 8 December, with a great response from council workers and passers-by.
Andy Ford, secretary North-West Shop Stewards Network (NWSSN) and Hugh Caffrey, North-West Socialist Party
The lobby was called to signal to both councillors and the public that we do not accept the cuts agenda - not from the Con-Dems and not from Labour councillors either. Our slogans of "No cuts to council services and workers!", "Don't carry out the Con-Dem government cuts!", "Defend Services - Defend Jobs - Defend Incomes", proved very popular.
Despite being one of the richest large local authorities in the region, Manchester city council is attempting to force changed conditions on its workforce. The union Unite, whose branch secretary joined the lobby, is rightly resisting this not-so-thin end of a mass redundancy wedge.
Unison's branch leadership recommended the changes on the grounds that they avoid compulsory redundancies. Workers understand that they will mean job losses by the back door, and a majority of those who voted in the unions' ballots on the issue voted against them.
The council claims it has a huge deficit even before the Con-Dems' cuts, though the government claims the council has £108 million banked in reserves. The "deficit" will be used as an excuse for cuts and for refusing to stand up against the Con-Dem cuts. The lobby is the first step in resisting the council's intent to pass on the cuts to our services, jobs, incomes and communities.
The South Manchester Law Centre anti-closure campaign was present at the lobby and supporters came from many trade unions including PCS, Unite (health, local government and voluntary sector), Unison and NUT, as well as the Socialist Party. A group of newly-trained union reps came straight from their TUC course to the lobby!
The overwhelming majority of trade unionists and socialists in the city want to see a fight against the cuts and we will do our best to assist that.
The NWSSN meeting in the evening adopted a plan of quarterly supporters' meetings as well as public meetings around specific disputes as they arise; also to mobilise strongly for the 22 January National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference in London; to mobilise in support of blacklisted electrician Steve Acheson at the courts on 22 December in Manchester; to build for the TUC-organised national youth unemployment rally in Manchester on 29 January and the PCS youth march to it, and to send messages of support to workers and students under the Con-Dem cosh.