Monday, 3 December 2012

Another £21 Million Cuts Planned - But £59 Million for a new Council HQ!

Oblivious to the massive anger across Stoke-on-Trent to the real effects of council cuts highlighted in the recent documentary “The Year The Town Hall Shrank” and their lunatic plan to borrow up £59 million to build a new council HQ our Labour led city council is preparing to do the Con Dems dirty work yet again.

Council and Labour leader Mohammed Pervez said: "The cuts are severe. We simply can't afford to carry on the way we have."

No Pervez that's not correct - with £44,000 a year for your part time job as council leader you CAN carry on the way you are. It's the rest of us - the suffering 250,000 who can't carry on the way we have been for two years now - bearing the burden of cuts, cuts and more cuts!

This latest £21 million worth of cuts will include;

  • Another 250 council jobs to go. This is on top of the 2,500 already lost according to the GMB union
  • A fourth year of pay freezes despite increasing inflation - in effect a fourth year of pay cuts
  • Worker's contractual conditions are also to be attacked.
  • 848 of the lowest paid workers, most of whom are part-time, will receive pay increases to lift them from the minimum wage to a national 'living wage' (in reality an 'existing wage') of £7.45 an hour. In other words, after year on year inflation is taken into account it still means a pay cut.
  • This while Mohammed Pervez gets around £28 an hour for his part time job as council leader and Chief Executive John van de Laarschot was paid £223,203 last year alone in salary, expenses and pension payment.
  • Despite the 250,000 people who live in Stoke-on-Trent suffering from the accumulated loss of £56 million of council cuts to jobs and services over the last two years and another £21 million next year our council tax will be 'frozen'. But only after being increased significantly in recent years! Why are we being made to pay more for less?
  • Cutting crossing patrols at schools with a pedestrian crossing – unless they agree to pay for them. So what are already cash strapped schools supposed to sacrifice? Many already have collections to buy books!
  • But the Labour council want to go even further than this. They also plan to 'increase other school service charges to raise £427,00' - in other words they plan to extract another £427,000 out of schools budgets as well.
  • Reducing CCTV monitoring to focus on trouble spot areas at peak times and axing the environmental crime unit
  • Shutting the St Michael's care home, in Chell with private company vultures circling above.
  • Increasing prices at leisure facilities like Dimensions and Fenton Manor by three per cent – where do they suggest hard pressed families are going to get all this extra money from?
  • Slashing free nursery class provision from 30 hours a week to the legal minimum of 15 hours. This means many parents will have to pay for extra hours so they can continue working. This in a city with 22% youth unemployment.
  • Axing £50,000 funding to voluntary groups.

Unelected Stoke-on-Trent City Council Chief executive John van de Laarschot says: "We have tried to delay it for as long as possible, but we are getting to the level now where we have to start looking at reductions in front line services."

What universe do these people live in? Over the last two years they have closed swimming pools, libraries, care homes etc. Are these not 'front line services'?

We can only draw one of two conclusions - either they lack the bottle to stand up to Cameron and his government or they agree with the Tories and that is why they are so willingly and pliantly implementing the cuts and acting as the dutiful hatchet men and women of the Tories.

Resistance needed

However if they were to launch a campaign of resistance to central government, the Socialist Party would give our 100% support to any campaign and would help mobilise support across the city, in trade unions and in communities, through demonstrations, rallies, protests etc.

Within communities we need to oppose ALL cuts to prevent cuts councils from trying to divide us. We have to oppose the idea put forward by councillors that 'if we save a swimming pool we would have to close something else'. We would be stronger if all the various campaigns came together to fight against all cuts.

We do not believe the council when it says it has no choice. If the council refused to implement the cuts they would get massive support from across the city and further afield.

A budget could be set that meets the needs of the people of Stoke-on-Trent, as part of mass campaign involving unions, service users, all Stoke-on-Trent people, to demand more money from central government.

Linking up with other local authorities, the government could be forced into granting more resources to the city.

Locally the unions, Unison, GMB, and Unite, with the teaching unions, need to coordinate to discuss 'battle plans', and a firm response to these attacks. Members' meetings need to be organised by the unions to discuss the way forward. If the council refuses to back down then the unions need to prepare for a programme of industrial action.

The Socialist Party also thinks that trade unions should stop handing over millions of pounds of their members money to a Labour Party that is carrying out cuts across Britain on behalf of the Tories. That money could be used instead to finance real anti-cuts candidates.

With 80% of the cuts still to come in, unless we fight now, things are only going to get much worse. This is looking increasingly like what it will come to. Unless these plans are fought, the future for our city is even grimmer than it is now.

National coordination

Nationally, the unions need a strategy to beat these attacks. Unison for example, is currently letting each council workforce fight on its own. This is nothing but a dereliction of duty on behalf of the Unison national leadership.

If the council unions coordinated industrial action against the council cuts, on a national level, it would raise the confidence of all those fighting against cuts and massively increase the chance of victory.

But we need to go further, the TUC urgently needs to name the date for a 24-hour general strike, as part of a programme of action to beat austerity.

Why should ordinary working class and middle class people pay for an economic crisis created by big business, top bankers and successive governments! We say tax the rich instead! If the annual £120 billion tax 'avoidance' scams of big business companies like Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Thames Water etc. were stopped we would not need any cuts!

It's time council leader Mohammed Pervez and the rest of the Labour councillors decided which side they are on. The choice is simple - the Con-Dems, or your own workforce and the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

We need councillors who will spend their time fighting for the government to fully fund a budget based on our needs instead of carrying out the government's dirty work of savage cuts. Those councillors who are not prepared to do so should move aside and allow those that do to take their place.

This is why the Socialist Party will be standing anti-cuts candidates in forthcoming council elections. We will be standing as part of the anti-cuts Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition to provide a fighting opposition to all the cuts parties.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Election leaflets for TUSC candidates now available

We now have the latest TUSC Election Campaign leaflets for distribution in the Wolstanton Ward and Kidsgrove Ward.

Thanks to Matt, Lucy, Claire and Andy for getting 500 delivered last night to homes in the Gloucester Road area of Kidsgrove and Becky who will be getting more out today.

We will be leafleting again in Kidsgrove on Friday and also in Wolstanton on Thursday so if you can help please call Andy on 07845893607

You can checkout and download the latest A4 leaflet here

Side 1 for Wolstanton and Kidsgrove

Side 2 for Wolstanton

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Latest news

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Bulletin No.33

Public rally to launch London TUSC campaign

Wednesday 21 March 7.15pm
235 Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2H 8EP

Bob Crow, general secretary rail union RMT

Alex Gordon, president RMT & TUSC candidate

Ian Leahair, firefighters’ union FBU national executive & TUSC candidate

April Ashley, Unison national executive & TUSC candidate

Jackie Turner, doctor and health campaigner & TUSC candidate

Chaired by TUSC candidate Nick Wrack

Click here for more...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Working class needs real political opposition to Con-Dem millionaires!

TUSC Against Cuts

Over the last week the Socialist Party and others have been hysterically attacked in the right-wing capitalist press for opposing slave labour workfare schemes. But this opposition is vital and TUSC is also at the forefront of opposition to these 'work for your dole' schemes. In the last year 83,000 retail workers have lost their jobs, the biggest increase in unemployment in any sector. The government's 'solution' is to force the unemployed to work for free for the major high-street retailers, most of whom are still making mega-profits.

Overwhelming public opposition to workfare has forced company after company to distance itself from the government's scheme. In the houses of parliament however, the silence has been deafening. The so-called 'opposition', New Labour, is silent for a reason; it introduced most of the elements of workfare when it was in power.

It was Labour that first contracted out large parts of workfare to the private contractor A4e, whose former chair, Emma Harrison, gave herself £8.6 million last year alone. It wasn't quite 'all 4 emma' though, as the Labour ex-home secretary, David Blunkett, also gets £30,000 a year as a 'consultant'.

When Youth Fight for Jobs national organiser Paul Callanan appeared on BBC's Newsnight it gave a taste of what public debate would look like if there was a real opposition. Instead of Labour's silence Paul explained how workfare exploits the unemployed in the interest of profit and gave a taste of a programme that could create socially useful jobs.

It is not only on workfare that Labour policies are virtually indistinguishable from those of the Con-Dem government. Both Ed Balls and Ed Miliband have stated clearly that they support the public sector pay freeze and that a Labour government would not reverse any of the Con-Dem cuts in public spending. Those cuts, less than 10% of which have so far been implemented, would mean misery on a Greek scale for workers in Britain.

The health service, pensions, benefits, social services and education are all facing destruction over the coming years. At local level Labour councils are all implementing government cuts; at national level Labour is saying it would do nothing to reverse the devastation being wreaked by the Con-Dems.

Big business parties

The Tory party is a party of big business, of the 1%, with a cabinet of millionaires, funded to the hilt by the City of London. Working class people desperately need a mass party that stands up in the interests of their class. New Labour is not such a party, on the contrary, it is today another capitalist party, with policies driven by the desire to please the markets rather than meet the needs of the population.

This is becoming clear to increasing numbers of workers. This year at the conferences of those unions that are still affiliated to the Labour Party there will be unprecedented pressure to discuss why members money is being used to fund a party that is attacking their pay, pensions and public services. At the GMB conference, for example, an unprecedented 25% of resolutions submitted are questioning the link with Labour.

Break the link

It's no surprise that the Socialist Party and others call on the affiliated trade unions to break the link with Labour. However, non-political trade unionism is not the answer. In 2011 workers showed their industrial might, above all with the magnificent two million-strong public sector strike on 30 November. But the trade union movement also needs a political voice, otherwise we are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.

The Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which brings together socialists and trade unionists to stand anti-cuts candidates in elections is a step in the direction of such a party. The list TUSC is putting forward in the London Assembly elections is an important step forward. It is headed by Alex Gordon, President of the RMT, and also includes prominent trade unionists from FBU, PCS, CWU, POA and others. In addition TUSC is encouraging trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to stand in as many local authority seats as possible.


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition Staffordshire

Public Meeting




Wednesday 29th February – 7.30pm

Holy Trinity Community Centre

London Road, Newcastle, Staffs ST5 1LQ

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Bulletin No.30

6 February 2012

TUSC Conference report

TUSC Bulletin thought the TUSC election conference was good. A mixture of politics and organisation and a very comradely debate where agreement has still to be reached. You can read a couple of independent reports here: one from Socialist Worker here and another from The Socialist here

Call for candidates - give the working class in your area the chance to vote socialist.

We want the broadest possible challenge in the upcoming 3 May local elections to give those who support us a chance to vote for us. Last year many comrades left it very late to stand and still got creditable votes. Let us get ourselves organised as early as possible this year. Remember you will need a TUSC Candidate Authorisation form: Click here for the TUSC candidate authorisation application form

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