The gloves are off. Doncaster Council has been providing training sessions for managers at the Keepmoat Stadium advising them how best to implement the cuts.
Staff are to be told they must expect wholesale redundancies, changes to employment contracts and drastically pared down services which, by managements’ own admission, could fall foul of existing legislation which currently guarantees a minimum standard of provision.
Doncaster will be particularly hard hit, because the public sector is by far and away the largest employer in the area.
As a result of the cuts, the economy is projected to shrink by well over 10% ensuring Doncaster becomes an unemployment black spot with little service provision for the most needy.
Incredibly, the Council are to justify the cuts as part of Cameron’s idea of a ‘Big Society’.
In reality, Cameron, an Old Etonion toff, is determined to finish the job Thatcher started - to dismantle the welfare state. His idea of a “Big Society’ is a cover allowing the Tories to replace secure, pensionable jobs with the voluntary sector, churches and charities.
Rather than a big society, Cameron wants a divided society where academy schools separate middle class children from the rest; where council house tenants can be removed at a whim and where trade unionists, wishing to resist the cuts, buckle under the weight of further oppressive anti-trade union legislation.
We should not fall for their rhetoric. But, if cuts are to be made, we suggest the Con-Dems make economies by withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan or, better still, save £75 billion by cancelling the Trident nuclear programme. They could even generate billions by increasing taxation for the rich. And, after we bailed out the banks with our money, surely it’s only fair the banks pay windfall taxes on the billions of profit they have just made.
We have to say: this is a crisis not of our making; we refuse to pay the price.
By any standards this is a callous, mean and nasty government. It is a government of millionaires seeking to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich.
It is galling then that Labour is silent on the issue of cuts and locally Doncaster Labour Party has agreed to collaborate with the ultra-Tory mayor and his band of Government appointed administrators in implementing the cuts.
Bearing in mind that in the recent elections, Labour won nineteen council seats and are now the majority party, they have a clear mandate to resist; however Labour are continuing to pander to the rich.
In the absence of Labour giving a lead, it is crucial that trade unionists and community groups come together to organise resistance.
Council union leaders should have their own ‘counsel of war’ at the Keepmoat and invite every member to attend mass meetings to discuss what form the resistance should take.
The Tories will try to divide and rule, that is why solidarity, both locally and nationally, should be forged between the different unions. We must stand together and, if necessary, be prepared to challenge the anti-trade union laws.
It is good news that Doncaster trade unionists are organising a conference on the 25 September to discuss how to fight the cuts and build for the European Day of Action against austerity measures on the 29 September.
The stakes are massive. Cameron has pledged to use the crisis to ‘change the face of British society’ and Doncaster’s mayor is prepared to do his bidding.
Resistance is possible. In Greece millions of people have taken to the streets to protest and workers have organised general strikes to preserve their welfare state. For the sake of our children, we must be prepared to do the same.
Doncaster National Union of Teachers is sponsoring a Conference of Unity in Doncaster which will bring together those determined to resist the con-dem government and defend our community.
Come along to the organising meeting:
6pm Thursday 12th August, Women’s Centre,
Cleveland Street, Doncaster
Doncaster Counterfire meeting: The Poplar Council Revolt of 1921: A Much Needed Lesson For Today | Thurs 12 August
Women's Centre, Cleveland Street 7:30pm
Speaker: John Westmoreland
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