Last night saw the 3rd and biggest lobby of Hillingdon council so far. Over 500 trade unionists, political activists, service users, public sector workers, youth and students turned out to make their voices heard.
The message to the council was clear: We don’t accept you cuts!
The Hillingdon Music Service Orchestra struck up some excellent tunes, which showed what an important and worthwhile service HMS provides to young people across the borough, as well as attracting members of the public to the demonstration.
As darkness began to fall outside the civic centre, the chant of ‘No Ifs! No Buts! No Public Sector Cuts!’ could be heard echoing up the high street, as several hundred young people and trade unionists marched on the civic centre, lead by Secretary of HAC Wally Kennedy, who had this to say:
“Despite schools out … 500 people turned up for the Lobby. Many more Trade Unionists, students and young people than last week. The council chamber was full and the Tories drew derision and laughter in trying to present themselves and the government as paragons of financial probity. The campaign against all cuts will grow and develop in the months ahead. The London Demo of March 26th will be huge … if the support from Hillingdon is anything to go by. “Let the tyrants tremble … the people are coming”. The organised workers will lead.”
As at the last lobby, almost all local trade union branches were represented. Unison Branch Secretary Steve Roderick was there to represent workers in the Connexions service. Connexions provides vital advice and support to young people across the borough regarding housing, education and work. Closing it in a time of mass youth unemployment and spiraling education costs is simply criminals.
Also present were care workers, who work with elderly and disabled people in the borough. They have faced big attacks on their wages and conditions in the last six months, with their travel expenses severely reduced; most are facing a 30-50% pay cut as their contract in tendered out to a private company.
More than half of the lobbyists were young people. It is clear by the councils actions that the youth of Hillingdon will face the brunt of this first round of cuts, and they turned out to show that they wouldn’t take it lying down!
As usual, the council tried to restrict access to the meeting, and then refused to discuss their plans in public. This is despite sending redundancy notices to staff! The council are worried however, summoning a unit of police officers to control the crowd. Upon discussion however, the police had far more sympathy with the protesters than with the council!
Across London and the UK, thousands of people are waking up to the attacks on their services and standard of living. Last week saw anti-cuts marches and demonstrations in many major towns, involving thousands of people. Last night, Lambeth and Haringey Councils were invaded by anti-cuts protesters. Local and Central government needs to wake up and see that we will not accept their cuts, and that we will fight to defend our services.
On the 26th of March, a huge demonstration has been organised in central London by the TUC: http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/
This march should bring together anti-cuts campaigners from across the country, to make a massive show of force to the ConDem government: We will not accept your cuts!
Hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out, and I would urge you to as well.