anti-cuts, Bradford HMRC PCS, CND, Dave Webb, Iain Dalton, Jane Aitchison, Laura Miles, Leeds Against the Cuts, Leeds UNISON, Manny Domniguez, Michael Johnson, NHS, Nick Parker, protest, Rhiannon Wright, Tanis Belsham-Wray, Trade Unions in Leeds, YFJ
Just hours after George Osborne announced his budget for the millionaires, Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs organised a well supported protest rally against the attacks he and the rest of the ConDem government are making on ordinary people. The rally was called under the slogan ‘Scrap Workfare, Stop the Cuts’ and saw 50 people attend, whilst many others stopped by to sign Youth Fight for Jobs petition or listen to several of the speakers.
Leeds Socialist Party members
The rally heard from young activists affected by workfare – Rhiannon Wright from Youth Fight for Jobs, spoke about her experiences on the Work Programme, explaining the patronising nature of the course as well as the huge profits being made by companies running such workfare schemes. She also highlighted that the real problem is the lack of jobs and outlined the need for a programme of public works.
Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Organiser of Youth Fight for Jobs, and an USDAW (retail workers union) member explained how workfare is undermining pay and conditions in the retail sector, quoting from the governments own study that it led to existing staff receiving less hours to work and that some placements had replaced temporary jobs over Christmas, a clear attempt to use ‘free’ labour to undercut exisiting workers jobs. Iain also slammed the decision to freeze the National Minimum Wage for those under 21.
The rally also heard Socialist Party member Michael Johnson explain the situation for workers in Kazkahstan fighting against the savage attacks of their government and big business. He appealed for trade unionists there to get their branches to back Campaign Kazakhstan.
The rally was also well supported by various local groups including Keep Our NHS Public, Leeds Against the Cuts and Leeds UNISON, with the latter including an article about the protest and recent Youth Fight for Jobs activities in its latest shop stewards bulletin . Also in attendence was Dave Webb, national chair of CND who gave a short speech explaining how tens of thousands of pounds had been wasted on nuclear weapons that could have been spent on our public services just whilst George Osborne spoke on the budget.
Angie, a healthworker and Keep Our NHS Public activist explained how the fight must go on to Save the NHS even after the government has passed the Health and Social Care Bill, whilst Socialist Party member and Leeds City Council shop steward Manny Dominguez explained the latest developments inside his union branch as the local Labour-run council continues to make savage cuts to jobs and services.
We also heard from Laura Miles, UCU NEC member, and Jane Aitchison, PCS DWP President, on the latest in their unions to fight against the cuts, with Jane also explaining the vicious attack that attempts to impose regional pay represent. Nick Parker, a PCS rep at Bradford HMRC, explain how Osborne tax cuts would only benefit him by a paltry £220 a year, whilst someone on £200,000 would be £168 a month better off (£2,016 a year) and a millionaire would be £3541 a month better off! (£42,492 a year!!!).
Both Jane and Nick explained that PCS has been raising an alternative to these cuts, instead of Osborne’s cosmetic tax cuts a serious campaign to recover the £120 in avoided and evaded tax each year, alongside a programme of taking into public ownership the banks so their wealth can be used to benefit all, not a minority. And with Labour councils locally continuing to make cuts, whilst Ed Miliband supports the public sector pay freeze, trade unionsists and other require a serious political voice to put forward the genuine opposition of working class people to all the cuts.