Birmingham Labour council threatens 1,000 jobs … national Unison leadership responds meekly

The Labour council in Birmingham is considering cuts of up to £120 million for the next financial year, according to a press release issued by Unison on Tuesday (

This could mean the loss of up to 1,000 jobs and the destruction of services provided by those workers.

What is the response of the leadership of my union to this threat to its members? To mobilise the community and workforce in a mass campaign to defeat these cuts? To threaten to withdraw union funding (including the subs of the very workers threatened with the sack) from Labour unless it defends our members’ interests?

No. Exactly the opposite! Unison is going to work with the Labour council and jointly approach Eric Pickles on bended knee, for more money “.. to try to minimise the impact of these bigger than expected budgets cuts”.

Inspiring stuff! Are they going to help the council decide which of our members’ jobs to cut first?

A Unison member's placard on the 20th October TUC demo, photo by  Socialist Party

A Unison member’s placard on the 20th October TUC demo, photo by Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Unison’s leadership blames the cuts on the previous Lib-Dem authority and the Con-Dem government in Westminster but instead of enthusiastically working towards organising a 24-hour general strike to bring this government down, their approach is to ask that insect Pickles for fair play.

Elsewhere on Unison’s website, members are asked to sign a petition requesting Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires re-think their economic strategy.

Petitions to our class enemy will not save our members’ jobs in Birmingham or anywhere else. Neither will justifying Labour councils carrying through Tory cuts.

Only a fight mobilising our members at a local and national level can do that. If Unison would add its weight to Unite and other unions campaigning for a general strike, including PCS, RMT and POA, then we can build a movement that will bring this government to its knees. For that we need to reclaim our union and give it a fighting democratic leadership.

A UNISON steward

More information about the threatened cuts and also about the local campaigning against them will be posted soon.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 24 October 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.