Right to Work—supported by local trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and the Birmingham Council Labour Group—held a press conference yesterday to demand the right to march past the Tory Party conference in the city on 3 October.
The Tory-run council is attempting to prevent the march from passing anywhere near the conference, and Socialist Worker was shown council plans to erect steel fencing around the area making it a no-go zone and turning surrounding streets into “limited access” areas.
Councillor Albert Bore, the leader of the Labour group on the council, spoke to Socialist Worker before the press conference:
“The Labour group supports the Right to Work Campaign's attempt to march through the city and as close as possible to the Tory conference.
“A growing number of people are extremely angry at what this government is doing in terms of cuts and job losses.
“The Conservatives need to know how people feel and we will keep supporting the right to march.”
A sombre mood has hit the city since the council sent notices, by email, to 26,000 workers demanding that they accept changes to terms and conditions or face the sack—without redundancy pay.
Mark Rose, branch secretary of Birmingham City Unison told Socialist Worker that Unison are calling on all their members to attend the protest.
“People are facing financial ruin because of this council's plans,” Mark said.
“Two thirds of our members are standing to lose as much as 30 percent of their income.
“We need to send a signal to the Tories—get ready for a winter of discontent.”
Birmingham City Unison assistant branch secretary Caroline Johnson told the story of a council cleaner who earns £700 a month and is standing to lose £174 a month—leaving her unable to pay her bills—if the council’s plans are forced through.
Andrew Lloyd, Midlands PCS regional secretary, told the press that there was an alternative to cuts—taxing the rich and the wealthy who avoid and evade paying tax.
Doug Morgan, secretary of Birmingham NUT, spoke about the impact of the cuts on students and families while Linda Burnip, the campaign co-ordinator for the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group, said, “These cuts are killing disabled people.”
Paul Brandon, national chair of the Right to Work campaign closed the press conference echoing the call for the people of Birmingham to join the protest.
Local television and print media covered the press conference.
The protest on 3 October is called by the Right to Work campaign and has been backed by four major trade unions—the PCS, NUJ, CWU and UCU—the NUS students' union and the Labour Representation Committee.
The demand for the right to march past the Tory conference is growing—signatories include 11 trade union general secretaries, hundred of trade unionists and MPs Ed Balls, Katy Clark, John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, John Cryer, Caroline Lucas and MSP Sandra White.
Go to www.righttowork.org.uk for updates