Spats over the referendum on the alternative vote (AV electoral reform) between the Con-Dem coalition partners reflect the pressure on them from increasing opposition to their vicious cuts.
They are attempting to destroy the health service, public sector pensions and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Following the 26 March half-million strong demo the NUT and ATL teachers’ unions, civil servants in the PCS and academic staff in UCU have voted in support of taking strike action against cuts with plans to coordinate this on Thursday 30 June.
Local demonstrations will give other workers a chance to show their opposition to cuts and support for strike action.
On 5 May over 9,500 council seats will be contested across England, as well as elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the AV referendum.
Millions of people will see these elections as an opportunity to express their hatred for the axe-wielding Tories and Lib Dems. However, while there is no mass party through which working class people can effectively fight the cuts, Labour is likely to benefit from this desire to punish the government. But this will not be done with great enthusiasm – Labour’s slogan of “cuts too far too fast” is not a rallying call and their record of implementing brutal cuts in local government means huge suffering.
But as the working class in Britain begins to flex its muscles, the need for an independent political voice is increasingly urgent.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – which is standing in over 180 seats on 5 May – is a step towards such a party.
All TUSC candidates have signed up to the following local election platform:
- Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions – we reject the claim that ‘some cuts’ are necessary to our services.
- Reject above inflation increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
- Vote against the privatisation of council services, or the transfer of council services to ‘social enterprises’ or ‘arms-length’ management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.
- Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government polices which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.
- When faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing government cuts on – while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall
The National Shop Stewards Network has produced a model resolution on the next step for the workers’ movement. Please move it in your trade union and anti-cuts campaigns.
This [union branch/anti-cuts organisation etc] believes that the 26 March TUC demonstration of at least 500,000 trade unionists, young people, pensioners and community campaigners has sent a deafening message to the Con-Dem coalition that working class people will fight their £81 billion cuts package.
This [union branch/anti-cuts organisation etc] recognises that, while the march has given everyone a huge boost of confidence, it won’t be enough to stop the cuts.
Already the new financial year has seen still more local authority workers losing their jobs, no matter which party leads the council.
Cameron and Clegg have public sector pensions in their sights and the announcement of the privatisation of HMP Birmingham is another sign of this government’s desire to roll back all past gains of working people in this country to boost the profits of big business.
Therefore, this [union branch/anti-cuts organisation etc] believes that as soon as possible, the TUC General Council, in accordance with their policy, should:
Discuss the fight against the cuts and to defend public sector pensions in particular and “support and coordinate campaigning and joint union industrial action, nationally and locally, opposition to attacks on jobs, pensions, pay or public services”. TUC 2010 conference (composite 10)
Discuss coordinating strike action against the cuts.
Advocate that unions combine to plan for a 24-hour public sector general strike as a step towards a one-day general strike of all workers.
Discuss with those unions who have already committed to balloting on pensions about organising a midweek march in London to coincide with strike action so other trade unionists can show their support to those striking and demonstrate their support for strike action against these attacks which affect all workers.