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Building the anti-cuts movement
2,000 march in Norwich
Saturday 4 December saw approximately 2,000 people march through Norwich. This was in protest against cuts to vital services that the Tory administration in Norfolk County Council will implement on behalf of their millionaire club puppet masters in Downing Street.
The march brought together students, trade unionists, workers, service users and carers, and many others, who again made loud and clear the message to county hall that the people of Norfolk will not accept any cut to any service.
One of the speakers at the rally which followed the march was Felicity Dowling, one of the 1983-87 Liverpool 47 councillors, who demanded and won £60 million out of the then Tory government with the mass support of the people of Liverpool. Her experience of fighting and defeating ideological cuts was undoubtedly an inspiration to all.
It is also worthy of note that not one of the county's MPs attended the march and rally, proving that they are indeed 'all in this together' in their blinkered ignorance of the desires and needs of their constituents.
The same week saw a student occupation and separate protest at the University of East Anglia against the proposed trebling of tuition fees. There was also a protest by students from City College Norwich against the impact that cuts in public transport would have on those who live in the rural areas of Norfolk, essentially denying them access to further education opportunities.
Mick Duffin Norwich Socialist Party
Coventry demo of 400
Up to 400 people marched through Coventry city centre in a demonstration called by the Coventry Against the Cuts campaign on Saturday 4 December.
There were banners and placards from the PCS, Unite, Unison, Coventry TUC, GMB, NUT, TSSA unions and many more. Socialist Party 'Fight the Cuts' placards were also prominent.
The loud, vibrant demo finished with a rally with excellent speakers from Coventry TUC, Unison, Unite, NUT, disability rights campaigners and student activists. One of the student speakers, Lenny Shail, gave a barnstorming speech calling for students and workers to link up.
Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist called for the Labour council to refuse to implement cuts. The council plans to make huge cuts and has recently sent out letters to all employees warning their jobs could disappear. The council also wants 1,000 workers to give up their jobs as part of a voluntary redundancy programme.
The rally was addressed by Coventry Labour leader John Mutton, who tried to explain that the Labour council will not be making any cuts. This was met with disbelief from many council workers. A Connexions worker directly challenged Mutton over job losses and how the council are making cuts.
A Coventry Socialist Party member
Over 120 people attended a protest against the cuts in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday 4 December, organised by North Staffs Against Cuts (NSAC).
Trade unionists came together with local community members to tell the local Labour-led city council and the Con-Dem government that we will fight all cuts. There were speakers from the NUT, Unison, PCS, NUS and Unite trade unions, Youth Fight for Jobs and local community anti-cuts campaigners.
Mark Weston explained how parents and NHS workers are taking part in the Save Buttercups NHS Nursery campaign.
Liat Norris from Youth Fight for Education said that if the TUC gave its sanction, millions of workers would take action against these brutal cuts. This is proved by the recent student strikes and demonstrations, including in the nearby Tory bastion of Stafford.
Socialist Party member Andy Bentley, speaking on behalf of NSAC, had a message for local councillors: "Instead of sitting in rooms planning how they can stop us marching, who they can sack or what they can cut, close or privatise, they should join with the growing campaign of opposition to cuts."
Stoke Socialist Party
Salford Campaign launch
Over 70 people attended the launch of Salford Against the Cuts, an initiative of Salford Trades Council, including 'Shameless' TV star and ex-Salford University student Maxine Peake.
Sarah Davies, a midwife and midwifery lecturer at Salford University, spoke for the long-running campaign to save maternity services at Salford Royal Hospital. Sarah appealed to people to support the lobby of the strategic health authority (see page 3).
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, gave examples of the realities of daily life under capitalism, the impact of the cuts and the need for a change of society.
Jane Warburton of the PCS Young Members' Network, said how the cuts effect young workers and promoted the Rally Against Youth Unemployment in Manchester on 29 January.
In the discussion the deputy leader of the Labour council, councillor Lancaster, said nothing had been decided yet about cuts and negotiations were continuing with the unions.
However, in response to pressure from the meeting on a 'no cuts' policy, he said that the meeting could not ask councillors 'to put their house on the line' - ignoring the fact that councillors can no longer be surcharged like the 1983-87 Liverpool councillors. Nonetheless a 'no cuts' policy was agreed, as was support for a lobby of the council at its January meeting.
Steve North Salford Socialist Party
West Cheshire against cuts
55 people attended the launch of West Cheshire Against Cuts on 2 December. The mood was lively and the idea of putting forward a Socialist alternative to cuts was greeted with much applause.
The PCS civil service union highlighted stopping tax avoidance by the rich and job creation as alternatives to the government's cuts agenda. Socialist Party members promoted the 9 December student protests, the 11 December Liverpool demo, and the TUC national demo on 26 March. Many people spoke of the need for a movement similar to the one that defeated the poll tax.
Alec Price, Chester Socialist Party
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