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Workers invade Con-Dem cutters in Hull
"I joined the union yesterday, I'm on my first demonstration today and I'm loving it!" These words by a Unison member summed up the mood of 400 or so council workers from Unison, Unite, GMB and UCATT who joined the 'Hull against the Cuts' lobby of Lib Dem controlled Hull City Council on Thursday 20 January.
The turnout was large, probably the biggest anti-council demo in more than a decade. It follows a week of mass meetings where union leaders have explained to the workers the full extent of the cuts in Hull. Significantly, after lying dormant for many years, the city council joint shop stewards committee met for the first time last week to begin to coordinate action in this local authority.
At one local workplace meeting the local Unison rep urged caution and not to "use left wing rhetoric" in case it puts people off. This advice was ignored by the speakers and significantly, many from that meeting joined the union and came on the lobby. This completely vindicates what the Socialist Party has been arguing - namely that a clear lead will inspire workers to take action to defend their jobs and conditions and will help build the union.
As the lobby grew, a spontaneous march started that went right round the Guildhall. When it returned to the main entrance, there was only one place to go - into the meeting itself! With chants of "The workers united will never be defeated" and "No ifs, no buts, no Con-Dem cuts" the demonstrators marched through the corridors of power into the council chamber. The councillors were forced to retreat to their offices behind locked doors with ashen faces as they were beginning to realise the power that the organised working class has in Hull.
Earlier, Steve Brady, the leader of the Labour group of councillors reiterated his earlier promise that if Labour wins the council in May, there will be no compulsory redundancies and all privatised services will be brought back in-house. We welcome Steve's stand but to make sure that he is able to deliver these promises against the likely intervention from the Con-Dems nationally, 'Hull against the Cuts' is determined to build an even bigger movement that will unite the workers in the council with the voluntary sector and service users to defend jobs and services in the city.