Members of Lewisham Unison union in south London voted by 120 votes to four for industrial action last week.
They are angry over plans for £60 million worth of cuts to services and jobs by the Labour-run council.
The motion, which the branch executive opposed, called for a campaign “to prepare to take industrial action to defend our members’ jobs, pay, pensions and working conditions”.
The motion also called for members’ meetings in each section to win support for action.
There was also a local lobby organised by the NUT teachers’ union (see picture, right).
Some 100 people, including teachers, library campaigners, students, Labour Party members and Greens protested in a lively demo that seemed to rattle Lewisham’s mayor.
The Unison meeting also expressed the need to work with national campaigns like Right to Work.
Around 70 trade unionists and campaigners came to an anti-cuts meeting in Southwark, south London, organised by the local trades council on Monday.
A range of speakers from the Unison, NUT, PCS and other unions talked about local fights against cuts, academies and other Tory attacks.
But they were disappointed with newly-elected Labour council leader Peter John’s speech at the meeting.
He said, “We will work with you to oppose these cuts – the cuts aren’t coming from us.”
But shouting to be heard over heckling from union activists, including many Labour Party members, he said, “I can’t stand here and say these cuts will make no difference to services.
“Until we have a Labour government we will not have an end to this disastrous policy.
“I can’t promise the next 12 months are going to be pain free. But my pledge to you is we will work together to overcome the worst effects of the cuts.”
He said a “partnership” with other councils could save cash – but this means job cuts.
Unison branch secretary Chris Cooper said, “We will fight whatever cuts come our way.
“We don’t want to fight – but we will fight to the end.”
The meeting resolved to unite and fight the cuts locally, setting up a mailing list to organise protests.
The Hackney Alliance to Defend Public Services was launched at a 40-strong meeting in east London last Wednesday.
Hackney trades council, Right to Work and the Green Party are central to the campaign, along with Labour Party members.
Community groups including Day-Mer and Gik-Der are involved alongside campaigns like Friends of Hackney Nurseries and Save Our NHS.
The alliance will hold a major public meeting in the autumn.
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