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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 March 2010

Surrey workers fight cuts

THE JUGGERNAUT of cuts and closures is already being felt in Surrey, which people usually see as a place of leafy suburbs and stockbrokers. We aim to show the county's less well-known face of trade union struggles and local, grassroots campaigns.

Paul Couchman, Save Our Services in Surrey (personal capacity)

We face threats to close Shortwood infant school in Staines, threats to hundreds of essential bus services, a 'review' of fire services with a clear intent to reduce the number of fire stations in the county and swingeing cuts to community hospital services. All this is before the county council's 180 million cuts package over the next few years.

Across Surrey, people are mobilising against these cuts. Brooklands College was saved after a huge local campaign by staff, students, parents and local people. Parents, governors and staff at Shortwood school turned out in their hundreds at public meetings, organising street stalls and a petition of over 1,000 signatures. Working people's creativity and organising ability has shocked the local council.

Surrey County Unison branch launched Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) to coordinate anti-cuts activity and support local campaigns, and to bring local trade unionists together to defend jobs and services. Surrey County Council Trade Unions (SCCTU), representing all trade unions within the council, have formally affiliated to the campaign. I was recently elected secretary of SCCTU, with a clear mandate to organise against the cuts, starting with a lobby of the council meeting on 23 March at 8.30am at County Hall in Kingston.

But public sector workers and local communities who need public services, will be asking who to vote for in this year's general election. Most union activists already see that New Labour no longer represents working class people and that whoever wins, the next government will take the axe to public services.

Therefore the Socialist Party in Surrey, together with local trade unionists decided to stand me in Spelthorne as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate. Here, as in a number of other areas, there will be a political side to the fightback.

For more info on Spelthorne TUSC campaign:

www.paulcouchman.com

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In The Socialist 17 March 2010:

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Unison leadership's "scorched earth policy"


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Workplace news and analysis

Surrey workers fight cuts

Fighting the cuts at Leeds University

Unite to save Northcott Theatre


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Cuts mean poorest people priced out of the legal system


 

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