Trade unionists challenge Lib-Dems

ON SUNDAY 19 September, despite pouring rain, 4,000 trade unionists rallied in Liverpool to lobby the Liberal Democrat party conference.

Paul Gerrard, Salford Socialist Party

The Tories and their Lib-Dem coalition government partners are axing thousands of public sector workers’ jobs and pushing through billions of pounds of cuts in essential public services in an attempt to make working people pay for the economic crisis caused by capitalism.

From the assembly point at Salthouse Dock, I watched as a feeder march joined the static rally to terrific applause, doubling the size of the rally.

Led by the banners of the teaching unions, there were significant contingents from PCS, the civil servants’ union, and Unison, the public sector workers’ union, plus several local groups, including the Liverpool Joint Trade Union Committee.

For ‘security reasons’ the rally was not allowed in the immediate vicinity of the conference but there was no shortage of Lib-Dem delegates to discuss with. One young delegate I gave a leaflet to said he had been a Labour supporter but was repelled by the Labour government’s approach to civil liberties issues and joined the Lib-Dems after the general election.

He totally agreed that there was now no difference between the Lib-Dems and the Tories and that big business ‘ruled the roost’, quoting the deal revenue and customs (HMRC) have done to write off £6 billion of tax which Vodafone should have paid.

This was ironic given that Lib-Dem Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander, that same afternoon, was promising Lib-Dem delegates that the government was going to get tough with tax evaders.

This was a good start for the labour and trade union movement in the north west, and drew a good response from the activist layer. Now we need a national demo and one-day general strike in the public sector!