The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 7th January 2011
CAMPAIGNS against the cuts are springing up all around the country and the TUC website is full of links to a growing surge of activity involving trade unions, student groups, community groups and many others.
There are dozens of meetings, discussion groups, workshops and education circles to train a new generation of organisers and activists.
The TUC’s “All Together for Public Services” umbrella campaign comprises different subsections for schools, health and local council services and can be contacted at: TUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street London WC1B 3LS, telephone 020 7636 4030.
The Trades Union Congress website is here and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing weeks of last year saw local authorities stretched to breaking point to deal with clearing snow and ice from roads and to keep essential social services in place for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable who could not get out and about because of the weather.
But there were not enough workers. Transferring workers on to road clearing duties meant bin collections had to be neglected. The transport system was in disarray simply because it did not have enough people and equipment to cope.
The health service has been battling with a mounting flu epidemic — not helped by Con-Dem government cuts in the flu vaccination campaign.
The postal service is still struggling to clear a backlog of undelivered Christmas mail and in every direction services have been failing because of the cuts we have already had.
But we are about to see a new wave of public sector job cut notices falling “like confetti” across the country.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of the GMB, said the number of posts under threat following the swingeing cuts to councils’ budgets earlier this year had now already topped 90,000 with more than half of local authorities still to reveal their plans.
“It is the wholesale decimation of frontline services,” Strutton said. “Every single one of these job losses has a human story behind it and people are asking ‘Why me? What have I done wrong? Who is going to provide the services now?’”
And those workers who survive the cull will be faced with drastic changes to their working terms and conditions — expected to cover the work done by those made redundant for lower wages and savaged pensions.
The unions are focussing on building for a massive demonstration in London on 26th March from the Embankment at Temple to Hyde Park. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “People have yet to feel the full impact of the Government’s cuts. When they do — as we saw with the cancellation of the schools building programme — they have been angry.
“But in 2011 thousands of people will lose their jobs and councils will have little choice about slashing away at popular and vital services.
“As it becomes more and more obvious that the cuts bear down on those who did least to cause the crash, while those who were responsible continue to live in their bonus-driven super-rich bubble, people will get even angrier. . .
“As well as traditional campaign events, the new power of the internet makes it easy for people to come together quickly as we have seen in the imaginative protests against tax avoidance in high streets throughout the country.”
The next few months are also likely to see a mounting wave of strikes against the cuts as well as meetings and demonstrations.
Brendan Barber said: “What is becoming clear to people is just how unfair the coalition’s policies are. Those who did least to cause the crash are being made to take the nastiest medicine with the worst side-effects.”
Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, said: “We can expect to see workers in both public and private sectors out on the picket lines fighting for jobs and against savage attacks on pensions and standards of living.”
Union leaders predict surge in strike action next year. Here is a small sample of the vast amount of information available at the TUC website:
Pay Bargaining in an Age of Austerity The annual TUC/IDS conference on pay bargaining will be held on Tuesday, 15th February 2011 in Congress House.
Netroots UK | Building the progressive grassroots online has organised a day of workshops, discussions and networking activity in central London on Saturday 8th January. Netroots is campaigning on Twitter and Facebook. They can be followed through a link on the TUC web page.
A group called False Economy is pumping out information and arguments about why the Con-Dem cuts are wrong and organising workshops throughout the country. Also linked through the TUC website.
Everyone who can, should get involved.