The council union leaderships in Liverpool, Unison and GMB, have made a deal with the council not to fight. It means hundreds of their members will lose their jobs. On 5 March when Liverpool TUC and Liverpool Against The Cuts organised a protest outside the council’s budget meeting, no speakers representing Unison, GMB or Unite spoke on behalf of council union members. But rank and file members were on the well-attended lobby of 200.
On 15 March Unison and Unite organised an “anti-cuts” demonstration and rally. The GMB union did not bother to attend. Not one speaker called for strike action! The bureaucracy also refused community groups permission to display their banners on the platform during the rally and no service user was asked to speak from the communities.
The Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson, keeps saying that things must be done “differently”. But what does he mean? In reality he means privatise and use unpaid labour. He also says that Liverpool City Council must prioritise its “priorities.” Those priorities should be our communities, our vulnerable, our young people, our jobs, and our services.
However, when a businessman like Mark Fletcher-Brown (who was paid £650 a day nearly £50,000 in total in 2013) hired by Mayor Anderson argues for Cameron’s policy of shrinking the state, it means that this Labour council has nothing other than a pro-business and pro-privatisation agenda.
Never in recent times have attempts to build something new have been so wide. Those who want to defend services and jobs will have to build from below in the unions and in the communities. This is the only road in which to construct a defence and a fight back.
We support all class struggle community organisations that have emerged in many areas over recent years such as the anti-cuts groups, those fighting for disabled people’s rights, against the bedroom tax and benefit cuts, and anti-fracking campaigns.
Old Swan Against the Cuts stands a class struggle candidate
In order to participate in the local elections it was necessary that Old Swan Against the Cuts (OSAC) needed to become a political party. It was unanimously agreed therefore in one of the regular meetings (held two-weekly) to form a legal party in order to stand in the upcoming local elections on 22 May. It was understood the election campaign would be a continuation of OSAC work over the last year – fighting all cuts, discrimination and attacks on class rights. Martin Ralph was unanimously agreed as the candidate.
An election is a very important opportunity to explain to workers and people what type of struggle and leadership is necessary to fight capitalism and help build the class struggle during the campaign. The International Socialist League, whose members helped develop OSAC, have stood under the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition umbrella, with reservations, in the past. The majority of the OSAC group however did not know of TUSC and had no desire to join it.
So a legal political party was created in order to stand under the name of OSAC. There are 23 members, which is growing a little each week, with 50 supporters. OSAC’s work has won respect and support from union branches and Liverpool Against the Cuts. The valuable support received from all these organisations and its members means that OSAC now has sufficient resources to participate in the local election.
TUSC is controlled by a national committee of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party and Independent Socialist Network and they have the right to veto other organisations that want to join the committee. The ISL does not think this a good method for building a workers, democratic and socialist alternative to the Labour party.
In this election TUSC are hoping to stand 625 candidates in order to contest 15 per cent of the total seats, which would entitle their main candidates to a TV election broadcast. This means that paper candidates are being stood, that is candidates who have no history of class struggle work and are not known in the area. This has been common practice of TUSC which the ISL opposes.
Build OSAC and grass roots struggle
Locally OSAC has built a reputation of being a consistent and fighting organisation. 1000s of leaflets are regularly distributed in the area with information about the cuts, people’s rights, and the fight back. The only opposition has come from people like the local Labour councillor Peter Brenner, who aggressively argued against the anti-cuts campaign. He has been adamant that the local library will stay open, even though there are already massive cuts to the opening hours. Despite many requests Mr. Brenner has failed to put in writing any reassurance that what remains of the library service will stay.
OSAC stands for public services and accountability, and opposes all forms of oppression against women, disabled people, Black and Ethnic minorities, and young people.
“Many of us have woken up to the fact we have a supine media who push the government’s agenda by disgracefully scape-goating benefit claimants and immigrants to cover a crisis that has been created by the greed and corruption of those at the top. Disabled people, the unemployed, immigrants, the youth and low paid workers are not responsible for this crisis.
“Old Swan, like many working class areas in the country suffers from cut backs: there is now a part-time library, we have a youth club that struggles to stay open because its council funding was completely cut and there are even people who are forced to beg at food banks.
“In 2014 and beyond we are going to see Liverpool City Council implementing more cuts to statutory and non-statutory services. Which means things will only get worse. Old Swan Against the Cuts is part of a growing national opposition to these plans. We work with Liverpool Against the Cuts and Liverpool TUC and we are calling on unions and communities to fight the devastation that is happening to our communities.”