Local Councils

Tower Hamlets council on brink of mass sacking

Published on: Wed, 08/04/2020 - 13:35

Activists in Tower Hamlets

On the afternoon on Wednesday 8 April, the Labour council in Tower Hamlets, East London, pulled back at the brink of sacking its entire workforce and re-employing them on worse terms.

Just a few days before their deadline, Mayor John Biggs and Chief Executive Will Tuckley said they would delay - but only until "early summer" (unspecified) so the threat remains live.

The move is not motivated by an immediate budget crunch. Central government's decision on funding to councils for the financial year beginning April 2020 included no new cuts, and, since then, in the pandemic, central government

Councils: essential local services, full isolation pay for all

Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 07:11

A local government worker

My union branch, Lambeth Unison, organises three main groups of workers — workers for Lambeth council, support staff in schools in Lambeth, and workers in Elis Laundry. We also have some members in smaller private sector workplaces.

Our first step, and early on, was to win full pay for all workers in the council following public health advice, or staying home for childcare because of school and nursery closures, early on. For absolutely all workers in council workplaces, including agency workers and zero-hours workers.

The next battle was in the libraries. On 20 March the library workers

Pause Brexit now!

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:04

From Labour for a Socialist Europe

Whatever our differing views on Brexit, the whole Labour Party and labour movement should call and campaign for the Brexit transition period due to end on 31 December to be extended significantly – at least an extra year, maybe the full two years permitted under existing rules.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the possibility of the UK striking a deal with the EU in time looked tenuous. The Tory government has been threatening to walk away and prepare for a No Deal Brexit if the essentials of a deal are not in place by June!

Now the next round of UK-EU talks

Expand public transport, not the airport

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 10:56

Luke Hardy

A serious campaign is picking up momentum against the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA).

The private owners of LBA want to build a new passenger terminal that will increase the number of passengers from 4 million a year to 7.1 million a year by 2030, and 9 million by 2050.

In March 2019, in response to pressure from youth climate strikers and XR, Leeds City Council declared a “Climate Emergency” – committing Leeds to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Research from Leeds University has shown the planned expansion will lead to a massive overspend on the city’s carbon budget, making the 2030 net

Covid-19: the case for public spending and public ownership

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 11:58

Covid-19 is spreading. Spreading even faster, in the last week of February, was financial panic.

The Dow Jones share-price index in the USA went down 12% in the week ending 27 February, its biggest drop since 2008.

The first economic effects from a pandemic are in some ways the opposite of the usual beginning of a capitalist slump.

That usually begins with "overproduction" - when capitalists, vying each to outstrip the other in a boom, find they've increased capacity way beyond available market demand, and suddenly cut back on new investment.

With a pandemic there is instead a "supply shock",

Salford, Liverpool and Tower Hamlets

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 11:06

Martin Thomas

On 26 February, Paul Dennett, the Labour mayor of Salford, announced that "for the first year since 2010/11… Salford Council has managed to set a no cuts budget after nine debilitating years of Tory-Lib-Dem and Tory cuts, which have taken £211 million or 53% of central government funding out of Salford".

This is surely a good move, and some of the credit must go to campaigning over years by unions and community groups in Salford.

Steve North, Salford branch secretary of the local government workers' union Unison, writing in a personal capacity for Socialist Alternative, says: "The most

Indicted for opposing cuts

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 08:48

Ann Field

Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated by the leadership of Glasgow City Council Labour Group against Matt Kerr, who is a candidate in the Scottish Labour Party deputy leader ballot running from 21 February to 2 April.

At a City Council meeting a fortnight ago the minority SNP administration proposed a cuts budget. The Labour Group also proposed a cuts budget, with the usual homilies about it being "less painful", "the fault of Holyrood underfunding", "our cuts not as bad as yours", etc., etc.

Matt, a Glasgow Labour councillor, decided that he could not vote for either of the cuts

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 08:42

Ollie Moore and Katy Dollar

UVW at St George's

Outsourced security workers in the United Voices of the World union (UVW) at St. George’s University in Tooting, south London, are continuing their campaign for equality.

UVW members and supporters recently occupied the lobby of the main St. George’s building during a university open day, holding an impromptu rally addressed by St. George’s strikers, UVW reps from victorious anti-outsourcing campaigns at LSE and St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, and an RMT activist.

UVW is also preparing what it describes as a “landmark legal case” to challenging outsourcing in court. The

Right-wing push by council leaders

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:49

Josh Lovell

Nick Forbes, Labour’s leader in the Local Government Association [LGA], has announced the results of a survey about the general election, responded to by only one in eight of Labour’s councillors.

I admit to being one of the 87% who did not respond. Unhelpfully, it appears councillors haven’t been sent the results. Nor can I find them published online.

We should take with a pinch of salt the conclusions drawn from any survey with a 13% response rate. We are told councillors believed that the two most significant factors in our loss were either dissatisfaction with Corbyn or the party’s stance

Tower Hamlets backs down

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 09:13

Patrick Murphy

The National Education Union (NEU) in Tower Hamlets, East London, won an important success on 13 February.

Under pressure from the NEU and the wider labour movement, the local council withdrew a legal challenge aimed at derailing a strike ballot.

On 22 January NEU launched a formal strike ballot in opposition to plans by the council to impose detrimental changes to terms and conditions without consultation with the union. Unison are also planning to ballot. The changes would significantly reduce redundancy payments for teachers and impose new contracts on support staff.

The NEU conducted an

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