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Hull council workers demand that Labour councillors oppose cuts
In a week that saw redundancies announced in Hull at two companies, Seven Seas and McCain Foods, over 300 angry Hull City Council workers rallied outside the Guildhall at the start of a campaign to oppose the latest round of cuts in council jobs and services.
The protest had been called by the council trade unions with speakers from Unison, GMB and the NUT.
Significantly four Labour councillors also spoke from the platform pledging their solidarity with the campaign.
Other Labour councillors were in the crowd. The lobby was to show support for those Labour councillors prepared to fight and to encourage those who haven't made up their minds.
Councillor Gary Wareing explained that the Con-Dem government was "trying to put the crisis of the capitalist system on the backs of the workers" and asked of those Labour councillors not present: "We have to ask the question, whose side are you on?" He reminded his colleagues of the origins of the Labour Party, founded by the trade unions to provide political representation for the working class. "We need a real alternative; a Labour government committed to repeal the anti trade union laws, one prepared to stand up for working people the way this present government stands up for big business!".
Mick Whale of the NUT explained that the Tories were demanding cuts of £100 million in Hull over the next two years and that if that happens the council budget will have been cut by a third compared to the budget in 2010.
That would mean a third less spent on kids from the poorest areas and a third less spent on social services for the elderly. "We're not just defending what we've got, we're fighting for a future, to be able to build homes and create apprenticeships". And where would the money come from?
Mick pointed out that the rich are refusing to pay their taxes, with £800 billion uncollected through various tax loopholes.
And billions of pounds are in the banks lying idle. Mick received one of the loudest cheers from those present when he called to account "those Hull councillors who are wavering, and the Labour Leaders nationally, if you're not prepared to stand with the 99% then move out the way, let's have politicians that are prepared to stand with the 99%!"
The council trade unions have launched a petition and urged all present to take it back into their workplaces and into the community, to build the movement so that tens of thousands in the city unite to fight austerity.
Phil Culshaw, Unison Steward (personal capacity)
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 October 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.