‘FEEL THE SPIRT’
Council workers in Doncaster are really ‘Feeling the Spirit’ as the town’s Christmas decorations say. But it is the spirit of Scrooge! Unelected axe wielding Chief Executive Rob Vincent says that he is trying to find a balance between wages and Jobs. He proposes to sack a total of 1,500 workers, and then reduce the pay of everyone earning more than £15,000 by 4%. But this fails to take into account Chancellor George Osborne’s budget statement which promises to sack 710,000 public sector workers nationally and impose a 4 year pay freeze while inflation is at over 5%. This means that in real terms council workers in Doncaster will see their earning deteriorate by an astonishing 25% over the next four years. The consequences will be people unable to afford holidays, the mortgage or to run a car. And those jobs will be lost forever if we let them go, massively fuelling youth unemployment.
On top of this Doncaster’s right wing mayor Peter Davies, along with his Westminster boss Eric Pickles, want to further undermine democracy in Doncaster. They want to reduce the allowance paid to councillors by 5%. They say this is to save Doncaster rate payers money. In reality the right have always hated paying working class people for their democratic role and most councillors in Doncaster are Labour; and on top of that it is a gesture to say that ‘we are all in it together’ when they slash workers’ pay. Davies also wants to reduce the number of councillors in Doncaster; again this is to reduce our say over what the council does.
Let’s be clear. Davies and Pickles are not saving us anything at all. Over the years we have invested in Doncaster’s services through our rates and taxes. They are ours by right and we are not going to be fooled into watching this government of millionaires wreck them and then sell them off to their business backers at knock down prices.
AUSTERITY POLICIES WRECKING EUROPE
The evidence is overwhelming. From Athens to Doncaster austerity is wrecking the economy and ripping the heart out of society. The only people that are benefiting are the rich who get incentives, tax breaks and the benefits of privatised public services. In Greece the suicide rate has rocketed. Thousands of schools are shutting and formally well-to-do workers are either emigrating or reduced to begging.
Why doesn’t Rob Vincent come clean and tell us about the consequences of his plans for Doncaster? Doncaster already has a low wage economy. Private companies are not soaking up the numbers being made redundant; in fact many businesses are in the process of closing after the Christmas sales. And no wonder. With record numbers of Doncaster’s young people on the dole – many with degrees and other qualifications – and record numbers of pensioners in fuel poverty, there is unlikely to be a consumer led recovery out of recession.
The Tories have got us into a crazy vicious cycle of bank bailouts, budget deficits, cuts and reduced tax income, leading to inability to pay and then more cuts. But there is an alternative, a virtuous cycle: tax the rich, make the banks and corporations pay, invest in the economy and society we need and begin the process of growth and reconstruction.
THE DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT
Across Europe the rush to austerity policies has led to massive attacks on our rights. The Tories want to cut back on the minimum wage, health and safety, and workers’ right to strike. They want to make it easier for employers to sack people at a time when unemployment is destroying the country!
In Greece and Rome the governments are led by what the World Bank calls ‘technocrats’. The truth is that they are both straight from the boardrooms of Goldman Sachs, and are on a mission to safeguard banking capital by making even more cuts. The criminal has now put on the both the judges robes and the executioner’s mask.
In this country we are facing the same denial of our democratic rights. Nobody voted for the policies being put in by the Con-Dem coalition. Clegg and the Liberals were against swingeing cuts until they got their feet under the Cabinet table. Nowhere could the democratic deficit be seen more clearly than in Doncaster. We, the people of Doncaster, elected a majority of Labour councillors. However, they are denied any control over the Council’s affairs. The main people responsible are Pickles, Davies and Vincent. Sadly the Doncaster Labour Party seems unable to lead any form of opposition to what is going on. Our three Labour MPs have never once held a public meeting on this pressing issue of how the cuts are affecting Doncaster.
DONCASTER COALITION OF RESISTANCE
All over Doncaster people are seething about the issues that are ruining their lives: library closures, loss of benefits and increasing unemployment, rising bills and increasing fuel poverty, to say nothing of watching services and the NHS get slashed and attacked.
The trade unions are having to fight a rearguard action to defend their members, and we support them unconditionally and will work with them at every opportunity. But we need to do more than defend. We need to harness the political anger sweeping across our communities and start the fight back on a scale that will make the Tories and their backers think twice, and ultimately see them fall.
The attack on Doncaster Council’s pay, jobs and services is the biggest Tory offensive since the Miners’ Strike. We need to start a Doncaster wide campaign that links with every group affected by the cuts and that wants to fight them, from pensioners to school students, nurses to librarians. We must organise the biggest anti-cuts demonstration we have yet seen. We need to collect the money to back workers taking strike action and fight all out to defeat this unrepresentative government.