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24 January 2018

Defend Louise Harrison - save Yorkshire women's services!

Amy Cousens, Women's Lives Matter campaign and Leeds Socialist Party

Louise Harrison, now ex-staff member of South Yorkshire Women's Aid, was dismissed from her job on 19 January by a trustee vote of three to one not to renew her contract.

This comes after a campaign to save South Yorkshire Women's Aid, spearheaded by Louise at the beginning of September, when staff and volunteers were told there would be no funding for the service from Doncaster Labour council.

This is not unique - these services are disappearing from our towns and cities because of the Tories implementing austerity and Labour councils enforcing it.

The campaign from the beginning has called out Doncaster Labour council for implementing Tory austerity. We urged them to find alternatives like using their 91 million of useable reserves. Instead Doncaster council has gone out of its way to excuse austerity and has branded the campaign trouble makers.

Continuously, myself as a volunteer, and Louise as a staff member were put under pressure by the trustees of the Women's Aid, who are also Labour members to not speak against the council.

That's when Louise received a letter just before Christmas warning her that her contract may not be renewed. This was political.

The 'Women's Lives Matter' campaign is a problem for the council's narrative of 'waiting out the storm' until a Labour government is elected. Our slogan is 'women cannot wait' - every week over two women die directly as a result of domestic violence. Austerity exacerbates these deaths by cutting off services that are lifelines for women.

Labour locally in Doncaster may be mistakenly celebrating the blow to the Women's Lives Matter campaign, but they continue to underestimate the determination of clients, ex-clients and community campaigners. Campaign members are learning that we must boldly tackle austerity, by not only getting the Tories out also by calling out the contradictions of Labour locally.

Louise has been made an example of what happens to workers who fight back and resist the cuts. Let's organise to show the Tories and the Blairites in Labour what happens when they attack workers and implement cuts.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26785