Posts Tagged ‘Lambeth London Borough Council’

Last night the Lambeth scrutiny committee met in the town hall, along with a rowdy crowd of protestors, to discuss the decision to privatise the call centre in Lambeth to Capita. The 10 year, 10 million deal includes up to a hundred redundancies for the existing well trained staff, unless of course they want to continue the work in the “pretty waterfront” town of Southampton where the deal is being outsourced to.

The deal was “called-in” for scrutiny by Labour’s Vassel ward councillor Kingsley Abrams, the only councillor to raise any opposition to the February budget. The big issues are:

  • Staff have never had a genuine chance to even prepare a bid from inside the council to compete with “the market”. The opaque “consultation” has never given staff the opportunity to match Capita’s 16% saving proposal. Gung-ho privatisation at its worst from a Labour council. Local knowledge is vital to the quality of the service – hard to do from Southampton.
  • The Equality Impact Assessment has some glaringly obvious mistakes and bad references in it and is shoddy at best. The impact on black and minority ethnic workers will be obviously dis-proportionate and the “mitigating factors” in the proposal lack anywhere near enough concrete details.
  • The decision clearly goes against the council’s priority of reducing worklessness in the borough.

Even though the discussion in the meeting showed promise, and big issues with the proposal were identified, cowardly councillors refused to refer the issue back to the Cabinet. An awful decision in our opinion.

We best thing to take from the meeting is the lesson from the Libraries dispute– when the council let you down (and they will) you have to join a union, build a campaign and stand together to defend vital local jobs and services. (more…)

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The Save Libraries protest outside Brixton Library, Feb 2011

Strike action planned to close all Lambeth Council’s libraries on Friday 22 July will not now be going ahead as the council management conceded that there will be no compulsory redundancies in an offer put to the union today.

The latest management offer will be put to all UNISON members in Libraries at a joint shop meeting on Monday. No deal can be made before it is discussed and agreed by members in Libraries and you can not rule out industrial action to protect the service, but management’s offer represents a significant victory as it protects both jobs and many frontline services.

This is a tribute to the unity and determination of trade union members in the libraries, who were ready to strike to defend the library service and protect their jobs. This is a lesson to every other worker – in Lambeth Council and elsewhere – that to look after your interests you have to be prepared to take industrial action.

John McDonnell
Stuart King reports on the May 21 Lambeth Peoples Assembly (with thanks to information from World to Win reporters)

Over 130 people came on a hot spring day to the first formal meeting of the Lambeth Peoples Assembly held in the Town Hall. As Ruth Cashman the first speaker pointed out, the first assembly had taken place when we occupied the council chamber in Lambeth the night they passed the cuts budget.

On the day a wide range of trade unionists and people from local organisations, including disability campaigners, librarians, pensioners, transport and health workers, students and lecturers gathered to establish the Assembly as a focal point for the struggle against the cuts.

Ruth Cashman, a Librarian and Unison member, explained the series of vicious cuts being pushed through by Lambeth, resulting in park rangers being sacked, crucial Library staff being made redundant and school crossing patrols cut, putting children’s lives at risk. Hundreds of redundancies were being pushed through across the council at a time of growing unemployment.

Speaker from UNITE
Starting a theme that ran throughout the day Ruth said that the Labour councillors were carrying out the coalitions dirty work and trying to blame the Tories for the fact that they were too cowardly to stand up and fight with their own communities.

John McDonnell, MP told the Assembly: 
“There has been nothing resembling the current cuts since the 1930s, a time when recession turned into a full-blown Depression. Then people said, ‘Never Again’ and hence the welfare state was set up, but now this is being axed.”

He noted that Britain was one of the richest countries in the world, and yet in his own constituency some people forced off disability benefits, often by simply making a mistake on a form, were now having to rely on food packages to survive.

“It is important to share and compare experiences and decide on what actions to take,” he said. “It is crucial to visualise the kind of society that we aspire to.” He called for a build-up of actions to bring down the government.

Kingsley Abrams
Lambeth councillor Kingsley Abrams was cheered as the only Labour councillor in Lambeth not to vote for the cuts. As punishment, the Labour Party had suspended him for six months, now seemly reduced to three due to pressure from the new national leadership of UNITE.

Sarah Tomlinson of the Lambeth National Union of Teachers explained how changes to teachers pensions meant paying much more in, while working longer, into your late sixties. She also reported on a struggle against a planned local “free school” backed by Tory education minister Michael Gove, which would take more resources from Lambeth’s underfunded secondary schools.

Arwen, RMTRMT member and train driver Arwyn Jones, from Morden depot, spoke of his victimisation and summary dismissal after a strike on the Northern Line Underground. While the threat of strike action had led to the re-instatement of a sacked colleague, London transport had reneged on a promise on his case and now the RMT was balloting again for strike action.

London Metropolitan University

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Lambeth peoples assembly is Saturday 21st may, assembly rooms, lambeth town hall

Saturday 21st May | 12pm – 4pm | Assembly Hall, Acre Lane, London SW2

Lambeth Save Our Services has called a People’s Assembly as part of the campaign to fight the cuts to services in Lambeth.

Our libraries, children’s playgrounds, schools, NHS services, elderly peoples’ provision are all under threat of the axe. Local people are fighting back.

The Lambeth People’s Assembly will be both a festival of resistance and an organising centre to exchange experience and plan for action.

The event will take place from 12-4pm at the Lambeth Town Hall. Join us! and spread the word! Please let us know you’re coming via facebook. You can also download a poster for the event.

Update: Provisional Agenda

1. Intro (start time 12.00 noon)
The Cuts: where we are nationally and locally (1 hour). Short introduction then open floor

2. Stand-up anti cuts routine (start time 1.15pm)
(to be confirmed) (20 mins)

3. Workshops (start time 1.45. pm) provisionally six proposed (45 minutes)
1. Education
2. Housing
3. Disability and other benefit cuts
4. Health
5. Pensioners
6. Libraries/recreation/Youth services

4. Music/refreshment break (start time 2.30pm – 30 minutes)

5. Organising the communities (start time 3.00pm)
No platform just short intros from floor on how cuts are effecting particular groups and fighting back: disability groups, women, UK uncut Barac, Smiley Culture.

6. Conclusion and declaration (start time 3.30pm)
John McDonnell, Ted Knight summing up how we take Peoples Assembly forward, short written declaration. (30 minutes end at 4.00pm prompt)

I love my library!Alongside Children’s Services supporters at Wednesday’s council lobby will be the Save Lambeth Libraries campaigners, lobbying the council not to axe Lambert’s Library Staff.

Libraries are undergoing both a consultation on the future of libraries and a staff restructure (why are these not part of same program Lambeth?!) and Lambeth’s library workers and librarians are opposed to the huge cuts proposed by the council – staff cuts, reduced opening hours, de-professionalisation of librarians, possible closures, “community trusts” (cuts with glossy image?) and more.

How can you help? 4 things to do this week!

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Please email your councillors asking them to vote against the cuts on Weds. It’s also worth mentioning that after violent Police intervention against anti cuts groups in Islington and Lewisham Council meetings recently councillors should be called on to refuse to allow police to interrupt otherwise peaceful council meetings. At the last Lambeth Council meeting a large number of Police were sent in – you can read more about it at http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/matthew-hall/police-invasion-of-lambeth-council-meeting-part-of-worrying-trend. Tell your councillor – the police have no place in peaceful local democracy!

You can get your local councillors email address using the councils lookup tool – http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/PCLookup/Lookup.aspx

Done forget to come on Wednesday to the protest!