Socialist Worker

Tell Gordon Brown: Troops out of Afghanistan! Stop the jobs massacre!

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2168

New Labour is in crisis and it is responding by increasing attacks on ordinary people—including slashing jobs, attacking public services and freezing pay.

It claims to have no money for ordinary people, yet pours hundreds of billions of pounds into the banks and into bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the attacks are generating bitter anger among wide layers of people who are determined to make sure that the government doesn’t get away with its assault on the working class.

Activists are building for a mass protest at the Labour Party conference on 27 September in Brighton. The protest is supported by the UCU, NUT, NUJ and PCS unions as well as the Stop the War coalition and others. There are many reasons to join it.

A key issue is the destruction of jobs—and the wider impact this has on ordinary people.

Suleiman Abdi is a learning mentor who is currently on all-out strike to save jobs and defend education at Tower Hamlets College in east London. He’ll be part of a 30-strong delegation who have already booked their tickets.

“This government contradicts itself,” he told Socialist Worker. “It says its priorities are ‘education, education, education’ but it’s just words and no action. Education is suffering.

“Tower Hamlets College is a community college. The whole borough depends on Esol English classes. But if the bosses get away with the cuts this borough will end up with no education.

“We have to stick together and fight back. You never know what will happen tomorrow—it could be your job next. United we stand, divided we fall.”

Suffering

Jenny Jones, campaigns and communications officer at Goldsmiths College in south London, says that young people are suffering as a result of cuts to education and rising unemployment.

“New Labour has lied about its priorities,” she told Socialist Worker. “The government brought in top up fees and levels of student debt are rising all the time.

“So many graduates don’t have jobs. This is the first year that I’ve met so many people with degrees who can’t find work and are signing on.”

Abdul Omer, a Unite union convenor at Harrow bus garage in north west London, represents some of the lowest paid drivers in London.

“Low pay means that drivers are forced to work very long hours to make up their pay with overtime,” he told Socialist Worker. “We are bringing a group to join the protest in Brighton.”

Ian Terry used to work at the Vestas wind turbine factory in the Isle of Wight. He occupied the plant along with several other workers after being made redundant in July and is involved in an ongoing campaign to win justice for the workers.

The Vestas workers have already booked one coach from the Isle of Wight and hope to get a second.

“We need a green revolution,” Ian told Socialist Worker.

“But we’ve been made redundant from green jobs. This is a government that will give money to the bankers but not to renewable energy. The hypocrisy is enraging.

“That’s why we will be raging against New Labour on 27 September and I urge everyone to come along.

“We must show that this is not good enough. We will not be made to pay for their crisis.”

Julia Armstrong is a journalist in the NUJ union in Sheffield. “The recession has unleashed a tidal wave of cuts across the media,” she told Socialist Worker. “News services are slashed to the bone resulting in less information on vital issues getting out to the public.

“The NUJ is backing the demonstration at the Labour Party conference as the union wants to protect journalism and the democratic role it plays.

“Journalists should get to Brighton on 27 September and play their part in the fightback.”


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