A sea-change is in the air. Trade unionists across the country are calling upon Labour Councils to stand firmly opposed to the Tories continuing onslaught upon our public services.
In January, the national local government committee of Unite the Union set the wheels of defiance spinning when they passed a motion calling upon Labour to set legal ‘no cuts’ budgets by using reserves, capitalising eligible general fund expenditure and borrowing ‘prudentially’ to generate resources.
Unite’s motion made it clear “That the financial measures must be combined with a national campaign, linking Councils, trade unions and communities in a fight against the Tories austerity programme.”
Earlier this month, this motion gained more support when the Local Government Service Group Executive of UNISON, the union representing the majority of local government workers, made similar demands upon Labour Council’s to fight back now, rather than later.
That such calls are taken up here in Leicester is vital.
In his revealing First-Person piece, “Tories want to weaken local government” (February 17, Leicester Mercury) Rory Palmer, the deputy major of Leicester explains that while the City Council used to receive £208 million a year from the government (in 2010/11), by 2019/20 this will have been slashed to just £28 million!
Palmer describes this as a “nightmare financial challenge.” He then suggests that the Prime Minister should listen “to local government and residents affected by his spending cut”.
But what is clear is that the government will not listen to the people of Leicester unless they are forced to do so. Palmer is right to say that the Tories are “aggressively weakening local government,” which suggests that our city needs to fight-back now before it is too late.
The cuts that Palmer describes are intolerable and must be resisted.
Join the lobby of Leicester City Council on February 24 from 4.30pm on Town Hall Square, to call upon our Labour councillors to set a ‘no cuts’ budget and begin to lead a fight back against the Tories attacks on the 99% of us.
Letter emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on February 18.
Compare Leicester’s reaction to the brutal cuts to those of Liverpool City Council during the 1980s (Liverpool: A City That Dared To Fight).