On the 19th November, local council workers and supporters gathered outside the Leeds Civic Hall. Inside, councillors were deciding whether to close the final local authority run Adult Care Homes and cease the community generic services within within Leeds. This would lead to up to 500 job losses and leave some of the most vulnerable in society at the mercy of the private sector. There was a mood of anger, not just against the Tory and Lib-Dem Cuts, but also against Labour, who have been the ones welding the axe.
Tanis Belsham-Wray and Manny Dominguez, Leeds Socialist Party
Since 2010 the Labour –led council has accepted £200million pounds worth of cuts as part of the Tory-led Con-Dem Austerity programme rather than making a stand to oppose them. Up to 2,000 jobs have gone in the last three years predominantly through the Early Leavers initiative and we have seen an endless amount of restructures that have seen some front-line services close. But the impact of the accepted £81m (if not more) over the next two financial years up to 2016 will see a marked decrease in size of the Council, which could see as many as between 1,400 and 1,600 posts go and more front-line services disappear as well as a deterioration of your terms and conditions, which, if accepted, will never be seen again.
Socialist Party members within the 4 council trade unions, Unison, GMB, Unite and UCATT, have been arguing that workers must reject these proposals, and distributing a leaflet to that effect during the ongoing ballot (see bottom of the page). We are weary with the situation we find ourselves in but Co-ordinated industrial action is the best way to defend our terms and conditions and defend our jobs and services at the same time.
We must also reject the insulting national pay proposal to get strike action back on the agenda. To strike on pay is about defending our jobs and services as well. Many of our services are under threat and the families who need our services the most will suffer if we do not make a stand. The fight for better pay is the same fight to defend our terms and conditions and jobs and services.
The crocodile tears of labour will not stop the austerity; we need a mass movement and political alternative against the cuts. The Labour party cannot proclaim to be opposed to cuts whilst inflicting them. We don’t trust them at council level, so don’t trust them at national level. This is why next year the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be running across Leeds as an anti-cuts alternative and a step towards building a political party that represents not just local council workers, but also the service users and that is not in the pocket of big business.