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Posted on 1 April 2010 at 0:00 GMT

Waltham Forest: on march against redundancies

EVEN BEFORE the election, the axe is already falling on public services in some areas - including housing services in Waltham Forest, east London.

Compulsory redundancies could be imposed at Ascham Homes, an arms length management organisation.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge

Jobs lost could include a surveyor specialising in asbestos hazards, staff supporting repairs teams and staff checking the accuracy of bills sent by private company Kier.

Unison members at Ascham Homes' office organised a march, hoping to link up with members of UCU lecturers' union who face 2 million of cuts at Waltham Forest College, where all staff are on notice of redundancy with a further 10 million of cuts or "efficiency" savings in the council budget.

Over 40 Ascham Homes Unison members marched to the town hall. Soaked by the driving rain, marchers stayed on the steps while Nancy Taaffe, the local Unison campaigns officer and Walthamstow general election candidate for the TUSC coalition, stopped councillors going into the council meeting to ask their opinion on the threatened cuts.

Some seemed blissfully oblivious of the plight of hard-working staff, but others clearly felt under pressure to commit to 'looking into' the situation.

Louise Thompson, chair of the tenants' council, spoke on the steps and pledged the support of tenants.

She argued that the council were clearly looking towards stock transfer of housing, privatisation in reality.

The protest shows there is anger among Ascham Homes workers and also a willingness to take action, which must now be built on.

It also showed that there is currently no councillor in the town hall that working class people can rely on to defend their vital services and jobs.

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