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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 September 2010

Building the anti-cuts fightback: Local campaign launches

Brighton

Over 200 people packed into Friends Meeting House in Brighton on Thursday 9 September to launch a community-wide campaign against cuts.

Speaking from the trade union movement, Chris Baugh (PCS) and Andy Richards (Unison) dismantled the received wisdom of reducing government debt through cuts and highlighted the vast long-term costs of cutting key public services and forcing thousands into unemployment and below the poverty line.

Chris Baugh called for united action within the labour movement and for unions to develop links across the public sector and with local communities.

Ümit Ozturk from the Mediterranean Resources Network said Cameron's "big society" double-speak actually signalled a new battle in the war between the hungry and the greedy.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas arrived late from parliament and delivered a message of unity whilst describing the cuts as an attack on the 'living wage'.

Brighton Benefits called for employed and unemployed workers to unite, describing how cuts to welfare are intended to 'soften up' the labour market by driving the unemployed into destitution and desperation.

Pete Offord from Brighton Socialist Party argued for a strategy to put pressure on the local councillors to reject the cuts and propose an alternative budget that reflects the needs of ordinary people, and to wage a campaign for the difference in funding to come from the government. Pete said that if no Brighton councillors are willing to do this, Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition should consider standing its own candidates who will.

Angry Connexions workers described the appalling effects that planned cuts to their organisation would have for disadvantaged young people, whilst cuts to the meagre mental health budget were slammed by the NHS Support Foundation.

Organisations were welcomed to send delegates to plan for the European Day of Action against the cuts on 29 September.

Shona McCulloch Brighton Socialist Party

Swansea

Around 70 trade unionists and community campaigners attended Swansea trade union council's public meeting and agreed to launch an anti-cuts campaign. Many of those who attended were on the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC.

Speakers warned the meeting about the Con-Dem cuts to come but also described the massive cuts that they have faced over the last few years.

Labour Party members were present and a local councillor gave support from the floor. This was welcomed by the meeting but only on the basis that they refuse to implement the cuts. As someone from the audience warned: "We'll totally support any Labour MP, Welsh Assembly Member and councillor who refuses to carry out the cuts but not if they carry them out. If you walk like the enemy, talk like the enemy and shoot like the enemy, you are the enemy!"

The meeting agreed to hold a rally in the city's Castle Square at 6pm on 29 September as part of the Europe-wide day of action against the cuts.

Rob Williams Swansea trade union council

Portsmouth

The first public meeting of Portsmouth trades council's anti-cuts campaign saw 80 trade unionists and community activists packed into a university lecture hall on Thursday 16 September to discuss and debate with speakers from the RMT, Unite and Unison unions.

On the platform RMT deputy general secretary Pat Sikorski was joined by Unite general secretary candidate Jerry Hicks and Unison regional officer Phil Woods.

Sikorski said that we should not accept one single cut. In comparison Woods was forced to defend himself from questions from the floor on why he had openly accepted the need for cuts on the local TV news the night before.

The meeting will be followed by a rally in central Portsmouth on 29 September as part of the international day of workers' action, called by the European Trade Union Confederation.

Ben Norman Portsmouth Socialist Party

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