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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 January 2017
Protesters surround Sheffield's cutting council
Trees protest 26 November photo Save Sheffield Trees/Twitter, photo Save Sheffield Trees/Twitter (Click to enlarge)
Jeremy Short, Sheffield Socialist Party
A thousand protesters surrounded Sheffield's town hall on 7 January in the latest action against Amey's tree-fellers operating under a PFI contract with Sheffield council. Anger continues to grow after the arrest of protesters in November, fuelled by Labour councillors dismissing the demonstrators as 'middle-class Lib Dems'.
The local Momentum group is split on the issue, with many seeming to share the attitude of the right-wing councillors. But increasingly Sheffielders are agreeing with us on the link between Amey's profit-maximising tree-felling and the failure of the Labour council to stand up to the Tory government over budget cuts and outsourcing. At the town hall demo, we distributed 250 copies of our leaflet, based on the previous Socialist article.
However, there is growing opposition within the Labour Party too. A motion to Walkley ward Labour Party calling for the immediate resignation of cabinet member Bryan Lodge was defeated, but only with a large number of abstentions.
Stag (Sheffield Trees Action Groups) are now extending the campaign to all areas of the Amey PFI contract - including roads and pavements. They are collecting evidence of contract breaches in response to council leader Julie Dore's admission that these could end the contract.
This campaign will undoubtedly be spurred by developments in Veolia's waste and recycling contract. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has been campaigning to end the outsourced 35-year contract, but been told that it would be difficult for the council to end it. Miraculously officers have now produced a report to cabinet recommending exactly that!
But the aim is to save money and sack workers. Most work will remain outsourced into smaller contracts, with only some staff brought back in-house. Disgracefully, the report argues against bringing all work back in-house because it might trigger equal pay claims!
Labour councillors have disappeared. Unlike last year, there have been no public consultations on the budget. TUSC tabled questions on contract termination and penalty payments which the council refuses to answer on grounds of 'commercial confidentiality'.
To release this information could impact on Amey and Veolia's ability to compete for business in a competitive market because the specific information refused may benefit a rival company - why should we care!?
With right-wing Labour councillors increasingly isolated, a joined-up mass campaign could surround them like the tree campaigners did to the town hall!
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In The Socialist 18 January 2017:
What we think
Labour's civil war continues - build a mass workers' party
Tories torn in two on single market
Inaugurate the resistance
We can stop Trump's sexist agenda in its tracks
International socialist news and analysis
Mexico: Mass movement against "gasolinazo"
USA: Seattle activists win housebuilding programme
1917revolution.org website to launch
Socialist Party news and analysis
'Black alert' NHS: Demonstrate 4 March
Eight billionaires own as much as half humanity!
Pollution kills 600: fight for clean air!
Northern Ireland calls snap election: back Labour Alternative
Millwall FC move threat: Defend the Den - 'wall not Renewal
Workplace news and analysis
Billions in profit for Tesco, cuts and job losses for workers
Liverpool dockers and drivers protest "appalling lack of facilities"
Manchester: BA cabin crew pay strike
London: Taxi drivers gridlock City of London
Southern Rail strike continues
Unite the Union elections
PCS union national executive elections
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
The Socialist: read it, write it, sell it
Protesters surround Sheffield's cutting council
Fracking protest in Sherwood Forest
Residents protest at plans to close nine community centres
Anger at south east Kent Momentum meeting
Socialist Party national committee agrees document for congress
Socialist readers' comments and reviews
Why I joined the Socialist Party
Theatre review: high art and savage poverty in Bootle
John Berger: remarkable art of a contradictory socialist
Socialist artists invite others to exhibit work
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