10,000 Lobby Against The Cuts!

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Unite members were at the lobby in force
Unite members were at the lobby in force

UP TO 10,000 workers and youth supported the TUC lobby of Parliament yesterday.

Many told News Line that they want trade union action to put the coalition out as soon as possible to defeat the savage cuts to be announced today by Chancellor Osborne.

Paula Black, Unison Convenor East Sussex Local Government Branch, Children’s Services and Social Care, said: ‘A large number of our members provide essential services, while members of their extended families receive those services.’

Heidi Garside, Unison West Yorkshire Police Branch, said: ‘They’ve already started on us and anything up to 800 jobs could go if it’s 25 per cent as they threaten.

‘We provide police support services and the public will lose out. Many of us would be prepared to strike to defend our jobs and the services we provide.

‘It would be the last resort but I think the mood is changing.’

Kevin Hardiman, Chairman of the Unite Construction Industry Section South West, and a shop steward in Bristol City Council, said: ‘They’ve been messing us about. They seem to want to take us on. Well if that’s what they want, that’s what they’re going to get. I would like to see the TUC call a general strike.’

Stephen Spence, Equity Assistant General Secretary, said: ‘We think they are going to hit the Arts with 25 per cent cuts and there’s a likelihood theatres will close. Equity will be prepared to look at anything we can reasonably do to protect jobs and our workplaces.’

Merlin Reader, CWU Mount Pleasant Area Rep and Secretary of Camden Trades Council, said: ‘There should be a general strike to defeat the cuts. We should be more like France.’

Phil Jackson, Unite West Midlands, said: ‘The government proudly announced yesterday that they have recruited an additional 200 benefit fraud investigators.

‘Why don’t they show the same sense of urgency in relation to tax avoidance and evasion from their fat cat friends?’

A lunchtime rally was held in Central Halls prior to the lobby of Parliament, with 2,000 packed inside.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber told the meeting: ‘The government is about to announce deeper cuts than any of us can remember, cuts that are too deep and too rapid.

‘We should back fair taxes. Those who did best from the boom should pay for the bust that they created.’

Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis said: ‘This rally should send a message of support to our London firefighters who are standing up for their jobs and our fire service.’

He continued: ‘This government hates public services.

‘We’ll build an alliance to break the pay freeze, an alliance to defend the Welfare State.

He concluded: ‘Today the fight begins. Hands off our public services.’

After the meeting, News Line asked Prentis why there were no Labour Party speakers at the rally. He replied: ‘Because they were not invited.’

George Owers, from Cambridge Labour Party, told News Line yesterday: ‘You’ll find there are a lot of grass root Labour Party members here. I can see that the new Labour leadership wants to distance itself from the TUC, which annoys me.

‘I would like to see Ed Miliband come out and defend the fact that the Labour Party gets money from the unions. We’re the Labour Party after all, we were born out of the trade union movement.

‘Equally, the trade union movement should put demands on the Labour Party.’