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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 June 2011

Birmingham: city of a thousand cuts

Tom Creek, Birmingham Socialist Party
Birmingham council workers strike, April 2008, included Unison, GMB, NUT and PCS workers, photo S O'Neill

Birmingham council workers strike, April 2008, included Unison, GMB, NUT and PCS workers, photo S O'Neill   (Click to enlarge)

Birmingham has been hit hard by the ongoing capitalist crisis. Unemployment stands at 11.6% and in some wards is over 20%. Once known as the city of a thousand trades, its manufacturing base is a shadow of its former self, and the city is also facing brutal public service cuts. In March, the council's ruling Con-Dem coalition slashed 212 million from its budget.

Over 7,000 council workers are being laid off over the next three years, and 5,000 more will see their jobs privatised. All those who remain have been threatened with redundancy unless they accept reduced terms and conditions. The latest cut to be announced is the 'offshoring' of up to 100 council IT jobs to India.

The Con-Dem coalition on the council is weak, and after gaining 14 seats in May, Labour expects to take control after the next round of elections in 2012. But Labour's 'alternative' budget proposed 199 million cuts to services - just 13 million less than the Con-Dems.

Opposition to the cuts is growing fast. A recent demonstration against the council's budget mobilised over a thousand people; over 60 coaches went from Birmingham to the TUC demo on 26 March; and local anti-cuts groups are springing up all over the city.

Most significantly, Unison has bowed to pressure from members and is balloting all Birmingham city council workers in the union for industrial action. Activists hope to coordinate this with the national strikes by the PCS, NUT, UCU and ATL on 30 June. If this takes place, it will represent a partial public sector general strike in the city, which will be a huge step forward and can help give a lead in building for a national public sector general strike against the Con-Dem cuts.

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In The Socialist 8 June 2011:


Socialist Party editorial

Economic crisis in 'them and us' Britain


Anti-cuts action

Cuts in jobs and services: We are fighting back!

Birmingham: city of a thousand cuts

Human rights service staff defend jobs


Socialist Party workplace news

CWU conference - unanimous call for 24-hour general strike

Strike action against pensions attack at Sheffield university

Mood for action among Unison members in Waltham Forest

Saltend dispute: lessons for future struggles


Socialist Party feature

Fighting the anti-strike legislation


Socialist Party women

'Slutwalk' protests

Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is possible


International socialist news and analysis

'Butcher of Bosnia' faces trial

Tamil Solidarity: important resolution agreed at the European Parliament


Young people fighting back

Protests grow as young people say: 'We want a future!'


Socialist Party news and analysis

Southern Cross - Social care on the brink

Vulnerable patients abused at privately run Bristol hospital

End the 'insane' pursuit of oil profit

Fight Welsh universities' fees hike

NHS: Lansley must resign!

News in brief


 

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