200,000 Local Authority Workers Face The Axe

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AS the regime of savage cuts gets under way, in the run-up to the general election, it is no surprise that the local government workforce that maintains a very large number of vital services is the number one target.

As far as the government and the bankers and the ruling class are concerned local government workers are just a dead weight, a drain on state funds that could be being usefully channelled into the coffers of the bankrupt bankers and bosses.

That is why there is no limit to the number of public sector local government workers that will lose their jobs if the bosses and the bankers have their way.

The current BBC survey shows that up to 200,000 council workers could be axed.

Eight authorities, including Kirklees, Leeds, City of Bradford, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Lincolnshire and Surrey, told the BBC 1,000 or more posts might go within five years.

Last week, Nottinghamshire said it would scrap 2,000 jobs over three years, while Birmingham City Council is cutting 2,000 posts.

Brian Strutton, national secretary of the GMB union, said: ‘It would be impossible to have a reduction of this level without a massive loss of front-line services. It would have a severe impact on the elderly and disabled.’

Services such as libraries and nurseries, meals-on-wheels, and Dial-a-Ride all face savage cuts as councils grapple with big cuts in government expenditure.

The GMB says that with 2 million people working for local authorities the number of jobs that are under threat equals 200,000.

It is the same story with the NHS.

It is the financial crisis that is dictating that there will be only eight hospitals in the London area which can offer a major trauma centre and a hyper-acute stroke unit, plus one hospital with a major trauma centre. This equals one major hospital for every million of the London population.

In their place will be over a hundred polyclinics (if the money stretches to establish all these sticking plaster centres). They are to be privately managed or privately owned with only nine established so far. Care will be centred into the community, meaning that patients will be both out of sight and out of mind and left to die on their own at home.

It is the same story with the fire services nationally. They are being cut to ribbons. Fire authorities have become so emboldened, knowing that they have the complete backing of the government, that they are arbitrarily ripping up the agreed terms and conditions of service of firefighters, and shutting down fire stations!

They are provoking disputes up and down the country as they seek to downsize the fire service, despite the fact that lives are at stake.

Faced with this threat to very large numbers of jobs and to vitally important services, the trade union leaders have a duty to do much more than just warn that a massive disaster is on hand if these services are either abolished or privatised and hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs.

The trade unions must organise to defend the jobs and services.

A public sector alliance must be formed that will organise a general strike to defend the public sector and its services.

The government must be challenged and must be brought down, since it is wedded to these policies.

In its place a workers government must be brought in that will defend all jobs and services and expropriate the bosses and the bankers, putting the major industries under workers control and management.

The only alternative to the anarchy of capitalist production and the ever deepening crisis of capitalism is a socialist planned economy where production is to satisfy people’s needs and not to satisfy the requirements of capitalist billionaires.

That this is the way forward is becoming more and more obvious to ever larger groups of workers.