SOME 400 people demonstrated in Plymouth last week to protest against the Tory council's proposed �2 million cuts and the axing of 150 jobs. Members of the UNISON and GMB unions lobbied a social services meeting against the closure of old people's homes and children's services. A coach of residents of homes for older people threatened with closure joined the protest, bringing home made banners calling for defence of their homes and workers' jobs.
When Tory councillors shouted at the crowds, a spontaneous demonstration through the city centre drew in more people. Hundreds chanted, "Let us in!" outside the meeting. They forced the meeting to be transferred to the main council chamber so all the protesters could attend. The pressure forced councillors to find �450,000 to stop the closure of the homes and put the future of adult services out for a three-month public consultation.
But later, in secret session, the council agreed to close two family centres and make 20 redundancies in children's services.
In an indicative ballot, UNISON members in children's services recently voted by 90 percent for a full ballot for strike action in defence of jobs and services. The official ballot begins next week.
- Messages of support: Plymouth UNISON, 13 Windsor Place, Plymouth PL1 2HN. Phone 01752 313 781.
HUNDREDS OF people lobbied Liberal Democrat run Islington council against a massive cuts package last week. The cuts will devastate services and voluntary groups right across the north London borough, from old people's homes to arts centres and important ethnic minority services.
Furious protesters packed the council chamber as Liberal councillors voted to push through the cuts by a 27 to 25 majority. Labour lost control of the council on the back of disgust at cuts it pushed through.
But Labour is now opposing the cuts, and local Labour Party wards joined the protest. The pressure from the gallery proved too much for one Liberal councillor, who left the meeting in tears. That meant the cuts could only go through on the casting vote of the mayor. Instead the Liberals closed the meeting.
"THESE CUTS are attacking everyone-the disabled, pensioners, young children, council workers and their families are all going to suffer. We have to send a message to Liverpool City Council that we are prepared to fight to defend our services."
That is how a pensioner summed up the mood of the 150 people who joined a lively protest against council cuts at Liverpool town hall last week. Campaigners fighting to stop the closure of a residential school for severely disabled children were joined by nursery nurses, parents, day centre users, pensioners and council workers.
The Liberal Democrat run Liverpool council plans to slash millions of pounds from services. It has already announced job cuts.
REFUSE WORKERS in Bromley, south London, are due to strike for the day this Monday. The workers, members of the TGWU union, are employed by private contractors Cory Environmental Services. They are fighting for a pay rise of �15 a week with no strings attached. Workers also plan an overtime ban and work to rule. $ SWIMMERS IN north Manchester lobbied the Labour councillor in charge of plans to cut sports provision last Saturday. Five swimming pools face closure or privatisation following the opening of the new Commonwealth Games pool in September.
Jean Gilbride, a pensioner who learnt to swim last year for health reasons, said, "Manchester is the unhealthiest city in Britain. We don't want to lose the pool. We want to keep it council owned and council run." The council was forced to state publicly that Chorlton Baths will stay open, but refused to give any promises about others.