Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/415/4724
Stop public service jobs massacre
THE LEARNING and Skills Council (LSC) is planning to slash 1,300 jobs. Of these 550 will be in Coventry.
Coventry has haemorrhaged manufacturing jobs in the past two years with the closure of Massey Ferguson and Jaguar and 800 job losses at Peugeot. It is also horribly ironic that the department responsible for helping retrain and re-skill former industrial workers is now cutting its own staff.
These job losses tie in with the other massive civil service cuts driven by the Gershon report. Face-to-face contact with clients at benefit offices is being unsuccessfully replaced by call centres. In Coventry, claimants needing cash urgently are being turned away from local benefit offices. But it can take two weeks to get through by phone. Adult and community education services are also being cut.
Blair's government says it's put education and training at the top of its agenda. But employers have not. Qualifications like the NVQ are mainly based on what bosses want. They may provide skills for the job in hand but not other, wider skills.
LSC staff have attempted to scrutinise and influence training and education provided by colleges and other organisations. The cuts will mean that this scrutiny becomes more and more "light touch". Those proposing these cuts want these institutions left to their own devices.
A recent LSC report covering Individual Learning Accounts showed fraud - cash being claimed for non-existent learners involving false addresses - as "common". This and increasingly poor provision for the poorest and least-skilled in society will worsen if these cuts go through.
There has been no preparation for the effects of this review. Management prefer a short-term approach. They are spending lots on expensive agency and temporary staff and prefer to spend £70 million on consultants rather than really consulting their own staff.
Staff are taking action and fighting back, linking up with civil service union PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue to fight to keep civil service jobs. Blair seems hell bent on "going nuclear" with our public services and needs to be stopped.
Rally for Jobs and Services
Coventry Council House, Coventry, Saturday 12 November, 10.30am.
Assemble opposite Coventry Council House. 11.00am: Meeting at Methodist Central Hall.
- Speakers: PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, who will both be speaking at the Socialism 2005 event in London later.
In The Socialist 10 November 2005: