women at the cutting edge…

An event hosted by Feminist Fightback. Saturday 30 October 11am – 5pm, QMW Mile End Road, London E1  (provisionally – please check feministfightback.org.uk for confirmation).

Open to people of all genders. Free creche available: please send an email to feminist.fightback@gmail.com to confirm a place.

On 20 October the ConDem government’s “Spending Review” will detail enormous cuts in public services. We are already feeling the impact of earlier cuts, many effected by Labour: nurseries and libraries are closing, jobs are being lost. As the government “austerity drive” steps up, the reality is that cuts will hit the lives of all but the wealthiest. In many cases women will be hit the hardest with recent reports estimating that women will suffer 72% of the tax and benefit cuts. Continue reading “women at the cutting edge…”

the ‘social wage’ and the hackney nurseries campaign

Camille Barbagallo and Nic Beuret look at the role of public services and how the cuts axe is falling

Childcare services in the UK are under attack. Childcare services across the country are being defunded, abolished and downgraded. In this article we start with the specific cuts in Hackney to nursery places and analyse these cuts in the context of the gendered nature of the ConDem’s austerity budget. We explore both what enables these cuts to happen now and what their effects will be and conclude with some reflections on possible paths of resistance within the current crisis of care.

Let’s be honest – the public services that are being cut include things that we need, but we hate how they are given to us: like unemployment benefits. They also involve jobs that we rely on but resent having to do. But what is also true is that they are part of a ‘social wage’ fought for and won by pervious generations. Continue reading “the ‘social wage’ and the hackney nurseries campaign”

nothing will be like it was before: fighting to win

New Left Project is hosting a debate on the strategy we need to fight the coalition government’s cuts. Below is the contribution by Tom Denning, a member of The Commune.

In the past month, while the contributors to this debate have been writing their pieces, a real movement against cuts has shown its first signs of life. Around the country, anti-cuts committees have been set up, often on the auspices of the local trades Council or a Unison branch. These committees are just beginning to find their feet, to produce bulletins, to plan demonstrations, street stalls and public meetings.  At their best, they will be alliances of local worker and community activists, determined to work together to take effective action to force back cuts.

As is so often the case, the activity of the real movement has run ahead of its theorists.  But what does that movement consist of so far?  In what ways does the changing structure of the public-sector workforce determine the needs of that movement?  What does it need to grow, and win? Continue reading “nothing will be like it was before: fighting to win”

harsh cuts in north wales

Steve Ryan reports on Wrexham

The reality of the savage attacks on the working class has united activists in North Wales.

A meeting in Wrexham of the already established and active Shop Stewards Network debated the attacks and the response.

The cuts hit North Wales hard. Thousands rely on public sector jobs. In Wrexham there are estimated some 15,000 public sector workers, all delivering valuable services. Continue reading “harsh cuts in north wales”

‘unviable’ courses thanks to MMU cuts

by Mark Harrison

In November 2009, the management of Manchester Metropolitan University announced plans to shed 127 members of ‘support staff’ from their workforce; this follows a period of manifest ‘natural wastage’, which has left the library devoid of staff. Amongst students, those of the flagship art department will be hardest hit. Artists have complained that their courses will become ‘unviable’ with the loss of technicians and studio time.

The UNISON branch secretary made a firm verbal attack against management, highlighting the Vice Chancellor John Brooks’ £250,000 annual salary and the 7% increase in his pay packet as well as the development of new sites by the university, a £1.3 million budget surplus for the year 2009-10 and the fact that the cuts were announced before Alistair Darling’s 2010 budget. The union called for a vote of no-confidence in the VC whilst condemning a growth in the number of highly paid managers and “years of mismanagement”. Continue reading “‘unviable’ courses thanks to MMU cuts”

the cuts agenda and ‘social capital’

by Dave Spencer

When we are talking about building communism from below, we need to know our starting point – the state and the consciousness of the working class.

One of the greatest influences on the theory of this matter and on the consequent policies and actions of local government and of workers in the voluntary or “Third” sector is Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone (2000). In it Putnam introduces the term “social capital”. By this he means any type of social or community engagement whatsoever – formal, informal, to do with friends, work, the family, hobbies, faith, politics, sport, the community. In other words social capital refers to how society works at grass roots, street and community level.

Continue reading “the cuts agenda and ‘social capital’”

‘the resurgence of unions in the strangest of places’…

Angela Gorrie reports on Dundee

While traditional manufacturing industries are declining in Dundee, it’s beginning to seem like workers’ struggles are on the rise.

It’s saying something when a city which once boasted to be the home of ‘Jute, Jam and Journalism’ now lists Tesco as its largest single employer. Of the 29 companies who employ more than 300 people, few can claim to be involved in any kind of manufacture. While Michelin still remains, the likes of Timex have been replaced by companies specialising in biotechnology and computer games and the city council never tire of talking up their so called ‘Cultural Quarter’. Continue reading “‘the resurgence of unions in the strangest of places’…”

a ripple in the storm

Joe Thorne reports on anti-cuts initiatives in Hackney

On the last day of June, nearly fifty trade unionists, socialists, and community activists met in an old church hall in Hackney, east London.  We came together to discuss the wave of public sector cuts which has already begun, and how we can organise to push them back.

Around the city, and across the country, equivalent meetings have been held or will be held shortly.  Many of them, such as ours, will decide to establish campaigns of one sort or another.  The real content of these campaigns, just like the content of the meetings, will differ widely. Continue reading “a ripple in the storm”

fighting the cuts: the task ahead

By Kojo Kyerewaa

The emergency budget comes as no surprise to most on the revolutionary left. The Coalition agreement, rather than holding back Conservative plans for dismantling the welfare state, has instead legitimised them in the public’s eyes.

we should put forward a vision for public services, not only defend the status quo

The day after the budget, polls showed that 57% of the population approved of the cuts. Although polls can’t necessarily be trusted, there was a distinct lack of protests.

Continue reading “fighting the cuts: the task ahead”

facing different ways?

by Professor Gregor Gall, University of Hertfordshire

In recent weeks, the RMT union has put out a number of important calls to the union movement. First, it called for an emergency meeting of the TUC general council in order to develop a planned and pro-active collective response to the austerity package announced by the coalition government. Second, through its general secretary, Bob Crow, the union made a rousing call to arms at its annual conference for ‘general and co-ordinated strike action across the public and private sectors to stop their savage assault on jobs, living standards and public services.’ In this, the union said ‘The unions must form alliances with community groups, campaigns and pensioners organisations in the biggest show of united resistance since the success of the anti-poll tax movement. Waving banners and placards will not be enough – it will take direct action to stop the Cameron and Clegg cuts machine.’

In other words, the RMT was calling on the union movement to take Greek, French and Italian lessons through mass mobilisations. Yet, in the same two weeks as these developments, the TUC general council agreed to invite David Cameron to address its congress in September. There was only one dissenting voice on the general council (that of the FBU). Initiated by TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, the general council members bar one accepted his logic that the TUC and union movement should engage in dialogue with the new coalition government. Here it seems that for the TUC it is pretty much business as usual in as much that the TUC wants to be accorded the status of a social partner by the new government even though there is no chance of that – certainly less so than there was under the ‘new’ Labour years. Therefore, the union movement can be said to be facing at least two different ways. Continue reading “facing different ways?”

who benefits from cuts?

by Adam Ford

European governments have been announcing public spending cuts almost daily since they agreed a €750 billion ‘rescue package’ for the euro currency a fortnight back. Greece (€30 billion), Spain (€80 billion), Italy (£24 billion) and Portugal (£2 billion), were this week joined by the new UK government, which slashed £6 billion with immediate effect, and promised the financial markets much, much more.

In their statement, Conservative Chancellor George Osbourne and Liberal Democrat Treasury secretary David Laws (who would later be forced to resign following expenses revelations) declared there would be a civil service “recruitment freeze”, along with substantial losses for regional and university budgets. The Transport department will lose £683 million, meaning a drastic scaling back of badly needed road maintenance seems inevitable. Continue reading “who benefits from cuts?”