In every borough, town and city across Britain, people are waking up to the reality of the widespread cuts that will destroy public services, jobs—and people’s lives.
But there is also growing resistance.
On 22 June, Tory chancellor George Osborne will announce his austerity budget. Trade unionists will come together with activists from the Right to Work campaign, health groups, housing campaigns, pensioners and anti-cuts alliances to hold protests across Britain.
John Hughes, a bus worker, is secretary of his Unite trade union branch and a Labour Party activist from Manchester who is backing local protests on 22 June.
He told Socialist Worker, “The Con Dem government is telling us to share the pain, to ‘tighten our belts’.
“But who do they mean? They mean me and you—working people, not their rich Eton club.
“All the small cuts, all the attacks taking place in different sectors, are beginning to join together and suddenly it feels huge.
“Hospitals are being destroyed across Manchester. The new children’s hospital was a good initiative under Labour, but the cuts they are talking about will mean jobs going.
“I work in the transport sector. Money for our tram system is being removed, and renovations to Victoria station are being cut back.
“We are meant to be getting extra carriages on trains as so many commuters stand every day to and from work—that is likely to be cut too.
“And we know even bigger cuts are coming.
“In our workplace we will start discussions soon about our pay claim. We are due a pay rise in September.
“But I know what will happen—we will be told that money is short, that an increase is impossible.
“Inflation is over 5 percent and going up—the bosses think it’s alright giving us tuppence, but things are going up threepence!”
John says these attacks make it even more important for workers and activists to unite to defend jobs and services.
“Sometimes I think we should all just pack up work for a day or two—I mean everyone.
“They do it in countries like France and Greece. It isn’t uncommon there although it seems uncommon to us.
“We also need positive alternatives to their cuts agenda.
“It is clearly a time when we should be investing in recovery and jobs, not making recovery harder.”
And it is not just in Manchester that people will be demonstrating on budget day.
People will be outside their workplaces and in town and city centres across Britain.
In Sheffield, activists are planning lunchtime protests followed by a protest at 5pm outside the town hall.
The Sheffield District Labour Party executive has agreed to support and advertise the demonstration—organised jointly by Right to Work and Sheffield Trades Council.
The demonstration is also supported by the South Yorkshire branches of the CWU, PCS, NUJ and NUT unions, the South Yorkshire Labour Representation Committee, Sheffield TUSC, the SWP and the Sheffield Education Activist Network.
Paul Wood, chair of the Sheffield District Labour Party, told Socialist Worker why he supported the call for unity and action against the cuts.
“People have not got what they voted for—there’s no appetite for a right-leaning government with a policy of savage cuts on public services and the welfare state.
“If we have any social conscience then we have a duty to oppose the knife that will shortly be taken to the public services.
“This will require a united approach from all on the centre left of the political spectrum.
“The next few weeks will see proposals that can only result in massive job cuts and a driving down of services to the most vulnerable.
“I urge all that believe in social justice to support this movement and send a clear message to the Con Dems.
“We will not stand by and see the social fabric of our country dismantled by a gang of political egotists who have no mandate to inflict the most savage destruction of our way of life.”