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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 January 2009

Fighting council cuts

Greenwich Unison in south London has won the first round of a campaign to stop Greenwich council's plans to 'reconfigure' the child protection service. Incredibly, at a time when councils are under increasing scrutiny following several high-profile cases, the council had proposed major cuts to the service and to workers' pay.

Onay Kasab, secretary Greenwich Unison, personal capacity

The Unison branch responded by launching a major campaign led by local shop stewards. Regular meetings of the membership took place and a weekly bulletin was produced.

The union's publicity work ensured front page coverage in the local press. We prepared a detailed report, showing that the changes would leave greater numbers of children at risk. Every councillor was sent the report.

But most importantly, Unison members voted in favour of a ballot for industrial action should the council go ahead.

The council were obviously rattled. The council leader wrote to the local press criticising me for failing to show enough sensitivity on the issue and for scaremongering. We countered this by sending the full council report to the press. Clearly the council would prefer that social workers kept quiet about attacks on the service.

Then the chief executive summoned me to a meeting to express her concern about the Unison campaign. The branch stuck to its guns and the facts, ensuring that union members continued to be fully informed.

The council eventually responded by saying that the proposals would be put on hold while they reconsidered the position. This is an excellent but temporary victory. The council will attack again but the union branch is even better prepared. New stewards have been recruited and new members have joined.

The social work stewards and members have set a great example and provided inspiration for other workers across the council. All workers in Greenwich are facing an attack on pay and conditions and at least 27 workers face compulsory redundancy.

This example is not matched by the union's full-time bureaucracy who are doing everything to dampen down militancy and force workers to accept the effects of the recession. This is why this year's Unison national executive elections are so important, where Socialist Party members are standing on a joint 'reclaim the union' slate. Unison branches at present have the opportunity to nominate candidates from the slate.

Socialist Party members will be to the forefront in campaigning in these elections to replace the New Labour apologists with representatives who put their members' public services and the wider working class first.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 28 January 2009:

JOIN THE MARCH FOR JOBS

Defend jobs and services

Era of illusions in capitalism ending

The crisis in manufacturing: Fighting for jobs and living standards

No pay discrimination against young people

Ferengi dealers


Slaughter in Gaza

Coventry protest over Gaza onslaught

Israel: Thousands march in Jaffa against Gaza massacre

Students' angry sit-ins


Anti-racism

Stop the racist BNP

Stop the deportation of Yahya Al-Faifi


Socialist Party campaigns

Socialist councillor opposes Tory plans for education privatisation

Labour's abandoning of the working class

Croydon: Striking against academies

Scotland: Step up opposition to cuts

Fast News


Socialist Party workplace news

Fighting council cuts

Say 'no' to the Metro privateers

Amicus Unity Gazette left with egg on its face

Unison right wing exposed

Victory for left in Glasgow Unison

Solid support for Glasgow strike

Building a fighting Unison leadership


Education

Build a mass movement for free education

Save our school!


Marxist analysis: history

Germany 1919 The Spartacist uprising


International socialist news and analysis

Russia: Bosses sack auto-factory union leader

Courageous socialist activist, campaigning journalist and human rights activist


Socialist Party news

Obituary - Barry Malone


Socialist Party reviews

A People's History of Sports in the United States

The Reader


 

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Related links:

Council:

triangleRyan Aldred: Why I'm standing for Usdaw's EC

triangleNottingham City Council: Major battles against cuts ahead

triangleWelsh trades councils rally against the pay-freeze

triangleSouth London council workers vote to strike

Unison:

triangleUnison get sec election shows left can win NEC

triangle

Unison general secretary ballot closes

triangleWomen workers need strong trade unions to defend their jobs, pay and services

triangleCroydon Council declares bankruptcy - no cuts in Croydon or any other council

Greenwich:

triangleBromley Libraries 'restructure' in middle of pandemic!

triangleGreenwich Unite demands workers brought in-house

triangleNo to the Woolwich monster block

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