Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/181/7975
Hackney: Time to strike back
TGWU UNION members and building workers in Hackney are to ballot for industrial action after the Labour-Tory council agreed cuts of £4 million on 6 November.
Over 1,000 angry people protested outside the Town Hall, as councillors ignored their own lawyers' advice that their attack on workers' jobs was illegal. Hackney council has a huge deficit and all but the most essential spending had already been barred. Now jobs are threatened and services are due to be privatised by 1 December.
All workers should follow the TGWU members' example and push for strike action. The council's cuts would destroy jobs, devastate services, pay the remaining workers less and carry out more privatisation in one of Britain's poorest boroughs.
Despite their financial problems, Hackney council are paying £8 million to arch-privatisers Serviceteam. Now whole areas of council services will be closed and privatised.
The Housing Directorate 'restructuring' would shut five neighbourhood housing offices - 220 workers will lose their jobs. In Social Services, £700,000 will go from the Home Care budget through privatising and restricting services. The council also wants to cut redundancy pay to the bare minimum they can get away with.
Hackney public-sector union UNISON placed an advert in the local newspaper asking any councillors prepared to oppose cuts and fight for more government finances to sign a statement. Not one councillor put their name to this statement.
Parents and children in Atherden Road and Fernbank nurseries, directly hit by these attacks, are already fighting alongside council workers. Hackney tenants convention are also refusing to sign their annual agreement with the council because of these cuts.
The council is widely seen as incompetent, inefficient and corrupt. The Socialist Party calls for all councillors to resign and for anti-cuts candidates accountable to the community to be elected in their place.
At last week's 400-strong rally, Hackney UNISON's proposal to organise a conference of council unions, tenants associations and groups dependant on council funding met with enthusiastic applause.
The conference is on Saturday 2 December. As many local people as possible should attend to help develop a broad democratic campaign. Fight these cuts and demand the return of the £50 million stolen by this government through reductions in grants over the last three years.
If you want to participate in this conference, write to Hackney UNISON, 3 Floor, Netil House, 1-7 Westgate Street, London E8.
In The Socialist 10 November 2000: