By Alec Thraves
Swansea’s Labour controlled council have passed a £28 million cuts budget for 2018/19 as well as voting through projected cuts of a further £70 million over the next three years.
During the 10 minute session allowed for public questions Socialist Party members highlighted that these medium term financial plans included some departments having their budgets cut by 50% with Adult Social Care cut by 20%, Child & Families and Education cut by 15%!
Colin John, a veteran trade unionist and Socialist Party member, castigated the Labour councillors for being responsible for sacking teachers, bringing in charges for day centres and attacking the elderly of Swansea.
Swansea Socialist Party members along with the Trades Council, Swansea Unison, education and other trade union members lobbied the council beforehand with many Labour councillors sneaking in through the side entrances to avoid the protest.
A Swansea County Unison branch rep at the protest demanded that the council implement Unison, Unite, GMB and Wales TUC policy to refuse to make any cuts and set a legal ‘no cuts budget’. As in previous years, this demand fell on deaf ears with every Labour councillor voting to implement savage Tory cuts once more.
With the prospect of every part of our council services facing devastating cuts and outsourcing over the next few years this is only the beginning of resistance by unions and residents against the Tory austerity big-butchers in Westminster and their obedient mini-butchers on Swansea Labour council. As Arnie once said ‘We will be back’!
Text of the Socialist Party leaflet given to Swansea councillors:
Another year, another round of council cuts – £28 million of cuts in our 2018/19 council budget and a 4.9% increase in council tax, with jobs and services threatened to be axed. These cuts will stretch across education, social services, parks, sports facilities, culture, in fact every council service you can think of is facing a barrage of cuts handed down from the Tories in Westminster, passed on by the Welsh-led Labour government and obediently implemented by Swansea’s Labour controlled council.
The Tories are determined to protect their billionaire banker friends by making us pay for the huge debt caused by these financial speculators.
Council jobs and services have been slashed over the past several years and there is no end in sight with the prospect of another £85 million cuts projected for Swansea over the next three years on top of £80 million cuts already made in recent years!
Local government has been particularly hard hit with Tory ‘big butcher’ cuts being passed down to the ‘mini butchers’ in the council chambers to carry out their wishes!
Unfortunately many of these ‘mini butchers’ are Labour councillors who have refused to stand up and fightback against the Tories, preferring instead to meekly do as they are told by this weak and divided Tory government.
In Swansea the cuts will mean families and friends being told to take almost full responsibility for the care of our elderly and vulnerable because social services are running out of money.
Education cuts will mean more teacher and teacher assistants’ sacked, with unmanageable class sizes and unacceptable pressures on the staff that remain.
If we want to retain leisure services in Swansea, Labour councillors will tell us to run them ourselves or see them closed down or privatised.
If we want our parks kept open and maintained then get our lawnmowers and trowels out because there will be no council gardeners or maintenance staff employed – the same with football pitches, bowling greens and other sports facilities.
Labour’s answer in Swansea is not to fight back against Tory austerity but to claim they are being forced to make the Tory cuts. Nonsense!
Why is Labour just allowing the Tories to get away with it? Instead of raising the white flag of surrender Labour councils should use up their reserves, utilise their borrowing powers and set a legal ‘no cuts’ budget in order to get the time to build a mass campaign to take on the Tory government. That is the message Swansea Socialist Party has been taking to Swansea’s Labour councillors and is the position of the local govt. unions, Unison, Unite, GMB & the Wales TUC.
Join us in the fight to save our services!