Anger at the Tories’ assault on public services and the welfare state is fuelling support for the 3 October demonstration outside the Tory Party conference in Birmingham.
Sheffield offers a glimpse of the scale of the backing for the protest, initiated by the Right to Work campaign.
The South Yorkshire branch of the Fire Brigades Union is the latest group in the city to sign up.
“People were keen to build the demonstration,” said Ben Morris, a Right to Work activist in Sheffield who addressed the firefighters’ meeting.
“One rep said that it is important to get firefighters on the protest.
They talked about the brilliant support South Yorkshire firefighters received from other trade unionists during their strike last year.”
The meeting voted unanimously to support the demonstration and affiliate to Right to Work. Reps agreed to put flyers on every noticeboard in their workplaces.
Support has already come from Sheffield Labour Party, Sheffield NUT, Sheffield university UCU lecturers’ union, Sheffield trades council, the PCS DWP housing office branch, the GMB local government branch, Sheffield Hallam university Unison, and the Westfield and Halfway tenants’ and residents’ association.
“We have raised enough funding for three coaches so far,” said Ben.
“We’ve got to show the Tories and the TUC that there are people prepared to fight.
“We don’t want to waste any time in building a movement that unites everybody this government is attacking.”
Paul Page is from the Westfield and Halfway tenants’ and residents’ association. He told Socialist Worker, “Our committee has agreed to fund 30 tenants to go on the demo. We will put it into our newsletter and discuss the demo at our September AGM.
“It isn’t just the housing benefit cuts that will hurt tenants here.
“People are very worried about the VAT increase, which could mean the difference between people being able to cope or not.
“And our estates are in need of work. There are hardly any youth facilities in the area.
“It is hard living on an estate where things are left to rot, and then seeing cuts pushed through.
“But it also means people are getting angry and that there is a potential to involve them in fighting back.”
Paul is also a retired member of the Sheffield Metropolitan branch of the Unison union. He is putting a Right to Work motion to his branch this week.
Bea Kay’s local government GMB branch has also backed the protest.
“My branch isn’t known for supporting political activity,” said Bea. “But it is a sign of how concerned people are that the motion to back the demo went through unopposed.
“We agreed to pay for any GMB members who want to go on the coach to Birmingham and to send out an email encouraging people to come.
“Sheffield council has announced £6.5 million worth of cuts.
“It isn’t clear where they will fall, but we already know that 90 posts are going at Connexions and there is a pay freeze again this year. There are plenty of issues we can mobilise people around.”
Right to Work campaign activists in Pendle, Lancashire, called a protest outside Tory MP Andrew Stephenson’s surgery last week.
It was over the government’s decision to pull the plug on planned improvements to four local schools.
Residents were joined by several members of the local Labour Party and a Lib Dem county councillor.
Stephenson decided not to show up for his surgery.
A public meeting is planned for the start of the school term.