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From: The Socialist issue 1123, 3 March 2021: Not a budget for the working class!

Search site for keywords: London - Workers - Bus - Socialist - TUSC - RMT - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Why we need socialists in London city hall

Socialists campaigning in Enfield, London. Photo: Enfield TUSC

Socialists campaigning in Enfield, London. Photo: Enfield TUSC   (Click to enlarge)

Max Bacharach, Hackney Socialist Party

London was put into 'major incident' status on 8 January, with Covid-19 infection rates and hospital admissions soaring. Frontline workers have consistently paid the price. 57 Transport for London (TfL) staff, mostly bus drivers keeping the city moving, have lost their lives so far. They have had to fight for basic safety for a year and some, including Socialist Party members, have been suspended as a result.

A recent RMT survey found 60% of bus workers thought their employers, the private contractors who run London's 700 bus routes, "had taken no additional steps to protect staff safety since the emergence of the more infectious strain of Covid-19".

This is a shocking stain on Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also chair of TfL. We all remember him making the most of his dad being an ex-bus driver when running for office - but where's his love for workers now? In October, deep into the corona crisis, Khan agreed a government 'support' package of violent cuts to TfL services and staff pensions.

And now Khan announces plans to hike Londoners' council tax by a whopping 100 a year. This is in a city of millionaires and billionaires, who Khan has openly courted. How exactly are workers and families, facing wage cuts, furlough and mass redundancies, supposed to find the cash?

With Khan firmly in the pocket of big business, there is the urgent need for working-class political representation in London. The Socialist Party is preparing to stand as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the Greater London Assembly elections in May.

It is an opportunity to challenge the Tories, Labour cutters and the capitalists they serve, at a time of intense class anger. London bus drivers represented by Unite are striking over cuts and conditions, and more industrial action will surely follow (see 'Bus workers under attack and fighting back'). TUSC supports these and all strikes in the interests of workers' lives and livelihoods.

The Socialist Party is calling for a campaign to get socialists into city hall. We are appealing to all workers in struggle, the trade unions and other community activists to join our campaign. To stand as candidates, and to help raise the 20,000 needed to stand for London mayor. The fightback begins here.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 3 March 2021

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