Socialist Worker

Protests on budget day

Published Tue 22 Jun 2010
Issue No. 2207

Pickets at St Aloysius school

Pickets at St Aloysius school


Sheffield

Many of the speakers at the Sheffield rally of more than 400 people were bitter about the loss of the £80 million loan for Sheffield Forgemasters and directed their anger towards city MP and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as well as the city’s Lib Dem council.

One speaker said, “If I had a hat I would pass it round for 30 pieces of silver for Mr Clegg.”

All the speakers were angry at the Con-Dem budget’s attacks on working people and anyone who spoke about a united fightback got the biggest response.

Chair of Sheffield District Labour Party Paul Woods said, “The government has no credibility, no majority whatsoever. They’ve told lies. We have to decide that we have actually got to join together.

“Everybody from the left of the political spectrum has to join to fight this. We have to work as one to deal with what is going on in this council.

“The council leader (Lib Dem Paul Scriven) has told lie upon lie. He was speaking on the Politics Show at the weekend about Forgemasters, saying it was a quick decision —it took three years to get that £80 million loan. He knew about that and it’s lies after lies after lies.”

He also read out messages of support from Sheffield Labour MPs.

Peter Davies of the GMB said that “£6.1 million of cuts in what’s left of the budget” at Sheffield City Council meant services were already under massive pressure. “They’ve cut £240,000 off the supporting people admin budget. This means people who dish out community funding to the most vulnerable organisations.”

Martin Mayer, national executive member of Unite and secretary of the Sheffield bus workers’ branch of the union, said he feared that the cuts would mean the loss of jobs and manufacturing stimulus.

He added, “Many public sector workers are dreading what’s going to happen to their pensions. They didn’t cause this crisis, they’re being made to pay for it. In the Depression of the 1920s, a crisis became catastrophe. We are heading back in the same direction with this reactionary and very stupid government.”

He continued: “The Labour Party let us down; we were disappointed with it. We have to fight back against it politically. We’re trying to have a resurgence in South Yorkshire with the Labour Representation Committee.

“We’re bringing back the principles of the People’s Charter. We want decent housing, a proper welfare state and public spending.”

In the crowd watching were a group of probation officers with an SY (South Yorkshire) NAPO Against the Cuts banner. One said, “We can see the budget is hitting public services, the welfare state and infrastructure that we need. For us as an organisation we’re going to lose jobs.

“Looking to next year, as an ordinary working person, how are you going to survive? People are already struggling on the lowest incomes.

“I think we should all fight back, whichever section of society you’re from. Mainly we should be looking after each other as a society but that’s not the way we’re going. We have to fight against it.”

Primary school student Riona Shergold was holding a Firs Hill Save Our Schools! banner. She said she was at the demo because “we need to stop the Tories cutting our schools and education.

“I think they are going to shut schools down and I don’t want that to happen. I think they’re turning quite a lot of secondary schools to free schools and academies. I don’t want it to happen to primary schools as well. I don’t really think it would be fair. Free schools don’t pay teachers properly.

Sheffield NUT membership secretary and city trades council executive member Ben Morris got massive applause when he said: “The lesson we need to push out is that if all these groups fight their own battles separately we can be beaten. If we fight together we can beat this weak and nasty government.

“We need to take inspiration from Greece and Spain. We’ve got the weather here now, we need the fight to come here soon.”

He also hit out at the idea of “boutique schools for the middle classes” taking funding away from state schools and welcomed his union’s decision to sanction action including strike action to fight attacks on teachers’ pensions.

Phil Turner spoke for the Right to Work campaign and also referred to the fight in Greece, saying: “That’s the way we’re going to build the fightback. We want occupations, we want general strikes, we want protests. If the union leaders in Greece and France can lead general strikes, why can’t our union leaders?”

He said that Tory minister Michael Gove was due in Sheffield on Thursday and called for people to protest.

Steve Ludlam, branch secretary of Sheffield University UCU branch said: “The UCU has calculated that raising corporation tax to the G7 average now could have abolished tuition fees.”

“It’s a class budget.”

John Gilliver, brigade secretary for the FBU in South Yorkshire, said fire crews, who took action in South Yorkshire last year, would look seriously at joining in any action to oppose public sector cuts.

Julia Armstrong


Strike at St Aloysius school in Islington

Teachers at St Aloysius school in Islington, north London, were on strike this morning to demand safe working conditions while Balfour Beatty is refurbishing the school at a cost of £17 million.

National Union of Teachers (NUT) rep, Denis Doherty said, 'We are striking because we were promised a school fit for the 21st Century. Instead, we've got a shambles because contractors' profits are put before pupils'.

Last night St Aloysius NUT arranged a packed public meeting for parents. One parent, said: 'I send my son to school to be educated not electrocuted.'

Another spoke about having to give up work to fight for the school to be made safe for her visually impaired son. There were no yellow strips on staircases or on transparent windows and glass panels so that here son could avoid dangerous accidents. But the contractors weren't interested.

Ken Muller


Health and Safety Executive

Workers at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) staged a budget day protest outside HSE's London office. Prospect's assistant general secretary, Dai Hudd, praised the 30 PCS and Prospect members on the protest and said, 'We're going to need a lot more of this.'

HSE staff face the real possibility that the third year of a three year pay deal will be reneged on. 'We demand that our unions call serious and sustained action in defence of our pay, pensions and jobs', commented Simon Hester, the London office Prospect rep for HSE's inspectors.


Portsmouth

Around 150 people joined the lunchtime protest in Portsmouth, which had been called by the trades council. The Unison and UCU union branches, the Labour Party, the Right to Work campaign and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition supported the event.

The Labour Party brought along their banner. Refugees, pensioners, students joined together with members of the Unite, CWU and RMT unions, as well as other public sector workers.

We set the agenda with our slogans against workers paying for the crisis.

After a rally, we marched to the library in Guildhall Square, which is facing cuts. Speakers highlighted the upcoming protest against the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on 3 October.

John Molyneux


Bolton

Over 150 joined the Bolton protest against the cuts at lunchtime.

“This is the beginning of the fightback,” Martin Chandler, secretary of Bolton Trades Union Council, told Socialist Worker.

“We’ve had a good response from workers and members of the public.”

Protesters carried red cards with the slogan “give cuts the red card” which people are being encouraged to put up in their workplaces, community centres and home windows.

Members of the CWU, NASWUT, NUT, GMB, Unison, PCS and UCU trade unions joined the protest as well as activists from a variety of campaigns including the Shrewsbury Pickets, Right to Work, Unite Against Fascism and Stop the War.

Messages of support were read out from Bolton’s two Labour MPs and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.


Telford

Forty trade unionists attended a lunchtime rally, which had been called by trades council.

These were mostly workers from Telford & Wrekin council, the civil service, the Ministry of Defence and Fujitsu.

The platform speakers were trades council president Brett Davis, HMRC PCS branch secretary Mike Veric, and Keith Austin, Labour councillor and former leader of Telford & Wrekin council.

There were calls for larger local demonstrations and unity between public and private sector unions. Labour councillors pledged support for such activities.

David Smith


Dundee

Well over 100 people took part in our demonstration. Speakers included firefighters' FBU union regional organiser Jim Malone and Mike Arnott of Dundee trades council. There were also speakers from the Unite, Unison, UCU and PCS unions, and the Dundee Pensioners Forum, the People's Charter, unemployed workers' representative and Right to Work.

Euan Dargie


Luton

Around 30 people gathered on the town steps in Luton today to protest against the cuts announced by George Obsbourne.

Speakers from many trade unions, including Unite, PCS, NUT and the local trades council addressed the demo, organised by the Right to Work Campaign.

The protest was covered by BBC Three Counties radio.


Ealing

Around 50 people gathered outside Ealing the town hall at lunchtime for an anti cuts protest called by the local Unison union branch.

Members of Ealing NUT union joined the protest and the leader of the council, Julian Bell, and Labour councillors came and gave their support.

The protest outside the HSE

The protest outside the HSE



Article information

News
Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:40 BST
Issue No. 2207
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