Recent Riots – What we think they Reveal about Waltham Forest and our Society (18 August 2011)

This is a short communication from the branch office regarding the riots that have taken place recently and what we think they reveal about Waltham Forest and our society.

There is huge sympathy for those who have lost homes, cars and small businesses; some of whom are UNISON members. We do not agree with the violence and particularly mindless acts of violence perpetrated against ordinary people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

However we do not feel that these riots came from nowhere and we want to make it clear that it is trade unionists and community activists who have been warning that the cuts that have been passed down from central government and  administered by local politicians would fuel an atmosphere of despair and alienation.

UNISON can be proud that we  resisted  the various “phases” of the cuts. We have argued for more funding which would promote a more harmonious and collaborative community where everyone feels that they will be treated fairly and have ample opportunity to develop.

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
In the first wave of cuts that passed through the council last autumn it was particularly evident that it was children and young people who were being disproportionately affected by the £63 million package being passed down to communities such as this one. UNISON  along with anti-cuts activists organised days of action in the market square and a specific local demonstration for children and young people in the area.

This is some of what our children and young people have lost:

  • Educational Psychology cut from 12 to 4
  • Education Welfare – cut from 19 to 5
  • Behavioural support- completely wiped out from 5 to 0
  • Employment and training from 5.5 to 4
  • Careers advice from 14.2 to 8.5
  • Youth Offending Team 24 workers reduced to 12
  • Connexions- youth service 53 FTE posts reduced to 13.

LEADERS WHO ARE NEVER ACCOUNTABLE
The local Guardian have reported that the Director  and Deputy of Children and Young Peoples Services, who were in post whilst these cuts were going through, have now left the authority after a damning OFSTED inspection. We believe that this process whereby people at the top are given huge salaries to push through cuts and then leave for “greener pastures” must stop.  It is wrong that not one of  this current crop of Labour councillors have voted against cuts and it is wrong that they take combined salaries of over £1 million. It is wrong that they are still giving £3 million to consultants to force through cuts whilst taking £1 million from services such as Libraries.

TRADE UNIONISTS STAND UNITED

We are now up to Phase 14 of cuts, including an attack on our Terms and Conditions.  Some members have e-mailed the UNISON office to state that they will lose up to £5,000- £7,000 a year if this new contract goes through.  We have held mass meetings and a consultative ballot. Management have taken some proposals off the table but once again, the poorest, lowest paid members are still in the front line to lose out. UNISON does not intend to leave any member behind, we want a united campaign against all cuts. We will do as we have always done which is struggle to stop our members losing their jobs or losing money and struggling to prevent our community losing its services.

Come to our meetings-

Unity is Strength.

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