The Socialist 25 October 2007 |
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Huddersfield SOS: Class fighters' bold initiative
A RALLY last week publicly launched Huddersfield's Save Our Services (SOS) coalition and announced that this new united force will take to the political arena in the spring.
Around 35 people from different campaign groups and trade unions attended the meeting. A variety of speakers stressed the need for an alliance of groups to pose a political alternative for working-class people in Huddersfield.
Mel Mills, from the campaign that successfully defended local nursery services in the town, spoke on what she called "an important victory for the working class." That campaign has inspired thousands of people who have seen a struggle, fought by the community and trade unions together, defeat the Tory administration.
Equally inspiring are the sacked Unique Care women, still fighting for their jobs having walked out of work early in 2007 due to harassment and poor working conditions at the privately-contracted care company. "We're not going away until justice is served," explained Paulette, one of the women involved.
"We stood up to Unique Care, the unjust and unfair. We now stand for equal rights and justice for everybody. We'll fight until we're old and grey if we need to," she said to loud applause.
Annette Jallow spoke of the battle facing the school her children attend, which is under threat of closure with a view to being replaced by an Academy. "If it's not for community action, people standing up for what they need in their area, then these cuts will happen," Annette warned.
Other speakers included Huddersfield Technical College President and Socialist Students activist Evangeline Holland-Ramsay.
SOS will begin in a strong position, having within it councillor Jackie Grunsell, elected last year for the Save Huddersfield NHS campaign. Jackie, who campaigned as a Socialist Party member, doctor and councillor alongside women from the nursery and Unique Care campaigns, spoke of the brutal effects of New Labour's agenda.
"Cuts and privatisation all across the public sector prevents the next generation from gaining an education and creates a society to grow up in that is no longer a guaranteed improvement from previous generations," Jackie explained. "United action is needed to defeat these measures. Working-class people here have taken matters into their own hands and won.
"Socialist principles of need and equality are what the NHS and other public services were built on. With these principles and socialist ideas, we can begin to change society."
This bold initiative is not only important for Huddersfield, but can act as an example of a step towards a new mass workers' party nationally.
A steering committee will work on taking this alliance forward, by preparing to stand in the local elections and by building up support for the strike action which already looks inevitable this coming winter.