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Posted: 27 January 2014
In the next month or so local councils will be deciding their budgets for 2014-2015, the last full financial year before the general election.
There is no dispute that councils face a dire financial situation. Even the Tory chair of the Local Government Association, Sir Merrick Cockell, has warned that the current funding levels for local councils "will not see us through for very much longer". Such complaints from a Tory politician are hypocritical but they reflect the real crisis facing local council services.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee discussed at its January meeting what councils could actually do to meet this crisis.
Posted: 27 January 2014
TUSC supporters join the '3 Cosas' workers, cleaners and other ancillary workers at the University of London, who have been fighting for a living wage and better conditions for some time, winning some significant victories. Their 'three Cosas', the theme of the current battle, are sick pay, holidays and pensions.
Posted: 27 January 2014
The 'rebel councillors' and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee members, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, have denounced Southampton's Labour-controlled council for holding a 'sham consultation' on this year's city council budget rather than organising a mass campaign to save public services.
The following statement was published in the 'In Our View' column in Southampton's local paper:
In Our View
Posted: 8 December 2013
Interview with Dave Nellist, BBC website, 13 July 2013, reposted on TUSC website 8 December 2013
As many MPs rush to condemn proposals to give them an 11% pay rise, few have taken the lead of the former member for Coventry South.
From his election in 1983 to his deselection by Labour in 1992, Dave Nellist kept less than half his salary.
Posted: 7 December 2013
TUSC Chair and ex-Labour MP Dave Nellist said "Osborne thinks that austerity is working, but the queues at foodbanks and pay day lenders tell a different story.
"This government of millionaires might think things are improving, but most ordinary working class people are facing a Dickensian future rather than a bright recovery.
"This government of the rich, for the rich, want us to work even longer. It is to be made even harder for unemployed young people to claim meagre benefits. Further massive cuts threaten essential public services and jobs.
Posted: 27 November 2013
The by-election under way in Glasgow city council's Shettleston ward (with polling day on December 5th) saw a recent hustings debate hosted by Save The Accord Centre campaigners in Shettleston Community Centre.
The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate, underground driver and Unite member Jaime Cocozza, reports on what happened:
"Only three of a potential twelve candidates turned up. Labour, having already voted to shut down the Accord Centre to make way for a car park for the Commonwealth games, showed exactly what they thought of the campaign by sending their candidate to a meeting with local police instead!
Posted: 26 November 2013
After Southampton's council services have suffered ¬£57 million cuts since 2010 the new Labour council (elected in 2012) has announced a further ¬£60 million cuts to come over the next three years.
Last week's council meeting was the last before councillors vote for the council budget in February next year. Southampton Councillors Against Cuts, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, members of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee, went to the meeting to urge Labour councillors to reject the cuts agenda and launch a mass campaign to fight central government for the funding the city needs. Through using reserves and borrowing powers to fund the budget gap, as Keith and Don put forward at this year's budget-setting meeting, it would be entirely possible to protect jobs and services. By refusing to implement the cuts the council would give a lead and build the mass support needed that could force a weak and unpopular government into retreat.
Moving their resolution (printed below) Keith said:
Posted: 25 November 2013
A meeting of trade unionists, socialists, anti-cuts and environmental campaigners met in Derby last week (19 November) to launch the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and discuss plans to stand across the city in the 2014 local elections.
A second public meeting has been organised in Sinfin on Wednesday 27th November at the Sinfin Moor Social Club, Areleston Lane, Sinfin, Derby, DE24 3DH, from 7.30pm till 9pm. One of the speakers will be Dorothy Skrytek, a member of the campaign against the Sinfin incineration plant and the Friends of the Earth.
The November 19 meeting was addressed by Harry Smith, a former Labour councillor who was part of the socialist Liverpool city council between 1983-87. Along with 46 other councillors, Harry set a budget based on what the city needed to provide jobs and services and built a campaign to demand more money from the Thatcher government. Harry described that whilst other Labour councils were passing on cuts, Liverpool built houses, swimming pools, parks and created more jobs. This shows what a council can do if it is prepared to fight.
Posted: 21 November 2013
Brent mother of five Isabel Counihan Sanchez, who along with a dedicated group of supporters, has been fighting attempts to force her family out of Brent, has now decided to stand for election in next year's local elections as a Brent Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate.
Isabel and family were made homeless in April 2012 when their benefits were dramatically cut by Brent council and they were evicted from rented accommodation. Despite her husband Anthony working full-time as a bus driver the family were still reliant on these benefits to pay the staggering rent of ¬£690.00 per week for their home in Kilburn. After being evicted they were placed in temporary accommodation in Ealing with an UN-affordable rent of ¬£500.00 per week.
This put the family under tremendous pressures because the accommodation was totally unsuitable due to lack of space. Sarah, A.J, Orla & Aiden were faced with long treks to school as far as Kenton (Brent) and their youngest son, Vinny, who is Autistic was also put under tremendous pressure being completely disorientated by the changes. Added to this they were removed from their local network of family and friends.
Posted: 12 November 2013
Hackney and Islington Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) organised a very successful showing of the film, 'Riot from Wrong', at the local Rio cinema last Saturday.
Around 100 people attended the event which included the film showing and a panel discussion, with speakers from a number of youth groups including Day-Mer Youth, Voice of Youth (Hackney), and Long Live the South Bank, and chaired by a Youth Fight For Jobs campaign representative.
Over a dozen prospective TUSC candidates for next year's local elections in Hackney and Islington were also presented to the audience (see photo).
Posted: 6 November 2013
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is delighted to announce that John Marston is TUSC's candidate to challenge for the Riverside council seat vacated by the deputy mayor and leading Labour Party cuts hatchet man, Paul Brant.
John Marston, veteran socialist, life-long trade unionist and seasoned campaigner, will fight for the Riverside council seat made vacant by Paul Brant's resignation.
Unlike Paul Brant John will campaign for an end to all cuts, and for the immediate end to the evil bedroom tax. He will demand that the council declares it has no intention of penalising those who cannot afford the bedroom tax.
Posted: 6 November 2013
TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALITION (TUSC) CANDIDATES IN NEXT YEAR'S COUNCIL ELECTIONS PLEDGE ACTION ON COST OF LIVING CRISIS
Nancy Taaffe, Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate said: "Boris Johnsons' increase of 25p on the London Living Wage to ¬£8.55 per hour is an insult to hard working Londoners. The fact that politicians in London think that this will be enough to live on shows how completely out of touch they are with working class people. The London Living Wage can be opted in and out of by employers as they see fit. A paltry 200 employers have signed up to the living wage since it was introduced in 2005. This means that just 11,500 actually benefit from it.
"To actually work, any measures on addressing low wages have be mandatory. This means that the politicians have to stand up to big business rather than governing in their interests as they do now. We say that employers should be forced to pay a living wage rather than offered a tax break to do so. Of course small companies that genuinely need support should get it. But big companies that refuse should be taken into public ownership.
Posted: 5 November 2013
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is contesting by-elections in twelve wards in ten different councils over the next five weeks.
This week (November 7th) sees by-elections in the Bootle Derby ward of Sefton council on Merseyside and two contests in Nottingham, in the city council's Dales and Radford & Park wards. TUSC's Bootle candidate is Graham Woodhouse, the secretary of the PCS civil service union Highways Agency North West branch and a member of PCS Department for Transport Group Executive Committee. In Nottingham TUSC is represented by Unite member Cathy Meadows, standing in the Dales ward, and GMB union member Geraint Thomas, standing in Radford & Park (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/16848/16-10-2013/nottingham-tusc-announces-candidates-for-two-city-council-by-elections )
A week later, on November 14th, TUSC is standing in the Baddeley, Milton & Norton by-election in Stoke, with Unite member Liat Norris carrying the TUSC anti-cuts banner in a crowded ten-candidate contest (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/16850/22-10-2013/stoke-on-trent-by-election-to-have-a-real-anti-cuts-candidate )
Posted: 31 October 2013
Hugh Caffrey, north-west Socialist Party
In the latest anti-democratic twist by Warrington's Labour leadership, a serious proposal for paying the Living Wage as a minimum to council staff was blocked before it could go to a full council meeting.
Rebel anti-cuts councillor Kevin Bennett, suspended from the Labour group for opposing cuts to services, had prepared costed proposals on how the Living Wage could be paid to Warrington council's workforce.
Posted: 22 October 2013
Unite member Liat Norris is standing as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) anti-cuts candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent council by-election taking place on 14 November in the Baddeley, Milton and Norton ward of the city.
Liat was chosen following a public meeting that took place in the ward at Norton Working Mens Club after thousands of leaflets had previously been given out across the ward advertising the event. In order to ensure that the best possible anti-cuts candidate was selected the TUSC leaflets stated: "We already have people with an excellent record of campaigning against cuts locally who want to stand as the TUSC candidate on 14 November. But we want to ensure we have the best possible anti-cuts candidate to represent people who live across the ward.
"So if you are a local trade unionist, socialist or community campaigner and would like to be considered as the TUSC anti-cuts candidate in this by election then please call or text 07845-893607".
Posted: 20 October 2013
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing the PCS trade unionist Graham Woodhouse in the Sefton council by-election in the borough's Derby ward on 7th November.
Graham's election agent, Pete Glover, a member of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) National Executive committee for Merseyside and Cheshire (personal capacity), has issued the following appeal for support:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Posted: 16 October 2013
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing in the Nottingham city council by-elections on 7th November on a clear platform against the bedroom tax and all cuts to jobs, services and benefits.
Due to the resignation of two councillors for health reasons, there will be by-elections in the Dales and Radford & Park wards. TUSC will be contesting these as an alternative to the three main parties.
Posted: 15 October 2013
AS GEORGE Osborne announced a further 10% cut in council funding for 2015-16 in this summer's public spending review, Tory Party chairman, Grant Shapps, ridiculed councillors for the 'good work' they were doing in "cutting their cloth more intelligently".
"When we said [in 2010] we would reduce their budgets by 26% over four years, we were told councils would be going bust by this stage" but they haven't, he mocked. "I think they can do another 10%". (The Guardian, 26 June 2013) There couldn't be a clearer answer to the idea that councils should accept the cuts in the hope that things will get better in the future. The dismantling of local public services will continue in the age of austerity unless we have trade unionists, socialists and working class community campaigners as councillors who are prepared to fight back.
Shapps' claim that council services aren't really 'cash-strapped' is, of course, completely untrue. Recent research from the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity shows that six out of ten councils are now commissioning 15-minute maximum home care visits for elderly and disabled people, with the number of such visits rising by 15% since 2008. Meanwhile the number of people who got any council-funded support in their own homes fell from 958,000 in 2009-10 to 802,000 in 2011-12.
Posted: 3 October 2013
THE WARRINGTON rebel councillor Kevin Bennett, who was suspended from the Labour Party earlier this year for voting against cuts, has issued an Open Letter to Labour councillors in the North West as council budgets for 2014-15 begin to be discussed.
As Kevin says in his letter, councillors don't have to carry out the Con-Dems cuts. This February the Southampton rebel councillors, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas (now members of the TUSC national Steering Committee) presented an alternative budget to their council's budget-making meeting. Their proposals met the legal requirements of a balanced budget at least for the 2013-14 financial year - it was not a 'deficit budget'. Scandalously, however, the Labour councillors refused to even allow it to be debated (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/press180213.php ).
But the fact was they had a choice - councillors don't have to vote for cuts.
Posted: 1 October 2013
THE Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Ray Smith won 27% of the vote in last Thursday's by-election for the Rossall ward of Fleetwood Town council in Lancashire.
GMB union member Ray stood to oppose the Tory-Liberal government destroying public services and led a campaign to keep the local hospital open. Ray used to be a Labour councillor (from 1995-1999) but joined TUSC because Labour was not defending working and vulnerable people.
As one of Ray's supporters said to TUSC election campaigners: "There's a lot of anxiety at the savage attack on people living in poverty, with disabilities, in fact all vulnerable people, by the Coalition government. I feel so disillusioned that Ed Miliband is not standing up for us or challenging David Cameron on his attack on the poor. Amnesty have condemned the Coalition for their attack on the disabled. Why can't Ed Miliband?"
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