The Socialist 20 June 2018 |
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Knowsley council pushed back on cuts and privatisation
Stop the cuts, photo JB (Click to enlarge)
Merseyside Socialist Party reporters
The right-wing Labour group in Knowsley council, Merseyside, has been forced into a climbdown on two important measures.
It was their intention to sell off 10% of the public park areas in the borough for housebuilding, and to transfer the adult social care services to an arms-length company initially set up by neighbouring Sefton council, but to be joined also by Halton council; all three being Labour councils!
Both of these measures were opposed by Unison and the other affected unions.
The proposal to sell off parkland also provoked a campaign of public protest, and resulted in Labour losing two council seats in the May elections, one to the Green Party, and one to an independent who specifically campaigned on the parks issue.
The proposal to outsource adult social care was correctly seen by staff as an initial step that would ultimately lead to full privatisation, and on worse terms and conditions.
In Halton, Unison's objections to the transfer proposal resulted in the council pulling out of the scheme at an early stage, whereas Knowsley initially carried on.
Unison initiated a campaign of vigorously lobbying councillors, called a well-attended public meeting in order to involve parents and carers of users of adult social care services, and were joined by the other unions in this.
They also organised a consultative ballot of adult social care members, and on the basis of a 68% turnout, received a 97% vote for strike action!
Faced with such determined opposition, the council backed down, but the political question of the continued right-wing nature of Labour local government in the party's urban heartlands illustrated here, despite the Corbyn leadership, remains unresolved.