Warwickshire County Council has become the latest public sector employer in the West Midlands to announce devastating cuts, with the GMB union revealing that nearly 2000 jobs will be axed as part of a proposed 26% spending cut. This represents the loss of over 12% of the council's total staff, excluding teachers and firefighters.
Inevitably, these cuts will hit some of the poorest and most vulnerable people hardest. They will see a 20% job-loss in adult social care, meaning that, for example, adults with learning disabilities could go without vital support. An entire youth service will be lost, and children's centres will see their funding slashed.
Stuart Richards, GMB organiser in the region, spoke to Solidarity about the union’s plans for resisting the cuts.
“Since the day after the CSR was announced we've been doing stalls on market days in towns around the county of Warwickshire. We've been taking down our union banner, giving out leaflets and petitioning members of the public. It's about trying to build wider public involvement and support.
We've also met with the other unions involved, Unite and Unison, to try and work out a collective response. We also want to reach out to the union movement more widely. The three unions will be organising joint public meetings which will give trade unionists and other members of the public a chance to get involved with our campaigns.
The proposed cuts would see job losses across 52 service areas. There are also cuts in areas that won't affect local government workers, but will affect service users. That's why we want to involve service users as much as possible and build alliances with them. One problem is that while the consultation on these proposals runs till January, the cuts are spread over three years. The council has left much of the detail sketchy, and the exact nature of a lot of these cuts won't become concrete until after January. This may catch people on the back foot. We've got to use the time between now and then to make people aware of what this really means and to build the widest campaign possible.
When our anti-cuts campaigns are seen as narrow disputes around jobs, it's sometimes hard to win public support. But this is a clear case where both workers and service users will be massively affected, so we have an opportunity to build a real resistance to the council's plans.”
For more info on the campaign, including on how to get involved, email Stuart Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 07957 265774.