Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/630/9863
Budget Day: workers' responses
'We will fight the bloodbath budget'
AS A council workers' representative I sat awaiting our fate from part one of the Con-Dem government's bloodbath budget.
Without an ounce of irony, George Osborne told the country that while "public sector workers were not the cause of recession we must share the burden to clean it up" and that this was "a progressive budget where the rich will pay more".
For us it will mean:
- The pay of 82% of public sector workers will be frozen for the next two years on top of this year's freeze, that's a 15% cut in my living standards.
- We will have to pay an extra 2.5% more in VAT.
- Child benefits will be frozen for the next three years, other benefits will be also be cut.
- On top of this we were told to get ready for our pensions to be attacked in September.
All of this, of course, is before the massive onslaught of 25% cuts in our jobs to be announced in the autumn.
For the rich:
- Corporation tax to be further reduced over the next four years.
- The levy on the banks is less than was paid out in bonuses last year! Bankers will have to pay £2 billion but the poorest in society will have their benefits cut by £11 billion.
- As for us 'all sharing the pain' it makes you sick to hear that the royal family will not lose a penny of their £7.9 million a year, I assumed that when the chancellor said someone was on £104,000 housing benefit a year he was talking about the Windsors!
The government has delivered its intentions to us today, now it's time for us to send them a message, that we will organise the biggest fight possible against these attacks!
Unite all workers to fight these cuts
TAXING THE poor to bail out the rich! The Conservatives and disgracefully their Liberal lackeys have produced a budget that hits the low-paid hardest. Increasing VAT to 20% means that the poor will be hit disproportionately hard when paying for the staples of life.
A 25% cut in the transport budget means huge job cuts and a terrifying dilution of safety, and destroys all pretence of a 'green transport policy'.
The freezing of public sector pay is a vindictive attempt to hit those on low incomes and scapegoat public sector workers, (whose average pension is only £4,000), in order to pay for the bankers' crisis.
We must unite all workers from the public and private sectors to smash these proposals by protest demonstrations and industrial action. The RMT tubelines workers will start a 48-hour dispute from 19:00 on 23 June.
Steve Hedley, London Transport Regional Organiser RMT union
Housing benefit slashed
OSBORNE ANNOUNCED cuts of £1.8 billion in housing benefit saying that the system was "completely out of control". But spending is high because of the shift away from 'bricks and mortar' subsidy - in other words, historically low levels of building social housing leading to long waiting lists meant that people had to go into the private rented sector and pay very high rents. Landlords get tax breaks and, in effect, a further subsidy for high rents from housing benefit. It's not the tenants that get rich through housing benefit.
Budget offers no relief for youth
"THIS GOVERNMENT have abolished the Future Jobs Fund with no replacement", said Ben Robinson, Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) chair.
"Benefit cuts announced today of £11 billion are expected to include Job Seekers Allowance and nearly £2 billion from housing benefit, both already lower if you are a young person.
"With the intention to sell off the Student Loans Company, the first step towards charging commercial interest rates, and cuts already announced to further and higher education funding, this is a government that is taking from youth without returning any offer of a future.
"All the while big business is offered the lowest corporation tax rates ever."
"The recession has seen the future promised to young people shattered. This government is not even offering to help pick up the pieces."
Build a socialist alternative
"WE WILL fight these cuts" was the loud message from the Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) protest outside Deptford Jobcentre in south London on budget day. Speakers from the lecturers' union the UCU, the NUT teachers' union and the PCS civil service union graphically spoke of what this government and the local council cuts already mean.
After a marvellous campaign to save Deptford Job centre Tony Reay, PCS rep, said the government had now reneged on the deal and the Jobcentre faces closure for the second time in recent years.
NUT secretary Martin Powell-Davies highlighted the attacks on schools with the Academies Bill. Martin also spoke of the need to try to unite the different anti-cuts campaigns into a Lewisham wide anti-cuts campaign.
Annie Holder, UCU representative in community education, Lewisham, outlined the cutting of crèche services to parents in adult education with 26 crèche workers facing the sack.
Mark Nicholson from Lewisham YFJ spoke of the attacks facing young people. All the speakers made clear the determination of their union members and people in the local community to fight these cuts.
In summing up the protest former Socialist Party councillor Ian Page spoke of the need to build a new mass party based on socialism to provide the political alternative to all the parties carrying through these cuts.
Ballot for action
THE FOLLOWING motion was agreed unanimously at Lewisham National Union of Teachers (NUT) general meeting on 21 June. In part it states:
"This Association agrees that the union, locally and nationally, must mount a determined campaign to defend pay, pensions and conditions and our schools and public services from this government's cuts and privatisation plans.
We are angered that the budget is targeting public sector workers by proposing that teachers and other colleagues pay for a financial crisis that was none of our making.
These cuts will only damage our living standards and damage the economy as well.
We call on the NUT executive and the emergency SFC committee to:
- Urgently liaise with other trade unions and the TUC to fix a date for a national trade union called demonstration to focus opposition to cuts and privatisation.
- Announce that we will be balloting for national strike action against the government attacks in the autumn term and to call on members and Local Associations to build for a successful ballot result."
PCS trade union protest outside Treasury
THE CIVIL service union PCS organised a lively protest outside the Treasury on budget day. Angry protesters chanted: "It's better to tax the rich than break the poor." PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh explained that public sector workers face "the mother of all battles" to defeat the massive attacks on public services and jobs. We therefore need coordinated action with other public sector unions.
In The Socialist 23 June 2010:
Youth fight for jobs
National Shop Stewards Network
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis