Socialist Worker

100,000 council jobs set for the chop

Issue No. 2233

Around 1,000 workers and campaigners march and rally in Nottingham against council cuts  (Pic: Alan Kenny)

Around 1,000 workers and campaigners march and rally in Nottingham against council cuts (Pic: Alan Kenny)


Around 100,000 jobs are on the line in a crucial battle over the coalition’s assault on working people.

Just before Christmas the GMB union said 87,374 jobs were under threat of destruction at 107 councils across Britain.

In nearly all these councils a 90-day statutory consultation period is underway on redundancy.

Most of the jobs are due to be deleted around the end of March, but some “volunteers” have already gone.

Every day more jobs are added to the list.

Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public services, said, “GMB officers are consulting members on what they want the union to do in this unprecedented situation.

“These are not town hall pen pushers but social workers, school dinner ladies, meals on wheels providers, refuse collectors, home helps, youth workers, and others across the range of front line council services.”

The fightback is needed now. Trade unions and broader anti-cuts campaigns have to resist or see vital services destroyed.

And there are signs of resistance.

Voted

Over 7,000 Kirklees council workers in Yorkshire have voted for a strike.

Birmingham refuse collectors and street cleaners have just announced two further half days of strikes.

They have already struck officially and unofficially and are carrying out a work to rule in a bitter battle over pay cuts of up to £80 a week.

In Nottinghamshire county council, following a lobby of around 1,000 workers and campaigners last year against the Thatcherite Tory council’s cuts, Unison has held a record number of workplace meetings throughout the county.

Union members voted two to one to ballot for strikes in an indicative ballot and are now calling for a formal strike vote.

The plan is to have the first day of action on 24 February, to coincide with the full council meeting to set the budget.

Meanwhile in Aberdeen workers are battling the

SNP-Lib Dem council’s demand that they accept a 5 percent pay cut for everyone on more than £21,000 a year to fund voluntary redundancies or face 900 compulsory redundancies. What a choice!

Members of the five unions in the council—Unison, Ucatt, Unite, GMB and the teachers’ Educational Institute of Scotland—met before Christmas.

They unanimously rejected the council’s ultimatum.

Contempt

Unison branch secretary Karen Davidson said the council was “the absolute pits” as an employer and had shown nothing but contempt for the workforce.

She added the union would be balloting for industrial action.

We need hundreds of thousands of workers to be striking by the time of the TUC demonstration on 26 March.

That means standing up to the cuts, not trying to mange them.

We agree with the PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka when he wrote recently, “I have consistently said not a single penny needs to be cut and not a single job should be lost.

“The cuts are not economically necessary—they are a political choice.

“We need unity. This is obvious, but it becomes controversial when concrete proposals are made.

“I do not want to see a pick ‘n’ mix approach to our opposition to the cuts, between ‘good’ cuts and ‘bad’ ones.”

Thanks to Martin Sleath for the Nottingham report.


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