Socialist Worker

Anti-Tory demo gaining support

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2212

The biggest region of the Unite union, the London & Eastern Region, last week voted to back the protest at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on 3 October.

It represents a quarter of a million workers.

This is just one of a string of trade union groups that have voted to support the protest, called by the Right to Work campaign.

It has been backed nationally by the NUJ, UCU and PCS unions and the Labour Representation Committee.

The London region of the FBU union, Preston trades council, Kirklees Unison, Sheffield UCU, the CWU’s South Central No1 and Mount Pleasant branches also backed it last week.

And a 37-strong meeting of Unison union stewards in Sandwell, Midlands, voted unanimously to back the protest.

Tony Barnsley, joint assistant branch secretary of Sandwell Unison, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.

“The tone of the meeting was clear—this is a three-line whip, we need to get as many people to the protest as possible,” he said.

“The cut to Building Schools for the Future has been a major source of anger in our area.

“But people can also see what the Tories want to do to all of our services and our jobs.

“It’s clear what the Tories’ agenda is. Our job is to fight for an alternative and not let people sink into depression.”

The branch is also producing a postcard in response to David Cameron’s request for public sector workers to tell the government where to make cuts.

It suggests that in order to save cash, the government taxes the rich, cuts bankers’ bonuses and the Trident nuclear missile system, and stops wasting money on deadly wars.

A postcard will be sent to every Unison member in Sandwell and will be delivered to the Tories on 3 October.

Trade unionists and other activists are booking transport to get to the protest from across Britain.

In Preston, Plymouth and Walthamstow, north London, local trades councils have put on transport.

Lynne Wallace is secretary of the Preston and South Ribble trades council. She told Socialist Worker, “We are a campaigning trades council.

“There are lots of different unions involved that face specific cuts—but we can see that they are all linked.

Minefield

“Cuts that affect my union, the PCS, will hit unemployed people. They will have to navigate the minefield that is the benefits system with fewer people to help them.

“People who really need help won’t get it.

That has knock-on effects for their health and mental state—but then cuts in the health service will mean they’re less likely to get help there either.

“The government’s rhetoric is that we’re all in the same boat, but we’re not. They’re stomping on us.”

The London region of the FBU not only voted to back the demo at a meeting last week, but also affiliated to the Right to Work campaign and promised to put on transport.

Ben Sprung, the union’s London regional organiser, told Socialist Worker that the protest on 3 October is part of preparing for a fightback in the future.

“The Tories are attacking our pay, terms and conditions—but their cuts will also hit service users.

“It’s the same in the fire service as in schools and hospitals—the Tories are getting ready to privatise our services.

“The people who should be paying for this crisis aren’t paying. Meanwhile we’re paying twice—with bailing out the banks and with worse services.

“We can’t afford not to build for this protest. Our pensions are being robbed and our jobs are being slashed—the only thing we can do is fight.”

Yusuf Timms, borough secretary for Kensington & Chelsea FBU, added, “London firefighters are facing a very serious attack from a Tory fire authority and a Tory mayor.

“It has been given an added impetus by the election of a Tory government.

“There was no opposition to backing the protest at our meeting. People can see the bigger picture of cuts that firefighters are part of.”

Ray, a senior Unite union rep in Wembley and Hendon, explained why his branch backed the protest: “There are people here who are fighting to save a local hospital, people fighting job cuts and people fighting to defend welfare,” he said.

“They feel the need for a united response and want to be associated with Right to Work because they see it as uniting people.”

It’s not just union branches that are backing the Birmingham protest.

Uniting

The Sheffield Labour Party executive is supporting the protest and has booked a coach for the day.

More transport is booked from York, Bristol, Kent, Southend, Dundee, Edinburgh, Oxford, Plymouth & Exeter, Leeds, Barnsley and Tower Hamlets, east London.

The Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts campaign has put on a coach, backed by Cambridge trades council, Huntingdon & St Neots trades council, Cambridgeshire Unison and Cambridge NUT.

In Glasgow, the Scottish Housing Associations branch of Unite has booked transport.

The diversity of those backing the protest gives a glimpse of the potential for a monster demo outside the Tory Party conference—and for building a mass movement that can smash the Tories.

For more info and to download leaflets go to www.righttowork.org.uk


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Tue 27 Jul 2010, 17:54 BST
Issue No. 2212
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