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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 July 2001

Hackney, Newcastle, Waltham Forest...

Defend Council Jobs and Services

LOCAL DEMOCRACY is under attack. Last week the New Labour government threatened to send in commissioners to run Hackney council in east London.

In response Hackney shop stewards are proposing more strike action.

Meanwhile government ministers have made it clear that they want local councils to provide less and less of the services, their ideal is privatising as much as possible.

In NEWCASTLE recently around 100 council home care workers stormed the offices of council leader Tony Flynn because of plans to hand services to the private sector.

Disabled people are already being visited by untrained workers with no trade union rights.

In WALTHAM FOREST workers, fighting privatisation in their borough, have voted for a 24-hour strike on 19 July.

Hundreds of teachers, council workers and parents joined a lobby of the council on 11 July against handing over education services to private pirates Nord Anglia and Amey plc.

All affected members of the NUT voted for a strike - UNISON and TGWU members also voted for action. This industrial militancy, together with a lively camapign by parents, is making Waltham Forest council very wary.

An alternative resolution opposing privatisation was moved by 'rebel' Labour councillors, the Lib Dems backed it and the Tories were split.

Workers and parents intend to keep up the pressure.

At a mass meeting of 500 UNISON members in HACKNEY council, a shop steward asked for an "indicative vote of who would come out on strike for a week if the union paid take-home pay".

Nearly everyone in the meeting cheered and held up their hands.

The government's threat to send in commissioners is like the IMF's "aid" to a Third World country. It would come at a tremendous price, including a massive extension of privatisation of council services and further attacks on jobs and wages.

The shop stewards are meanwhile legally challenging the latest 90-day notice which council chief executive 'Mad' Max Caller sent to hundreds of workers.

This runs out at the end of September and Caller says that those who refuse to sign the new contracts will be sacked!

A joint shop stewards conference is being organised shortly, by then workers will know if the legal challenge has been successful.

Whatever the outcome, the council workers are still in a very combative mood. The shop stewards can be confident that by proposing militant industrial action they will get the support of rank-and-file union members.

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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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 20 July 2001:

Fight for a Socialist World

Defend Council Jobs and Services

The Spectres at the G8 Feast

Scrap Fees Now!

The horrors of Global Capitalism

Merseyside Firefighters show their strength


 

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