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8 December 2010

Tories' secret job cuts plan exposed

ON 1 December the Daily Mirror published an article revealing secret plans by the Tory dominated Local Government Employers (LGE) group on how to sack workers using stealth tactics and to prepare for a bitter battle with unions.

Tim Cutter, acting deputy branch secretary, Hampshire Unison

As well as advising councils to sack thousands of low paid workers it also suggests this should be attempted without union involvement. The plans include replacing full-time staff in libraries, museums and sport centres with volunteers.

Council chiefs are urging a hard line with the unions in negotiations. These tactics expose the true anti-union nature of LGE and show that they are prepared to use any means possible to make working-class people pay the price for the crisis in their system.

Many local authorities are already applying an 'over the top' attitude to sickness absence and capability procedures in order to get rid of workers without the need to pay redundancy payments.

The trade union movement needs to expose these anti-union and anti-working class plans and organise resistance both to the cuts and the methods used to implement them.

The leaked document shows that the ruling class and their hatchet men and woman in local government are prepared to co-ordinate on a national scale to attack the jobs and pay and conditions of public sector workers. Only a similarly determined approach from the unions on a national scale will be effective in stopping this onslaught.

The bosses have always been prepared to use illegal methods such as blacklists or intimidation to get rid of trade union activists. Even where they have been shown by the courts or employment tribunals to have broken the law, employers have regarded any cost awarded against them as being a price worth paying.

The LGE plan is just another example of how the drive to make cuts in local government has lead to a total disregard for the rights of workers and their unions. Hampshire County Council for instance has attempted to carry out cuts bit by bit as they restructure each department in turn. Often they have only given a short period of notice to the unions of their plans and attempted to present us with a fait accompli.

However, Hampshire Unison has not been prepared to accept each cut in isolation and is campaigning amongst members to resist the whole cuts package. As trade unionists we need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to fight back.