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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 January 2009

Fighting the cuts in Greenwich

In a quite vicious and vindictive move, Greenwich council have announced plans to attack pay, conditions, jobs and services right across the council. This follows a number of victories won by the Unison branch, notably the magnificent single status battle.

Greenwich Unison have always known that no victory is permanent, that at some point the employers will try to undo agreements or to claw back what has been won in hard-fought campaigns. But what has taken many by surprise is the sheer scale of the attacks proposed which include compulsory redundancies, downgrades, a cut in the number of front-line emergency children's social workers, and the setting up of a trading company that council services and staff will transfer into. This is a half-way house to privatisation.

It will also mean cutting pay protection for staff who transfer to new jobs, on poorer pay in order to avoid redundancy, from five years to one year, restricting opportunities for those faced with redundancy to redeploy to new posts, introducing a 'capability' procedure, removing the right to appeal to councillors in dismissal cases and removing the need to consult with the unions on changes in the workplace. Of course, there is no cut in the salaries of councillors.

The Unison office has already been visited by distraught staff who face the sack and who see no hope for the future. However the Unison stewards in Greenwich, where the branch is led by Socialist Party members and supporters, have been hardened by years of successful campaigning.

A decision has been made to fight these cuts. The branch knows that this also means a fight with the union bureaucracy who will want to engage in 'concession bargaining', giving away rights and having a say in who loses their job.

The branch view is different. Over the years, the slogans of "an injury to one is an injury to all" and "not a penny from our pay, nor an hour on the day" have become a reality and the branch is determined to stick to these principles.

A lobby has been organised of the first full council meeting of 2009. All are welcome to attend to support the campaign.

The lobby is on 28 January, 6pm-7pm. Town hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich, London SE18.

  • At a recent mass meeting, workers in the council's building services section have agreed to be balloted for strike action, should the council continue with proposals to make up to 27 workers from the department redundant. The workers are from the three main council unions, Unison, Unite and GMB.
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    In The Socialist 21 January 2009:

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    Fast news: My Lords, Ladies and cash dispenser

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    Gaza war paves way for further conflict

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    Egypt: Gaza conflict fuels anti-Mubarak opposition

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    Hands off Royal Mail

    Wirral anti-cuts campaign

    Save jobs - nationalise JCB

    Fighting the cuts in Greenwich

    Shop workers need a fighting trade union leadership

    Campaigning in Exeter

    Hoover workers march in protest at job losses

    Amicus election

    Glasgow Unison

    Socialist Party feature

    Obama takes power: What change will the Democrats bring?

    International socialist news and analysis

    Refugees and repression in war ravaged Sri Lanka

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    Capitalism kills, concludes study of privatisation era

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    Opposing the expansion of Heathrow

    Waltham Forest anti-incinerator campaign: Residents get results

    Campaigners fight attacks on education and the environment

    Socialist Students

    Students fight academy status

    Socialist Party review

    What's going on? The meanderings of a comic mind in confusion, by Mark Steel


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