Members of the unions Unite and Unison protested outside Barking and Dagenham Civic Centre when the council passed £18 million in cuts just before Christmas, many of which will hit frontline services. More than 200 jobs are to go, after the council has already shed 600 jobs.
The council says it will decide where the axe will fall in February, yet it seems that many proposed cuts have already been fleshed out and action is needed now. Staff are very angry.
One council worker told Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts that while senior management such as divisional directors are virtually untouched: “Children’s centres are going to be cut from 24 down to six”. Two years of proposed cuts in youth services add up to £600,000. “These cuts will decimate the services”.
Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts, which is convened by rebel councillor George Barratt, is calling on the trade unions to discuss some form of coordinated action with their members. Given a firm lead and bold plans of action together with workplace meetings, we feel workers will respond.
The council is a Labour Party oligarchy. George is the only councillor to vote against all cuts in the council, and was unceremoniously expelled from the Labour Party when he refused to vote for the cuts budget last year.
Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts is concerned that with Labour councillors planning cuts in services through to 2014, there is a danger that the far right in some guise or other will try to make gains by leaning on the growing opposition to the cuts.