Support the Pension strikes in France

Motion agreed at our branch committee on 21 January 2020 

This branch notes:

The fourth national day of strikes and demonstrations across France on 9th January saw massive action against French president Emmanuel Macron’s attacks on pensions. According to union figures, 370,000 people marched in Paris—up by 20,000 from the last day of national action on 17 December. Elsewhere 120,000 took to the streets in Toulouse, 35,000 in the port city of Le Havre, 30,000 in Rouen, 27,000 in Lyon and 25,000 in Grenoble. In Marseille 220,000 people took part, an increase from the 150,000 on 5 and 10 December and 200,000 on 17 December.

Those marching across France included striking rail and public transport workers, refinery, hospital and civil service workers, dockers, teachers, firefighters, barristers, Yellow Vests and more.

Across the country about half of teachers were out on strike, 60 percent in Paris. Over two-thirds of train drivers and nearly 60 percent of train controllers struck according to management figures. Only a skeleton service—staffed by managers and a few scabs—ran on the Paris Metro. All eight oil refineries in France started a four-day strike from 12 noon on Tuesday 7th January. The CGT union reported that this halted the movement of fuel by tanker or pipeline completely.

The government still wants £10.2 billion cuts in pension spending and a system that will mean most people working longer and get less.

 

This branch believes:

  • The strikers are correct to reject Macron’s partial climb-down (which will still leave most people worse off)
  • There is a danger that the union leaders will allow the strikers to be isolated.
  • That in the UK it is our duty to show solidarity and to raise awareness of the strikes through our unions, despite the near total news blackout.


This branch supports:

  • The call for a general strike in France to secure full victory
  • ‘Twinning’ with our sister union in France to update our members on what is happening and to develop solidarity between French and British workers
  • A donation to the Strike fund of £50

Policy – save our Libraries

 

This branch notes that:

  1. Two years ago the public accounts committee cautioned that local authorities would soon struggle to deliver statutory services or even stay afloat at all, it was a prescient warning. In the last Public spending round, the Tory government pushed through further cuts in the public sector of £6.1 billion. The overall budget of many authorities has already fallen by as much as a third and Local government grants in England are set to be cut by 56% in the next five years. Lambeth Council have announced that they want to make 1,000 staff redundant over the next two years. We now have to fight to defend the very existence of local government.
  2. In April 2015 the Council circulated a public consultation document (Culture 2020) which recommended cuts across Libraries and Parks. On Monday 12th October, contrary to the desires expressed in the consultation to keep libraries open, Lambeth Cabinet passed a report which will:
  • Hand over three of Lambeth’s Libraries to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to turn into gyms. These are big public assets which are being given away to GLL on 25 year ‘peppercorn’ rents.
  • Sell off Waterloo Library and hand Upper Norwood Library to a trust to run the building with no staff
  • Cut another 25% of the staff.
  1. Unison and the Save Lambeth Libraries campaign have organised supporters to oppose the Council’s plans and have lobbied and demonstrated at levels unseen in recent years.
  2. The Friends of Lambeth Libraries have taken legal action to take the Council to court under Judicial Review on the basis of their failure to consult properly and their failure to provide their statutory obligations under the Public Library Act 1964.
  3. UNISON members in Libraries have taken one day unofficial strike action to defend their service and have balloted to take official industrial action from the New Year.

 

We believe that:

  1. The ideology of ‘Austerity’, which means the transfer of wealth from those in need to those with greed, is not inevitable but a political choice of the current Tory government. Residents in Lambeth have rejected the idea that the local Labour Council should pass the Tory cuts onto the people of Lambeth.
  2. We need to build the fight by communities and union members against the Council’s austerity cuts.
  3. Closing half the borough’s libraries is a short-sighted and irresponsible plan; public libraries are an essential part of a functioning literate nation.

We resolve to:

  • Support members in Libraries and Archives in any action they decide to take, including industrial action, to fight back against the Councils cuts/closure plans
  • Support legal action by the Friends of Lambeth Libraries over the Councils failure to consult appropriately and no longer provide its statutory duty to Lambeth citizens.
  • Encourage members to contact their local Councillor and local MPs
  • Encourage members to sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lambeth-save-lambeth-libraries.
  • Raise within the union the call for London-wide and nation-wide action, including demonstrations, publicity and industrial action, to stop the massacre of national Library services currently underway.

Proposed: Tim O’Dell Seconded: Ruth Cashman

This motion was unanimously agreed by an aggregate vote of 110 votes for