Socialist Worker

Reports from demonstrations against the spending cuts, 20 October 2010

People around the country are protesting against the savage Tory cuts in George Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). These reports will be updated through the day. [updated 9.35pm]

Issue No. 2224

Students marching in Glasgow (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Students marching in Glasgow (Pic: Duncan Brown)


London

Around 3,000 people gathered at the entrance to Downing Street tonight to protest against George Osborne’s cuts package.

Some 2,500 people had marched from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to join several hundred already at Downing Street for a rally. People joined the march as it went along.

On the way to Downing Street protesters chanted, “David Cameron, get out, we know what you’re all about—cuts, job losses, money for the bosses”.

Others shouted, “Unite and fight—general strike!”

Banners on the march reflected the diversity of those protesting. They included Waltham Forest Unison, Islington Trades Council, Holborn & St Pancras Labour Party, Camden Keep Our NHS Public, the Defend Whittington Hospital Campaign, Tower Hamlets Unison, Greenwich NUT, Burslem CWU, GMB Ealing, Defend Council Housing and Goldsmiths UCU.

Demonstrators reached Downing Street and were welcomed by more protesters from the Coalition of Resistance group who had already gathered there.

There were some scuffles with police, who bizarrely tried to snatch the Right to Work campaign banner from women activists at one point.

Demonstrators heard from speakers including Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, George Binette, secretary of Camden trades council, and Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU.

George Binette described the “insanity of Eton educated, Bullingdon Club Cameron bringing in cuts not seen since the 1920s.” He said the Tories would force thousands of people to face “the awful prospect of eviction from London or homelessness”.

But, he added, “The resistance has begun.”

Many others spoke of the need to fight back together.

“If students and workers march in France, we can do it here as well,” Mark Serwotka told the crowd. “The Tories are a bloody disgrace—it’s daylight robbery.

“What are we going to do? Industrial action is absolutely inevitable—and we should coordinate it across the unions.”

Matt Wrack spoke of the impending strikes in London, as firefighters prepare to walk out this Saturday. “Firefighters in London are on the frontline of Tory attacks,” he said.

“The bosses are saying—toe the line or we’ll sack you. Well we’re walking out on strike.

“Join us on the picket lines on Saturday and support your firefighters.”

As demonstrators gathered in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Lucas Tivili, a teacher from Lewisham, told Socialist Worker: “We have to start fighting back against the government. What I heard today from George Osborne sent a chill down my spine—we can’t let them destroy everything generations of workers have fought for.”

Michelle from King's College was one of the hundreds of students who marched from their universities to join the protest.

“The government wants education geared towards what their friends can make money out of,” she told Socialist Worker. “I find that disgusting. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I think about my little sister who will now be terrified about coming to university because of the bill at the end of it—but because unemployment is so high what choices are left for people like her?”

Doug, a Unison member from Camden, helped build the protest. He said, “We worked really hard to make sure that all parts of the community are represented here today. I am so proud to see all of the banners from trades councils and different unions. It shows how united we can be and it is this unity which we have to remember over the coming weeks and months. We have to beat these cuts—there is no other way to say it.”

Kerry from Camden joined the protest with two of her friends and their children. She told Socialist Worker, “This is the first demonstration I’ve ever been on. I had to come—I’m so frustrated and angry because of the cuts to schools. My kids will never get to university. They are taking away jobs and benefits at the same time—it doesn’t make sense.”

Earlier hundreds of students had marched from the University of London Union through central London to the assembly point. Sandy, a student at the London School of Economics, told Socialist Worker, 'It feels fantastic to be marching down Kingsway stopping traffic. It gives me a taste of not only what we have to do, but what we are capable of.'

The demo from Lincoln’s Inn Fields was called by Camden trades council and supported by Holborn & St Pancras Constituency Labour Party, Right to Work Campaign, Keep Our NHS Public, Coalition of Resistance, Islington Hands Off Our Public Services and around 20 union branches, trades councils and student groups.

The Downing Street rally was called by Coalition of Resistance.


Barnsley

Hundreds of trade unionists from public service unions—particularly PCS, Unison and GMB—and students gathered in Peel Square for a protest organised by Barnsley Trades Council. More than 50 lecturers and students marched down from Barnsley College to join the protest. There were speakers from Unison, GMB, PCS and UCU and the Right To Work Campaign.

Several speakers got a big cheer for stressing the need to 'Go French' and organise a general strike to defeat the Tories.

One student said, 'We’re not going to let the Tories do to us what they did to your generation in the 1980s' and was cheered by all present.


Bath

Up to 70 people protested in Bath against the Tory cuts. On the protest were members of the Unison, UCU and NUT unions, the trades council, the Labour Party, Stop the War, CND and the Bath Activists Network.


Birmingham

Around 300 people marched on the Government Office of the West Midlands this evening. The protest organised by Right to Work and the People’s Charter was joined by council workers facing massive wage cuts, civil service workers, teachers, students, disability rights activists and pensioners.


Bolton

Around 150 protesters rallied in Bolton's Victoria Square. Fifty had marched in from Halliwell on the north side. We started from Falcon View, passed the Jubilee Centre, and were greeted by applause and Cheers at St Georges Day Centre, where a combined group of service users and staff (perhaps 30) lifted the spirits, and clearly surprised the Unison stewards and activists, who'd organized the march.

The noise and anger of the chanting, through cobbled streets and main roads alike, as traffic and onlookers, gave us a favourable passage without police escort, went up several decibals as we entered Victoria Square.

Speakers from the town hall steps included former MP Brian Iddon, Barry Conway (NUT), Alan Johnson (Green Party) Florence and Martin (Unison), Karen Reissman and myself for RTW.

Derek Holman


Bristol

From 5pm 200 people demonstrated in Bristol, including 50 students from the local Further Education college. The demonstration marched to Lloyds Bank's headquarters in the city, the lobby of which was briefly occupied by some students to express their rage at EMA and education cuts. Union banners from Unite, NUT, Unison and UCU were on the march. It was joined by a feeder march of students from UWE.


Cambridge

Trade unionist, students and community campaigners from Cambridgeshire against the Cuts protested at Cambridge train station this morning to send a message to Lib Dem Coalition MP Julian Huppert not to bother comming home from London if he continues to support the Tory spending cuts.


Cardiff

The PCS and Unison unions organised a lunchtime protest of the Welsh Assembly against the cuts, which was attended by 150 and addressed by speakers including First Minister Carwyn Jones, Leanne Woods AP and Paul O'Shea of Unison.

In the evening 50 people came to a Right to Work rally. A speaker from disability rights group Cardiff People First was outraged at the Osborne's assault this afternoon.


Coventry

Over 250 people joined the Coventry Against the Cuts protest this evening. Workers from Youth service and Connexions came together with teachers, lecturers, postal, civil service and local government workers, pensioners and students.


Essex university

Around 120 students held a rally and march at Essex university. Dan Swain, who helped to organise the protest, told Socialist Worker, “We marched on the vice chancellor’s office but he wasn’t there. So after some speeches we took the crowd to a lecture theatre and held a mass meeting to discuss where next.

“The mood was brilliant, with lots of new people getting involved and talking about the need for occupations against cuts.

“People were also keen to directly put pressure on the vice chancellor to stop him from making cuts and raising tuition fees.”

The students are bring a coach to the Education Activists Network conference and building support for local anti cuts initiatives.


Glasgow university

Around 150 students marched through Glasgow university campus this lunchtime to unite against fees and cuts.

James Foley, a student at the university told Socialist Worker, “Our principal has sickeningly set up an email address so people can suggest what to cut as part of the 20 percent cuts he has just announced. But the demo today showed that students want to stand united and fight, not turn against one another in suggesting cuts.

“We started to plan the protest last week. It was organised by the anti-cuts alliance, the Labour club and the student representation council. We marched from the main gate to the principal’s office where we chanted and made speeches for about an hour.”


Edinburgh university

Students at Edinburgh University created a wall of boxes outside the university library to signify the barriers to education that were announced today.


Inverness

More than 20 trade unionists protested outside the constituency office of Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander.


Leeds

More than 500 people—including 150 students who marched from Leeds university—joined the Leeds Trades Council protest against the cuts.


Liverpool

One hundred and fifty people protested in Liverpool tonight. Students from Liverpool and Hope universities joined the protest alongside teachers, lecturers, health and local government workers and civil servants.


London: Conel

A noisy and lively protest was held on the steps of the College of North East London today to let management and the government know that staff and students there are not going to take the attacks lying down.

Jenny Sutton, UCU branch secretary, told Socialist worker, “There were around 100 of us out there making noise against the cuts. Staff and students both addressed the crowd.

“We’re going to keep up these protests and we’re encouraging students to go to the UCU and NUS-backed demo on the 10 November. Management are saying students shouldn’t go, but we all have to stand up for education.”


London: Ealing

Fifty people gathered on the steps of Ealing Town Hall in west London to their express anger at the CSR. The protest included members of the Unison, GMB and NUT unions.


London: HSE Protest

Thirty five members of the PCS and Prospect unions protested in Westminster against the Con-Dem cuts outside the London office of Health and Safety Executive and the national headquarters of the Crown Prosecution Service.


London: Pensioners' protest

The National Pensioners' Convention and disability rights groups protested outside parliament at lunch time today, while George Osborne was making his slasher's speech. Around 35 people attended a protest with placards reading, “Bailouts for bankers but peanuts for pensioners.”


London: Southwark

Around 120 people protested against the cuts in Southwark, where a lobby of the Labour Council was organised by the recently-formed Save Our Services campaign. A large contingent of the Council’s manual workforce attended – from where many of the 1,000 job-losses are expected to come.


Luton

Around 80 people gathered in Luton town centre at 12.30pm. Local activist Steve said they were, “building up a head of steam against the cuts”.

There were speakers from the NUT, Unite and PCS unions and the trades council.


Manchester Metropolitan University

More than 120 students, lecturers, support staff and care takers protested at Manchester Met university today against the proposed cuts to education funding set out in the Browne review and the spending cuts announced today.

Doug Oxer, a member of the RMT transport union, told the crowd, “We used to be proud of having some of the best universities in the world, but if fees go up I won’t be able to afford for my kids to go.

'All workers are in this together, whether in the UCU, Unite, RMT or any other union. We’ve seen from the French what they can do—we can do it to. We have to show Cameron that we’re serious, we need to smash this government.”


Plymouth

Some 70 trade unionists, pensioners and students joined the vibrant, loud protest in the city centre. Representatives from Unison, Unite, GMB, RMT, UCU, PCS and the local Claimants Union held a rally with banners and placards in the middle of the shopping centre, calling for united strike action against the government assault.

Darren Turner, Branch Secretary of the council union Unite, called for a major campaign of opposition across the trade union movement. Sarah Allen-Melvin from PCS spoke of the tens of billions of pounds of uncollected taxes from the super-rich and corporations. Dean Smith from the local Claimants Union exposed the major attack on Welfare Benefits that will create blinding poverty.


Preston

Around 200 people protested in Preston at lunchtime. The protest was called by Preston Trades Council and supported by Right to Work.

Students, who leafleted council workers at City Hall in the morning, joined with workers in Flag Market to listen to speeches by the CWU, PCS and community groups including the women’s refuge.


Scunthorpe

More than 30 workers attended a demonstration at Britannia Corner


Southampton

In the early evening more than 150 people marched through Southampton chanting 'No ifs, no buts, say no to George's cuts.' The demonstration included members of Unison, Unite, PCS and Napo unions and the Labour Party.


Sussex university

Some 150 students marched through Sussex university campus today with a huge banner reading, “Our austerity is their prosperity”. It was the first demonstration against the cuts this year and organisers were pleased with the turnout.

Simon Englert, a student at Sussex, told Socialist Worker, “We had a speaker from a local campaign in Brighton which is defending a nursery the council wants to shut down. The student union and the UCU union supported the demonstration.'

The students marched to vice chancellor Michael Farthing’s office chanting, “Farthing, do us proud, say no to the cuts out loud.”

Farthing wrote an article in the Independent newspaper last year calling for higher fees in universities.

The students are now building support for local demonstrations against the cuts, as well as the Education Activist Network conference on 31 October and the national education demonstration on 10 November.


Wakefield

Over 20 students and staff from Wakefield college protested today against the spending cuts.

Students at the college will be hit hard by the reforming of educational maintenance allowance which helps students study.

The demo had UCU banners, NUT flags and Unison members who attended despite being told not to by union full timers.


City and Islington College, London

Over 80 staff and students, including delegations from Finsbury Park and

Marlborough House protested against Cameron's cuts on Thursday. Education will be only for the rich if the Con Dems have their way.

The mood was very angry and speeches attacking the rise in tuition fees, and cuts in EMA were loudly cheered. Sudents and staff vowed to fight the attacks on the poor, old, young and disabled. This is only the beginning of the campaign.

On 10 November staff and students will be attending a massive national march and rally in central London.

Andy Strouthous, Chair UCU Co ordinating Committee

If you have been on a protest send a report or a picture to reports@socialistworker.co.uk

Protesting at Cambridge station

Protesting at Cambridge station


Demonstrating in Ealing

Demonstrating in Ealing



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Wed 20 Oct 2010, 14:53 BST
Issue No. 2224
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