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9 January 2015

Haringey: A strange way to protect public services

John Dolan, Haringey council worker

I work in a day centre for adults with learning disabilities in Haringey, north London. Three of our four day centres are now due to be closed, with the one remaining day centre being privatised (or becoming a 'Social Enterprise Model'), as part of the Labour-led council's three year budget plan.

The proposal states: "Efficiencies will be made at the remaining day centre to bring its cost in line with those of other providers." Haringey Labour is open about competing in the race to the bottom!

Yet two days before the May 2014 local government elections, London Unison members received the following text message: "London votes on Thursday. Vote against public service cuts. Vote Labour."

On election day, Unison sent out another text: "Not voted yet? Don't waste it. Vote for public services, vote Labour."

Any Haringey Unison member who followed the text advice must surely now be confused. Since increasing its majority in the 2014 local elections, Haringey Labour has proposed further cuts of 70 million - 25% of its current budget - up to March 2018, on top the 117 million cut since 2010.

These proposals, called "Building a Stronger Haringey Together"(!), could lead to one-quarter of remaining staff being axed.

All parts of Haringey's public service provision - youth services, elderly services and everything in between - are at risk.

For the last four years, Labour nationally has blamed all of the cuts on the Con-Dems, but now it is on the verge of getting elected to government it is preparing the ground for Labour austerity. Haringey learning disabilities professionals have claimed these proposed cuts will mean Haringey council won't meet its statutory legal requirements!

I now face the prospect of being made redundant or having my department privatised by a Labour council, possibly under a Labour government. Trade unions shouldn't back austerity by a Labour government; they should be doing what we pay them to do - representing our members' interests.

I'm proud that I stood as a TUSC candidate in the May 2014 council elections, and I'll continue the fight for a political voice that represents the interests of the working class - while I'm also fighting Haringey's Labour cuts!

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 9 January 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.