Socialist Worker

Resistance needed as council cuts loom

Issue No. 2770

Unison members on strike in north London in 2018

Unison members on strike in north London in 2018 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Councils in England, Wales and Scotland face huge budget deficits of almost £3 billion for the next financial year.

The analysis, published by the Unison union last week, underlines the necessity of councils fighting against the government and not meekly passing on cuts.

The record shortfall in 2022-23 will lead to service and staff cuts at local ­authorities across Britain.

Hampshire county council faces £66 million cuts next year.

Eight libraries across the county have already closed within the past year, at the cost of 50 jobs, and the county’s remaining library opening hours have been ­significantly reduced.

Hackney council in east London faces an £11 million deficit in a borough where 48 percent of children live in poverty.

Teaching assistant jobs have been cut during several school restructures over the past year.

Jobs

Cheshire West and Chester council is expected to find another £26 million cuts. This is despite axing social care services by closing three respite centres. The move slashed 95 beds and 98 jobs.

Unison general ­secretary Christina McAnea said, “These council-funding ­shortfalls will result in cuts that are likely to hit the ­poorest in society hardest.

“Children struggling in class won’t be able to get the extra help they need to succeed. Families of the elderly and people needing support will be denied the services on which so many of them rely.

“Access to parks, libraries and community facilities are at serious risk of being taken away.

“The government must step up and help local councils desperately trying to keep afloat.”

It’s right to demand more resources from the ­government. But that won’t happen without a fightback by workers, and councils defying the Tories.

Council funding in Scotland and Wales is a devolved issue.

But here too the Scottish National Party and Labour governments have cut ­council finding.

Year after year there are alarms about council cuts. But the resistance is weak.

This has to stop.


Scottish council workers start strike vote on pay

sections of Unison union members working in Scotland’s 32 councils began a strike ballot over pay this week.

The union is balloting waste and recycling services, school cleaning, catering, and janitorial services.

Cosla, the umbrella body representing council employers, had previously offered staff earning less than £25,000 a flat rate rise of £800.

Recently Cosla came back with a revised offer of £850.

This works out as just an additional 97p per week on top of the first offer.

Services

Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland’s head of local government, said, “Without these workers going above and beyond to keep services running during the past year, their colleagues in the NHS would have been left without childcare.

“Our mortuaries would have been overwhelmed, our children would have been left without an education and our elderly would have been left without care.”

She added that to date they have received no reward or recognition of their efforts at all, which is “simply not good enough”.

Workers must now campaign to deliver a big Yes vote for strikes.

They must then fight to make sure the union leaders call action immediately and the sections on strike are not isolated.


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