Defend public services

The battle to defend public services is recognised by the EC as a major one for the whole Unionand a battle that Unite is politically and organisationally the best placed to fight. It has emerged as the key battleground between labour and capital today.

The attack on the public services represents a significant ideological shift to the right. It is being undertaken for purely ideological reasons as part of an intensification of the neoliberal agenda led by the finance capitalists. It is an attempt also to seriously weaken public sector trade unionism, which remains the most organised in Britaintoday. The National Health Service, local government and independent community based voluntary organisations and most children’s and young people’s services could be privatised or destroyed. These were all created by the working class and all represent forms of democratic accountability unpopular with the extreme right.

United Left lay members and others from our main public sector sectors have worked over the summer to put together a strategy that was endorsed and developed at the July EC.

This strategy will need resourcing and leadership in the month’s ahead. It is vital that Unite makes a strong lay member led set of contributions to the TUC on these matters.

Within the overall fight to protect public services is the all important pay fight. It is the view of United Left members in the sectors that if we drop our guard on this and de-prioritise the pay fight and accept 0% offers, which mean huge pay cuts, our position will be weakened. The Unionmust support those sectors and groups seeking to fight on pay, particularly as the current proposals are in fact the most significant threat to free collective bargaining that we have seen since the seventies.

Further attention must be given by the Unionto the Parliamentary Bill that the Tories are seeking to move through. If this is passed the potential for a successful parliamentary challenge to the Con Dem government’s survival is seriously weakened. This would represent a move towards totalitarianism and the rule of a five year budget of extreme austerity.

The Union’s organisation of Labour Councillors and Unite MPs has been weak and must be strengthened and we must expect our sponsored local and national elected members to oppose the cuts programme.

We have to recognise that it is difficult to motivate members to fight either for jobs, services or pay unless they are inspired by a credible economic and political alternative. The People’s Charter provides the broad outline of this. But the Unionshould be producing a set of punchier leaflets showing there is another way. These could based on a more substantial alternative economic strategy document. The United Left should consider leading on this in terms of materials.

The immediate priorities include:

  • Ensuring 100 members attend the ETUC lobby on 29 September.
  • Ensuring a very good Unite turnout at the TUC lobby on 19 October.
  • Ensuring a very good Unite turnout at the lobby of the Tory Party Conference.
  • Ensuring a very good Unite turnout at the lobby against Clegg in Sheffield.
  • Ensuring that all Activists and Regional Committees prioritise the defence of the public sector. (Special public sector regional meetings should be arranged in Sept)
  • Ensuring good links with youth and community organisations.
  • Supporting sectors opposing wage cuts i.e. 0% offers.
  • Supporting a union challenge to attacks on public sector collective bargaining.
  • Producing socialist alternative economic strategy work to complement the People’s Charter and convince members there is a credible alternative to fight for.
  • Coordinating Unite Councillors and MPs.
  • Challenging media acceptance of cuts agenda.
  • Resourcing our public sector campaigns properly.
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