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New Cross Library Occupation

At 5 pm on Sat 5th feb, a group of about 30-50 local people, including members of SolFed and other local anarchists, occupied New Cross library. Initially this had been part of a national ‘read in’, supporting threatened libraries across the country, but developed into an occupation as participants decided to stay.

As the only occupation out of 450 read-ins, New Cross got a good amount of press. This was more or less the aim; getting publicity for the libraries campaign and keeping up the momentum of the anti-cuts movement in general.  As one optimistic campaigner, James Holland, put it; “I think with this occupation we are going to take the libraries campaign – and the anti-cuts campaign in general – to a whole new level.”

Lewisham council lobby

On the 29th November, Lewisham held its full council meeting to agree its first tranche of cuts, involving over 400 job losses, cuts to services and the closure of a children's centre. Not yet agreed were proposals to close five libraries.

Pay sell-out

While the fire-fighters seem to be leading a second “Winter of Discontent”, echoing 1978-79, July's media fad of a “Summer of Discontent” didn't happen. Although the Government's policy of not paying Local Government workers decent wages initially appeared to have finally provoked a coordinated response, Labour can still rely on some unions to control their members for the good of the Party.

Have your say: Single Status

Dear DA,

As if the credit crunch wasn’t bad enough, many of us employed in local authorities are now also reeling from the effects of “Single Status” implementation.

The 1997 Single Status agreement between employers and public service unions called for a pay and grading review of all local government posts. Many were conned into believing it would give a fairer pay structure within and across local councils. Indeed, at the time, the union bosses told us that “many will gain and nobody will lose”.

When equality means cuts

In 1997, councils across Britain came to an agreement with unions to undertake ‘Single Status’ job evaluations to end the discrepancies between manual and white collar jobs. Parallel to this, claims made about the historic pay discrepancies between traditionally male and traditionally female jobs were won at various Employment Tribunals. Historically, workers in female dominated jobs (such as those working around childcare) have been paid significantly less than those in jobs usually seen as ‘men’s work’, such as refuse collection.

Since the Equal Pay Act in 1970 these pay discrepancies had been open to legal challenge, but Single Status was supposed to be an across the board solution that would see every job within the councils evaluated and regarded equally based on the content of the job. In theory, this was of course a good thing.

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Solidarity Federation