Workers are told that the recession is easing and things are getting better, but still hardly a week goes by without job cuts.
It is against this backdrop that the Right to Work conference will take place.
Groups of workers from across the country are attending, as well as students, anti-privatisation campaigners and others.
Corus steel workers will be among those travelling to the conference in Manchester to build solidarity and resistance.
The company last week announced that it was effectively shutting its Redcar plant with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
“The politicians have given billions to the banking industry but what have they done for us? Nothing.” Those were the words of Michael Shepherd, a maintenance worker at the Corus steel plant in Redcar last Friday upon hearing the news.
Another steel worker pointed out, “If we were as poor at making steel as they are at managing, we would have closed long ago.”
Teesside is one of Britain’s unemployment black spots. The closure of the Corus plant will deal it a devastating blow.
The latest unemployment figures show that the number of people out of work has increased across the area by 38 percent in the past year – 18 people are chasing every job vacancy across the region.
Local people are looking to the Unite union, which organised a jobs march in Redcar in the summer, to organise resistance to the plant’s closure.
Almost two million Britons have accepted pay cuts or reduced hours to stave off unemployment,
Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron are committed to cutting public spending while extra tax rises are in the pipeline.
Cuts are already a reality in higher education and activists see the Right to Work conference as one of the places to discuss resistance to them.
Nick from Dundee university said, “University management want to push through £10 million in cuts, threatening 200 jobs.
“We’ve set up an anti-cuts campaign involving students and lecturers and we’ll be joining in the discussion at the conference about co-ordinating resistance.
“This conference has got to be as broad as possible,” Nick added, “We’ll be bringing people from our post support group, which organised solidarity during the recent dispute.”
In south Manchester one school student has already signed up four of his teachers. The Manchester for Jobs and Education group is supporting the conference and is sending five people to it.
The Ipswich branch of the CWU post workers’ union has donated £50 towards the conference costs.
Unite 16/47 hotel and catering branch in London has backed the conference, as has the Fujitsu combine committee, Islington trades council in north London, and Plymouth trades council, which is sending two delegates and its banner.
Some 300 people have already signed up to attend the conference.
A CONFERENCE OF RESISTANCE AND SOLIDARITY
Saturday 30 January, 11.30am-5pm
Central Hall, Oldham St, Manchester M1 1WT
Go to » www.righttowork.org.uk