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Posted on 14 January 2013 at 17:52 GMT

Joint union protest as Barking and Dagenham Labour council forces through cuts

Members of the unions Unite and Unison protested outside Barking and Dagenham Civic Centre in east London when the council passed 18 million in cuts just before Christmas, many of which will hit frontline services. More than 200 jobs are to go, after the council has already shed 600 jobs.

The council says it will decide where the axe will fall in February, yet it seems that many proposed cuts have already been fleshed out and action is needed now. Staff are very angry.

One council worker told Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts that while senior management such as divisional directors are virtually untouched, in the youth service's Targeted Support division: "Children's centres are going to be cut from 24 down to six".

Two years of proposed cuts in youth services add up to 600,000. "These cuts will decimate the services".

Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts, which is convened by rebel councillor George Barratt, is calling on the trade unions to discuss some form of coordinated action with their members.

Given a firm lead and bold plans of action together with workplace meetings, we feel workers will respond.

The council is a Labour Party oligarchy. George is the only councillor to vote against all cuts in the council, and was unceremoniously expelled from the Labour Party when he refused to vote for the cuts budget last year.

Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts is concerned that with Labour councillors planning cuts in services through to 2014, there is a danger that the far right in some guise or other will try to make gains by leaning on the growing opposition to the cuts.

Therefore a united working class genuine opposition to the cuts needs to be built from the ground up, and will need to be prepared to stand candidates against cuts-making Labour councillors in the 2014 local elections.

Pete Mason

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