Archive for February, 2012

Anti-Cuts Activists Present Alternative Budget to Portsmouth Council

February 19, 2012

Austerity is not working! That was the message delivered to Portsmouth city council on Tuesday when 100 anti-cuts activists lobbied the annual budget setting meeting, before presenting a Needs Budget as an alternative to a second wave of cuts.

The lobby was organised by Portsmouth Against Cuts Together (PACT), a community group supported by the city’s trades council. PACT brings socialists, trade unionists and community campaigners together to oppose all cuts to jobs and public services.

PACT first presented a Needs Budget in 2011 when the council voted for the first wave of cuts. This year the Lb Dem run council proposed a further £20 million worth of austerity with an intention to cut up to £45 million over three years.

Speaking at the deputation on behalf of PACT, Socialist Party member Ben Norman said: “It is clear austerity is not working. It is a failed strategy, born of a failed ideology and by continuing with it you are failing your communities.”

Deputations were also made by UNISON, to oppose the planned 250 redundancies to local council workers and by the Portsmouth Pensioner’s Association who argued that the cuts are having a disproportionate impact on those who most need support.

PACT called on the council to oppose all cuts, to reverse decades of privatisation and to reject the council tax grant from central government which will result in even more cuts in 2013.

As an alternative to austerity PACT called for a budget to meet the needs of the city, not the ideology of central government. This included investment in homes, creating climate jobs and reinstating the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Through its ownership of a commercial port the council is asset rich and has one of the largest reserve funds in the country. PACT called for these funds to be used to delay cuts while the council worked with unions, community groups and neighbouring councils to campaign for funding from central government.

As neither Labour nor the Tories, considered the official opposition, proposed an alternative budget it is clear that the unions and community groups are now the real opposition to austerity.

To continue to build this opposition PACT will be hosting it’s AGM on March 5th, 7.30pm and Southsea Community Centre.

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Anti-Cuts Campaigners to Present Alternative Budgets to Portsmouth & Southampton Councils

February 13, 2012

Anti-cuts campaigners in Portsmouth and Southampton will present alternative ‘needs budgets’ to their respective city councils on Tuesday as councillors vote on the latest wave of cuts to public services.

The campaign groups, Portsmouth Against Cuts Together (PACT) and the Southampton Anti-Cuts Union, present an alternative to austerity, allowing councils to refuse to pass down cuts to the community. The budgets also present a strategy of economic recovery including the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and sustainable job creation projects.

In Portsmouth public sector workers, unions and anti-cuts campaigners will lobby the council at 1:00pm on February 14th 2012, before making a deputation to the council meeting to present their budget. In Southampton campaigners will lobby the city council at 1pm on the 15th February.

Titled Austerity Is Not Working the alternative strategy follows on from the budget presented by PACT to the council in 2011, when campaigners warned of the inevitable results of austerity.

“In the past year unemployment has risen, and young people have been forced out of education. It is clear that austerity is not working,” said Jon Woods, convenor of PACT. “If the council vote to carry out further cuts 250 council workers could lose their jobs while over £20 million will be cut from vital public services.”

PACT call on councillors to:

  • Oppose all cuts to jobs and public services
  • Reject the central government grant on council tax, which will result in even worse cuts in 2013
  • Launch a commission to investigate equality of council pay, in partnership with trade unions
  • Invest in sustainable job creation projects, as outlined in the TUC’s report on Climate Jobs
  • To oppose privatisation and bring services back under public management
  • To utilise reserves to delay carrying out cuts
  • To prepare a budget based on the needs of the city, not the ideology of central government
  • To work with unions, community groups and other councils to campaign against funding reductions from central government

“Budget day in Southampton makes for grim reading as all parties line up to support cuts while council tax bills remain sky high. Anti-cuts campaigns will continue to point to banker’s bonuses, multi-billion pound tax evasion and corporate profits as a source of finance to protect jobs and services. We stand in solidarity with council workers and campaigners fighting the cuts nationwide against the austerity agenda,” said Gavin Marsh from Southampton Anti-Cuts Union.

See footage from last years lobby:

 

Doctors Support Call for Industrial Action Over Pensions

February 12, 2012

By a Junior Doctor and Socialist Party Member:

As the fight for public sector pensions intensifies the need for greater unity and resistance is crucial. The message from the ConDems is clear in their final offer for public sector pensions – work longer, pay more, get less. Anger is growing amongst health workers already hit by pay freezes, job losses and an increasingly overstretched NHS.

This was reflected at a meeting called by the BMA (British Medical Association) in Portsmouth this week. There was unanimity amongst the 160 doctors there to call for industrial action short of strike in the BMA’s current consultative survey of members due to close next week. This was up from a third of doctors supporting industrial action short of strike in a similar meeting in the build up to November 30th strike. This fight is not just about pensions.

With companies such as the American consutancy firm McKinsey poised to take over profitable NHS services the ConDems are desperate to slash NHS worker’s terms and conditions to make them more attractive for takeover. This is despite the fact that the NHS pension scheme is set to deliver over £10 billion to the treasury in the next four years. It is key that the BMA works closely with members of other health care unions to build a co-ordinated campaign to fight NHS cuts and privatisation.