Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Save Our Services wins first victory

By a UNISON and SOS activist

About twenty people attended the second Lambeth Save our Services planning meeting on 5 August - not bad considering it's the dead of summer.

The meeting started with good news. After the brilliant campaign led up by the UNISON members in One O'Clock clubs all of the jobs in Adventure Playgrounds and One O'Clock Clubs have been saved. (The council was sacking them and creating new jobs because, even though it saved no money, it could break up the union and prepare the way for future cuts.) As one of the women said at the meeting: "We've got 100% union density - we know they'll be back for us". Nonetheless a good start to the SOS campaign - and evidence, if more was needed, that struggle can win.

We agreed at the meeting:

• To lobby the next full council meeting and demand the right to speak. There was about a hundred people at the last lobby and it made it into the South London Press.
• To produce a regular bulletin.
• To hold weekend and lunchtime stalls.
• To arrange weekends where we go out on mass and go door to door on the bigger council estates trying to get people involved in the campaign.
• To hold a public meeting on 29 September.
• To consider the tactic of occupations.
• To write something about New Labour's "cooperative council" and what it really means.
• To organise a petition along along the lines of Labour councils off you knees (Labour councils should refuse to implement cuts).
• Get effected workers to local Labour Party meetings to argue against implementing the cuts.
• Join up with campaigns in other boroughs, especially those with Labour Councils.

Councillor Kingsley Abrams attended and talked about the need to realise that the campaign will have to take on Steve Reed and his concern that deals will be done between the unions and the Labour council which could undermine SOS. He's a councillor who was recently thrown out of the Labour Group, after a bizarre sting operation, arranged by the leader of the council and the chief exec, in which he leaked information to Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey.

Ted Knight echoed the point that we would have to fight the Labour Councillors as well as giving an inspiring and slightly fictitious account of his time in as Leader of Lambeth (since he did, in fact, cave in and make cuts).

At the first meeting we set the overarching principles of the campaign as "Fight Every Job Cut and Every Service Cut. Make Labour Councils Fight Cuts Don't Re-brand Them".

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