Barry Biddulph reports on the 550 council jobs to be axed in Sheffield.
Julie Dore, the leader of Sheffield Council, will make council workers and some of the most vulnerable people, who depend on council services, pay for the financial crisis. While Julie Dore sneers in public at protesters with placards, she tells Sheffield Star readers and trade union meetings that she has protected the most vulnerable. This is a dishonest attempt to justify choosing to make cuts, rather than organise to fight the government. The image of the dented shield only makes sense if you have taken part in a battle, not surrendered before the fight has begun.
As a trade unionist who works in the child care sector told her at a recent trade union meeting, Labour’s cuts last year have already had a detrimental effect on the care of children. There are more cuts to follow: 29 jobs for people who escort vulnerable people on transport have been axed, 35 staff who support people with complex mental health problems are too loose their jobs, another 25 jobs for night support for vulnerable people will go, 42 care resource beds and 45 jobs will be shed, 11 asylum support jobs will be axed, 10 social service mini buses and 7 staff are for the chop. If this is what Julie Dore calls protecting the most vulnerable, what is the future for the Sheffield working class with £30 million more cuts next year?
The detail of Labour plans to implement coalition cuts is taken from the Sheffield Star of February 8th, 2012 and there very well informed political editor Richard Marsden. Some trade union activists know, not only from their own experience but from witnessing at first hand how Richard obtains his accurate information. These plans are straight from the Labour group leadership’s mouths. Following a meeting of Sheffield Homes staff to discuss council plans to bring Sheffield Homes back to the council, to streamline jobs and services, some union activists in a famous Sheffield bar were rather surprised to hear the deputy Labour Leader informing Richard, in public, about the exact location of Labour’s planned cuts in Sheffield Homes. At the staff meeting, the Labour councillor responsible for housing had told the meeting that they had no such plans.
The response of Unison and the GMB main local leaders have been muted. With the exception of one or two outspoken stewards and lay officials, the attitude is one of a resigned, wait and see approach, rather than preparation for a fight back. The main officials have been facilitating, or at least side stepping, as each new attack on terms and conditions is mounted. If there is any pocket of opposition then the managers approach the union leaders for a solution. The local anti-cuts group is under the control of the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party who have the members to vote through their proposals. Both these groups have the old CPGB position of pressure on the official movement not independent grass- roots opposition. Even the Alliance for Workers Liberty, the official opposition in the anti-cuts group calls for Labour to ‘fight’, repeating mindlessly the old political formula from the early Comintern in the 1920s. A grass roots organisation is still desperately required. The Commune still calls for it.