Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/651/10798
Fighting back against council cuts
North West Shop Stewards Network (NWSSN) supporters working and living in Manchester lobbied outside the Manchester city council meeting on Wednesday 8 December, and received a great response from council workers and passers-by.
The lobby was called to show that we do not accept the cuts agenda from the Con-Dems and not from Labour councillors either.
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.
But 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 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 from the Socialist Party. A group of newly-trained union reps came straight from their TUC course to the lobby!
To join the NWSSN mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring/text 07742 417 862.
Andy Ford, NWSSN secretary, and Hugh Caffrey, Socialist Party
A cold wind of savage cuts is sweeping across east London, as it is across the country. In Newham, a New Labour 'one-party state', the council is threatening to axe 1,600 jobs. This could be lowered to 1,200, it suggests cynically, but only if workers accept harsh attacks on terms and conditions.
Unite union reps have begun to organise the fightback. Clearly, there is now an urgent need to link up with other unions to organise determined and coordinated action.
The Socialist Party in east London held a protest outside Newham town hall on 6 December, an opening shot across the bows of this rotten borough council.
On 7 December social workers in the neighbouring borough of Redbridge lobbied their council. Adult social service workers are facing a 10% pay cut with the removal of recruitment and retention allowances. 50 or so workers, supported by Unison, GMB, and NUT trade unions and Socialist Party members protested.
These frontline staff are essential for organising home visits to housebound and vulnerable people, and they do emergency call-outs. Further action is promised.
Manny Thain East London Socialist Party
On Saturday 11 December 150 protesters held a demonstration in central Leeds against tax-dodging companies and government cuts. The protest began with a rally called by Leeds trades council.
Speakers included fighting trade unionist and Socialist Party member Jane Aitchison from PCS, Socialist Students national chair Ian Pattison, and local secondary school students, who spoke out passionately against education cuts.
Following the rally, protesters conducted a noisy and colourful march around the city centre, stopping off at several locations including Vodafone, Topshop, Boots and banking giant Santander. Some protesters tried to enter stores to carry out planned occupations but found their way barred by police.
The march ended outside the student union building in solidarity with the occupation of Leeds University which ended that day.
Leeds Socialist Party
Up to 400 students, parents, and children marched through Lewes, East Sussex, on 11 December to voice their anger at the proposed abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance and at £9,000 tuition fees.
The march, organised by local students and parents at Priory School, Lewes, and helped by Socialist Party members, passed the local constituency office of Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, who said he was considering resigning his position as junior transport minister in order to oppose the policy, yet ended up voting for it anyway.
Many people said they felt betrayed by Baker, and would not be voting for him again.
The march culminated with speeches by local students, teachers and Socialist Party members.
Many passers-by expressed support for the march, and said they would be attending the launch meeting of the new local anti-cuts group next week.
Holly Smith Brighton Socialist Party
Trade unionists, students and other local people in Woking joined together with Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) and marched around the town before joining a Surrey Labour Party-organised rally.
Unison, Unite, PCS and FBU trade union banners, flags and placards were complemented by an array of home made placards.
Several leading Labour and trade union speakers addressed the rally but the biggest cheers by far were for those, including Chris Leary, SOSiS chair, and myself. We called for trade union leaders to organise national action now and demanded that anyone standing for election must oppose all cuts.
Leaflets were given out for the SOSiS lobby of Surrey county council on 21 December from 11.30am at County Hall in Kingston.
Paul Couchman, Secretary, Surrey County Unison (personal capacity)
In The Socialist 15 December 2010:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students