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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 February 2016

Fight council cuts!

Protesting against the cuts, photo Senan

Protesting against the cuts, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party

There is nothing left to cut. Even Tory council leaders don't know where they'll find the government's latest 'savings'!

The Socialist Party says: strike to save jobs and services - and fight to oust the Tories and Blairites, for a political alternative to austerity.

In Birmingham, Britain's second city, the council is trying to make its workers pay. The ruling Labour group wants to withdraw staff from nationally agreed terms and conditions. General union GMB is set to ballot its 7,000 members employed there if this happens.

There are three main proposals. Reduce sick pay to three months' full wages followed by three months' half wages - half the current entitlement. Stop performance-related raises for three years, starting in the 2017-18 financial year. And add half an hour to the working week.

The council will also charge workers who are required to have regular criminal record checks 13 a year.

Council leader John Clancy said at budget consultation meetings he will "wave any placard and go on any demonstrations against government cuts to local authority financing". But he clearly will not take the lead and set a no-cuts budget. The GMB has rightly attacked Birmingham's Labour leaders for betraying their supposed principles.

This is a serious test for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, as well as the pro-Corbyn group Momentum. Labour's leadership should be instructing council chiefs to propose no-cuts budgets.

If local authorities won't, Momentum should work with council unions and groups like the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. We need to kick the pro-austerity right wing out of Labour - or prepare to stand anti-austerity candidates against Blairite cutters at May's elections.

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In The Socialist 10 February 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight council cuts!

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Momentum, Labour and the Socialist Party

Lack of strategy and exclusions threaten Momentum

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Socialist Party workplace news

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Portsmouth: support for anti-austerity stand

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