Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/698/13325
Stand up to the Con-Dem government
For councillors who refuse to implement the cuts!
Political answer also required: Millions strike back at Con-Dem government on 30 November 2011, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
On 30 November around two million public sector workers took strike action in defence of their pensions and against cuts in public services. This mighty strike demonstrated workers' potential power and shook the government.
However, to win the battle to defeat the Con-Dems is going to require an escalation of the struggle. This will mean further strike action, but it is also urgent that the trade union and anti-cuts movement begins to discuss making sure it has an electoral voice, otherwise we are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.
New Labour does not offer a voice for working class people. Outrageously, Labour peer Lord Hutton, author of the attack on pensions, is urging workers to swallow the government's destruction of their pensions, while Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has made it clear that a Labour government would also attack pensions.
At local level every single Labour-led council has wielded the axe handed to them by central government. This has meant that already an eye-watering £4 billion of cuts - 8% of total council spending - was implemented last year. Appalling cuts have taken place.
In Liverpool the cuts are equal to an average of £229 per head, in Manchester £190, Lambeth £150, Newham £227. For council workers this has meant wholesale cuts in jobs and in pay and conditions. For the poorest it has meant the destruction of the already patchy and inadequate safety nets that kept them from destitution. As a result the number of those officially registered as homeless has gone up by 30% in just six months.
These can all be stopped but unless we fight back, 2012 will be worse, with a further 7% cut in council spending planned. That is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is calling on trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners across the country to stand for elections to their local council in 2012, and also to take part in the TUSC list for the Greater London Assembly elections.
We have to make it clear to Labour councillors and assembly members that they will be punished at the ballot box if they continue to destroy public services. We need to tell them, unless you pledge to fight the cuts, we will stand against you.
The elections are not just a chance to make a one-day 'protest vote' against the cuts. They are also an opportunity to elect councillors who can actually stop many of the cuts from being implemented locally.
Even a minority group on a council, or a single councillor, can make a difference by using their position as democratically elected local representatives to give confidence to and help organise community campaigns and trade unionists to fight.
TUSC is an alliance which includes individual trade unionists, community campaigners and different political parties. On 28 January TUSC will be holding a conference open to all those considering standing on an anti-cuts platform in the 2012 elections. The TUSC steering committee will be proposing that all TUSC candidates pledge to:
- Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions - we reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services
- Reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts
- Vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation
- Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government policies which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies
- When faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing them on - while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.
PCS assistant general secretary backs London TUSC campaign
The assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union, Chris Baugh, has, in a personal capacity, backed the call for trade unionist and socialist candidates to stand in the Greater London Assembly elections in 2012.
He has been joined by PCS members in Revenue and Customs (HMRC), on strike against privatisation and attendance management, all in a personal capacity: Alex McRae, PCS branch secretary North London revenue branch; Rose King, North London revenue branch; Dave Plummer, Revenue & Customs Euston, PCS branch organiser; L Shelley, Euston Assistant secretary; H Davis, Euston Health and safety rep; D Matthew, health and safety forum and union rep.
Are you a trade unionist in London? If so, add your name to the statement: "We, the undersigned, support the call for trade unionist and socialist candidates to stand in the Greater London Assembly elections in 2012, committed to opposing all cuts, privatisation and PFI".
Go to www.tusc.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
"When I was a Labour councillor in 2005, I refused to vote for cuts on the council. The next week I was de-selected.
"Nothing has changed since then. New Labour in Southampton promise more cuts if elected. If Labour councillors won't put forward an alternative to cuts, we must."
TUSC candidate Perry McMillan
In The Socialist 14 December 2011:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party reviews
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis