Thursday, 3 March 2011

Protests & Cuts in Rochdale

ON 23rd, February, protesters were outside the Gothic style Town Hall in Rochdale as the Labour Council prepared to make £64 million in cuts: children's services cut by £7m a year, voluntary & community sector by £3.6m, vulnerable people & adult care by £6m, teen training by £1m and a plan of cutting the number of councillors by a third and holding elections every 4 years. School uniform grants to go and £25 to be charged to people for replacement waste bins. Touchstones Museum to close for 11.5 hours a week. There will be a review of the amount of cash to be given to trade unions from the Council under trade union facilities agreement.

This last is controversial in so far as it has been used in the past by Councils to neuter the trade unions by threatening to withdraw the trade union facilities agreement. The TU facilities cost in the case of Rochdale is £107,000 a year. It can lead to a cosy relationship between the unions and the employer to the cost of the union membership. In his book 'School for Dictators', the Italian novelist, Ignazio Silone argued that free trade unions are essential to a free society, but if a trade union gets grants from a local authority can it still be 'free'? It could be that in those circumstances the union official becomes as the sociologist, C. Wright Mills said: 'The manager of discontent'.

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