Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/633/9989
Stand united, fight the cuts!
As Cameron and Clegg's government moves to dismantle public services, they could unleash a whirlwind of opposition as local public services anti-cuts alliances are formed and move into action. We report on some developments.
Hackney, east London
TWO WEEKS - two meetings! The 'Hackney alliance to defend public services' has been formed. With 50 at each meeting from many unions and workplaces and community groups, a real buzz has developed to fight the cuts in Hackney.
Brian Debus joint chair, Hackney alliance
Over 3,000 leaflets in Turkish were distributed at the Day-Mer Festival (Turkish and Kurdish festival). By the second meeting, a draft bulletin had been produced. 3,000 will be printed and distributed in the next few weeks.
An arbitrary cut by the learning trust means subsidised nursery places have already been cut from 300 to 60. Teaching assistants have already lost their jobs at one school, with many more under threat. The community college faces yet more job cuts and course closures. Two dust trucks were removed from the waste round, putting more work on existing staff.
A refuse worker commented: "At Hackney waste depot around 30-40% of bin workers, sweepers and drivers are temps and most on minimum wage, most on day jobs. Temp workers are supposed to turn up at 5.30am and wait till 7.30am. If all regular workers turn up or too many temps arrive, people are sent back home without a job and unpaid - after having been employed at the depot for more than a year".
Unless we fight now these conditions could face many more of us. These alliances will be crucial in deciding whether this government founders as Thatcher's Tories did over the poll tax.
Lewisham, south London
ON 14 July, 100 people joined a lobby of Lewisham's mayor and cabinet meeting. Socialist Party member and Lewisham NUT branch secretary Martin Powell-Davies called the lobby in response to £60 million worth of cuts tabled for the next three years.
Cuts include closing six crèches, five libraries, a £1 million cut to adult social care and one in four council jobs to go. The lobby had trade union banners from UCU, Unite, GMB and the NUT and banners from campaigners fighting library closures.
Former Socialist Party councillor Ian Page spoke, pointing to when the mayor had been forced, under pressure from local campaigns, to overturn decisions. In the meeting, mayor 'Sir' Steve Bullock felt the pressure, telling campaigners to "get real" then branding us 'f**king idiots', as reported in the press. Obviously a man who lives in the anodyne world of New Labour finds reality too hard to handle.
It was an important beginning for Lewisham's united anti-cuts alliance with the detail on most cuts still to be announced in the coming months. It also proved that despite fighting rhetoric, there is no new approach for New Labour.
The day after the lobby Lewisham Unison branch passed a motion to prepare for industrial action against the cutbacks, showing workers' growing anger and willingness to fight.
FOLLOWING THE Northern Public Services Alliance's successful launch at a meeting of 200 Unison, PCS and Unite members on 24 June, meetings have been organised across north-east England to launch local campaigns. The Alliance has the support of the Northern TUC and all the public sector unions.
A Unison member
In a region where 34% of jobs are in the public sector following the destruction of the mining, shipbuilding and steel industries, the Tory/Liberal budget and autumn spending review threatens to destroy at least 50,000 public sector jobs and devastate services over the next three years. A return to the 15% plus unemployment levels of the 80s and 90s is likely.
These meetings are an opportunity to start building mass campaigns involving both public sector workers and service users. It is vital they support the call of the PCS and others for the TUC to organise a national demonstration against these attacks.
- 26 July North Tyneside - Wallsend People's Centre, 10 Frank Street, Wallsend
- 27 July South Tyneside - Conference Room 3, South Tyneside College, South Shields
- 28 July Durham - Shakespeare Hall, North Road, Durham
- 29 July Northumberland - Methodist Church Hall, Howard Terrace, Morpeth
- 29 July Teesside - St Mary's Centre, 90 Corporation Road, Middlesbrough
- 4 August Sunderland - Committee Room 2, Sunderland Civic Centre
In The Socialist 21 July 2010:
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party workplace analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis