The Socialist 31 July 2019 |
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Labour promises to end council privatisation: councils must do that now!
Barnet Council workers on strike against outsourcing in 2015, photo by Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
Sally Griffiths, Salford Socialist Party
The Labour Party says it will cease the never-ending drip-feed of public money to private sector leeches, with its policy announcement that a future Labour government would push councils to bring services back in-house.
While this is very welcome, Labour needs to send a clear message to the working class, because that is not what we see in our workplaces and communities.
After years of selling services to private companies, cutting jobs, moving workers to the private sector on worse conditions, and fighting against trade union recognition tooth and nail, it is hard to imagine most of the current Labour councillors implementing this policy.
While we have seen colleagues lose their jobs, councillors have ignored public protests about outrageous cuts to services - some have bleated about "difficult decisions" and "tough choices".
Councillors must pledge to implement these anti-privatisation policies now. There can be no wriggling out of promises the week after councillors are elected.
Labour seeks to calm the squeals from big business, by saying it will wait until "contracts are up" or lawfully terminated. Instead, they have to be bold, and bring back services immediately. While workers wait for private contracts to expire, their pay is cut and their terms and conditions are removed.
Corporate parasites will challenge legalities. They will take any steps to keep their nose in the public sector money trough. A determined movement of workers can stop them.
The Thatcher-initiated continued sell-off of public services has provided fat cats with decades of profits. We would demand compensation to be paid only in the case of proven need, not to the fat cats.
Bringing public services back in-house is only the start. We should not forget what has been stolen from us since the capitalists forced the poor to pay for their crisis.
It is vital that we demand restoration of services that have been cut. For example in Salford, restoring disabled children's transport and ensuring council-run nurseries - two campaigns the Socialist Party has helped support.
For too long Labour councils have administrated savage Tory cuts, but councillors have a choice. Labour's latest policy makes that choice all the easier and more achievable, even under a Tory government.
Councils could use their reserves and borrowing powers to fund no-cuts, needs-based budgets now. This would make Labour's 'for the many, not the few' believable to workers and more than just a soundbite.