Friday, October 15, 2010

CONDEM Cuts: Megan tells it as it is

SERTUC Regional Secretary, Megan Dobney (standing on left), addresses the London UNISON Regional Council (sadly inquorate - but we know why).

The usual health warning on the absolute accuracy of my rather hurried typed notes.

Megan - "...there are 3 choices facing us: 1. work for a collapse of the coalition, 2: Defeat the Coalition in a General Election or 3: "armed insurrection" (this was a Joke).

Megan realised that some of the people present would in fact want "armed insurrection".  However she pointed out that this could never happen since it was not TUC policy.  So if you wanted this to be policy you should put in a motion to next year's Trade Union Congress (knowing the limited reasoning skills of some of my readers - I will stress this was also a joke).  Option 1 is her choice: Bringing down the Coalition is more likely and we do not want to wait 5 years.

Megan believes that public services are a bulwark against barbarism.  But we have a problem opposing cuts since according to some surveys - 50% of the public support the idea of CONDEM "savage cuts" including 40% of trade union members! This show's the scale of problem. We have to explain in the teeth of the media basis, what is really going on. Why the government is wrong and cannot deal with the deficit by cutting public sector investment which is essential for growth. Cuts will lead to unfairness and recession. VAT is regressive and any increase in basic tax is so also and will not help those who due to the Bankers recession are at risk.

We should get the tax that is currently avoided and evaded.  The "Robin Hood" tax would bring in lots of money for a very small outlay.  The PCS argue convincingly that 20 thousand more tax officers jobs would bring in £20 billion in tax income.  National finance is not to be paralled with consumer budgets. You saw this last week when the German government finally paid off it war debt, it's debt from World War One! While it took us 60 years to pay off our 2nd World War debt. 

Organisation in our workplace is absolutely essential but not enough - there are 6.5 million trade Unionists but this is not sufficient  We have to work with our communities. we need to stress that public sector cuts are not just job cuts but services cuts as well.

The cancellation of the "Building Schools for the Future" resonated with many people.  They could see the cuts taking place to something they could measure and value. This not just about being a romantic opposition but about good organsiation. 

If a 1pm Club faces closures don’t wait for a demo of 9 workers outside the town hall but get service users, family, friends, shop keepers to come and protest. This is an attack on communities, not just an attack on a group of workers whose jobs might go.

We need to be aware of CSR on 19 October and the SERTUC/TUC plan to target the 150 Tory/Lib Dem MP's who are at most risk at the next General Election.  Some of them might be the most vicious towards the cuts but they are also very fond of their seats! 

Numerous other demos on 23/10/10.  Congress House rally 12-1.45. It has to be a good turnout. Megan does not want to know everyone there personally. This is crucial.

In May 2011 the Tories and Lib Dems must feel the pain.

A Marathon is not a sprint. Who knows what to expect with them at the moment. The Child benefit fury.  They didn’t expect at all the reaction that got and that is important. Also the stresses and strains over tuition. We need to be creating the understanding that allows voices to be heard.

A recentl Yougov polls may have showed that 70% want housing benefit cuts but at the same time - 60% do not want the Post Office privatised. This is an outcome of work done last year by CWU. We must do the same. Local campaigning. Unison is ideal because you have centre in every town. In the recent strikes in France there was wonderful inspiration. In one small town of 5000 - 25% of the population was on rally. In every small town thousands of people protested. This make the government realise that this is not us looking after jobs but defending the rights and needs of our communities. We are not going to win with mass rallys of polemic but by detailed work, organised work and working with communities. Finally, to finish with a chilling moment she reminded us what Cameron said at the recent Tory conference.

“Look what we have done in 5 months imagine what we can do in 5 years”.

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