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Who should Coventry council workers vote for?

(April 26, 2012)

Who should Coventry council workers vote for in the 2012 local elections?

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For the last 12 months the ConDem coalition has continued attacks on working class people and their families to ensure that they pay the price for the crisis caused by the bankers, speculators and their economic system. Much that workers have won in previous generations, for example the NHS and the Welfare State, is under attack.

Public sector workers, including council workers here in Coventry, have faced the full force of these policies. And it is going to get worse, with only around 8 per cent of the announced cuts having been made.

Pay, pensions and privatisation

Pay and pensions are being savaged, the pay freeze goes on and we had to take strike action on 30th November to defend our pensions. They want us to pay more, work longer, and get a worse pension and would clearly like to privatise whole swathes of the public sector – as part of their ‘race to the bottom’

So who should we vote for to defend us and oppose these attacks? Labour?

In a situation where the Tories are piling on the cuts, Labour says they would have done the same, perhaps a little slower. A key feature of these policies are that most of them, such as privatisation of the NHS and attacks on pensions – were started under the Labour government.

Coventry Labour Council win national award for implementing the Tory Cuts

The Labour Council have provided no opposition to the Tory cuts. Instead they have implemented them. Facing government cuts– Labour’s response has been to say ‘there is nothing we can do’ and have passed on the cuts to the council workforce and the people of Coventry. This was rewarded by the government organisation ‘Improvement and Efficiency’ who recently gave the Coventry Labour Council an award for making the cuts in an efficient manner. This speaks volumes!

Labour Council refuses to pay up the £250 payment for those earning under £21,000

Each public sector worker earning under £21,000 was supposed to get a £250 payment (from the Coalition’s 2010 budget). Local government employers refused to pay, and so has the Labour Council despite putting £600,000 aside to pay for it in its budget. Requests from Unison, GMB and Unite at a local level have fallen on deaf ears – hundreds of council workers signed petitions demanding this money – meanwhile the Council pays £8.8 million to private consultants to advise on implementing the cuts

Will Labour defend our public services?

Unfortunately all evidence points to a negative answer to this question.  Look at Labour’s record of 13 years in government.  They introduced tuition fees, Academies, made council worker’s take pay freezes, went after our pensions, opened up the NHS to private firms, first mooted the idea of a Universal credit, maintained Tory anti trade union laws that make it harder for workers to fight back. The list could go on! Locally we saw our Labour MPs, yes Labour MPs, tell us how the Private Finance Initiative would be great for Coventry. What have we got? Car parking charges at Walsgrave, cuts year on year and a hospital that future generations will be paying for years!

The last Labour Council, transferred the housing stock over to Whitefriars. It closed schools. So when Labour says ‘we are on your side’ we have to ask whose side?

Since the last local elections, the Labour controlled council has chosen not to take a stand with the people of Coventry against the cuts – but has passed on tens of millions of cuts to the people of Coventry. Even when we had a Labour government, and the Tories ran the council, the Labour ‘opposition’ voted in support of Tory cuts packages.

In their leaflets and in the press they say they are against the Tory cuts – but then walk in to the council chamber and vote for them. Another case of Labour saying one thing, and doing another.

Unions have produced ‘alternative budgets’ that show how the deficit could be reduced by making the rich pay the correct tax, closing loopholes etc. Have Labour signed up to this? Of course not!

So what is the alternative?

We think council workers who genuinely want to defend public services and show opposition to cuts, should consider voting Socialist Alternative.

Dave Nellist, even as one councillor out of 54, is more opposition to the cuts than the whole Labour group put together. Watch the videos of the council meetings and see who is standing up for the interests of council workers. Because it certainly isn’t any of the establishment parties.

The Socialist Party are standing in all of the 17 wards in Coventry, and supporting an independent anti cuts challenger in Foleshill (William Bromwich). We are campaigning to re-elect the only anti cuts councillor in Coventry; Dave Nellist in St Michaels.  Our candidates include trade union leaders from the city, youth activists, and community campaigners. All with a track record of standing up for all working class people. Dave has managed a great deal as one councillor. Dave is a voice for workers in this city. Think of what more Socialist councillors could achieve.

Vote Socialist Alternative and join the fight for Socialism!

We would ask for your vote – but to also consider a few other things as well. Think about joining the Socialist Party. Our members and supporters are active in the council trade unions. We argue for strong, combative, democratic trade unions to co-ordinate action to resist the cuts and to beat this government.

We also think that there needs to be serious questions asked about the political direction of the trade unions. Why are our unions giving any support, financial or otherwise, to parties and candidates that do not support trade union policies. The Socialist Party is proud to be part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which has official backing from the RMT trade union and support in a personal capacity of leading members of Unison, CWU, PCS, FBU, UCU, NUT and many more unions

Over 100 years ago trade unions decided that they needed a political party to represent their interests, and went about setting up the Labour Party. The situation is very similar today.

Vote Socialist to fight the cuts; and whatever the result of the election, we will need to organise the biggest campaign possible in the workplaces, on the streets and in the communities to beat the government, and win the battle of our generation to defend public services.

If are you are interested in joining the Socialist Party or finding out more information, email us on coventrysocialists@googlemail.com or click here

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