Tower Hamlets unions have held their first anti-cuts meeting in preparation for the anticipated driving down of working class jobs, wages and services in the borough.
The Labour-controlled council plans to announce £10 million worth of cuts from its budget at the next cabinet meeting. This will have a devastating effect on both service users and providers.
At the meeting some mentioned cuts which were already happening, and without any reference to the unions. Labour’s so-called determination to defend “front-line” services were given the lie.
One cut mentioned was to school transport, which affects those families with disabled children. Those families with more than one child will find it particularly hard to organise their mornings, as their children will attend different schools.
Many schools have already put into action attacks on terms and conditions before the October budget review and have announced restructures of their staff. Such restructuring could indicate the shape of things to come in other parts of the country — especially in those schools which chose to become Academies under the government’s reform programme.
The outcome of Tower Hamlets’ restructures on support staff in particular are very worrying, involving redundancies and the driving down of wages of the already lowest paid workers in the school.
The unions are responding to these threats school by school, but as the attacks continue into the new academic year the most important task of the anti-cuts campaign will be to link up school, and then link up with other workplaces across the borough in our common battles to defend jobs and services.
Meanwhile there has been only a small response from existing schools in the borough to the Government’s Academy and free school propoalss. A potential area of concern will be from parents’ desire to set up Islamic schools.
All this will put to the test the anti-cuts campaign — some elements of which show a tendency towards supporting the political “causes” of local mosques over and above the need for a clear working class perspective. George Galloway’s Respect were keen to see the mosque on all the anti-cuts platforms. Far better to invite a local Muslim family whose kids’ education is threatened by the slashing of their school service, than a businessman whose only reason being there is that he “represents” the mosque.