Southampton candidates standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the local elections on May 5th would like to reply to the questions asked by UNITE & UNISON in its Friday night advert in Southampton’s Daily Echo. (SEE BELOW)
“Our candidates state clearly and unequivocally our opposition to Conservative cuts to local government funding and its intention to abolish the Rate Support Grant by 2020. This represents a threat to the existence of elected local government councillors delivering public services to meet the needs of working class people and their communities.
We oppose the continued policies of cuts and privatisation of jobs and services in the city carried out by Labour since 2012, when the Tories were removed from control of the council, after the strike by council workers.
The only way to protect jobs and services and the terms and conditions of council workers is to build a city-wide mass campaign of the communities and our trade unions to demand the restoration of government funding.
To mobilise support for such a campaign Labour councillors must refuse to carry out further cuts and use its £40 million reserves and prudential borrowing powers to ensure jobs and services are protected. A legal balanced, no cuts budget was proposed to the council by anti-cuts councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas in 2013 showing what is possible. Click to read NO CUTS budget
The Tory government is divided and deeply unpopular for its tax hand-outs to big corporations and the super-rich. Enormous support exists for a fightback, seen in the overwhelming support for the Junior Doctors strike.
Our candidates played a leading role in Southampton, in the historic anti-poll tax campaign that defeated Thatcher. Nationally over 17 million backed the mass non-payment campaign and the equivalent of £7 billion was restored to local councils.
We support the call made by UNITE National Industrial Sector Committee and the UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive for Labour councils to refuse to carry out further cuts and give our full and continued support to such a campaign.
Southampton council taking such a step would receive enormous support locally and nationally, which would block any attempt by this unpopular government to use un-elected commissioners to intervene.
On the basis of such a stand we are confident that government funding can be restored along with vital jobs and services that have been lost to the city, as a step towards a city council budget that can raise the living wage to £10 and include an urgent campaign to tackle the severe housing crisis with a programme of mass council house building.”
Nick Chaffey, Secretary and Sue Atkins, Chair
On behalf of Southampton TUSC council candidates
Statement from UNITE/UNISON
‘Council cuts’ advert wake-up call for Southampton voters
The 253,000 people served by Southampton city council will be dished up a menu of such unpalatable cuts that vital public services will be decimated, if the Tories take over after the local elections on 5 May.
As a wake-up call to residents in the run-up to the local council elections on Thursday 5 May, Unite, the country’s largest union and public service union Unison have paid for a full page advert in the Southampton Echo tomorrow (Friday 22 April).
Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “What we fear is the Tories taking control of the city council after 5 May as their leader is ideological Brexit supporter Cllr Jeremy Moulton and committed to serving up an unpalatable menu of cuts that will salami slice public services.
“The unions that represent the 3,800-strong council workforce appreciate that the authority faces a £60 million funding gap by 2017/18, which has been made worse by the massive ‘austerity’ cuts to local government made by Whitehall since 2010.
“In the past few years we have worked exhaustively with the council leadership to safeguard services. There is a plan in place to do that in coming years, despite the large hit to the budget.
“Our concerns are two-fold that a change of administration could put all this at risk and voters need full disclosure because they are the service finders and users.
“We don’t feel that Tory councillors have been as open as they should be with the electorate as to what is on the cards in terms of cuts to council services, such as adult and children’s social care; and waste and recycling.
“We are writing to all political parties contesting seats on 5 May urging greater transparency and constructive dialogue with the staff side unions to show moves to outsource is not the answer to providing quality services to the Southampton community.
“That’s why we are asking four questions in the advertisement including asking councillors if the council intends to outsource services to a private company and seeking a commitment that there will be no more changes to the workforce’s pay, terms and conditions and job security.”