Liverpool TUC hosts mass rally against the cuts at The Green Room, 11 February 2011
With the government ramming through its cuts and with the city’s Labour Council implementing those cuts as well as a first wave of 1500 job cuts from its workforce Liverpool Trades Union Council held a public meeting on Thursday 10 February to put the case for a fight back.
Over 400 people packed into The Green Room club on Duke Street while another 70 were unable to get in because the venue was packed to capacity. This was the biggest meeting in Liverpool since the early days of the Stop the War campaign.
On the platform Ricky Tomlinson, actor, comedian and jailed Shrewsbury building worker picket exposed the state conspiracy that had locked him and other building workers away in the 1970s on trumped up charges.
A young student, Lizzie O’Rourke, put the case for free education eloquently, while Sam Spryke from the lecturers’ union UCU demonstrated the link between the students fight and that currently being waged against cuts and sackings at the city’s Hope University.
Tony Mulhearn, one of the surcharged Liverpool councillors from the 1980s made the point that if the councillors back then were prepared to risk all in the fight to defend workers’ interests it was entirely possible for today’s Labour council to do the same now. He said that the council needed to withdraw its proposed cuts or face a mighty wave of opposition from the city’s working class.
Emily Kelly from the civil service union the PCS highlighted the lies about the deficit, the alternative to cuts and her union’s commitment to a campaign of co-ordinated action to fight them. Film director Ken Loach went through the real detail of the cuts, the devastating impact they would have on the working class and raised the alternative to accepting them – unity of the working class in a campaign of industrial action to defeat every cut back.
Mark Hoskisson, Secretary of Liverpool Trades Union Council, said the size of the meeting reflected the extent of opposition to the cuts – from either the Con Dem government or the Labour Council – and re-affirmed the Trades Council’s commitment to promoting, co-ordinating and organising a campaign of mass action to stop them. If the TUC won’t act, he said, let them get out of the way because the Liverpool TUC will.
People were soon queuing for affiliation forms to join the Trades Council.
Debate from the floor followed and a number of speakers from the audience were able to address the meeting and pose the question to Joe Anderson, the Labour Council leader who had attended the meeting, that if cuts from Cameron are wrong then surely 1500 redundancies from Labour were wrong too.
The meeting closed with a pledge to call on the unions to use the 26 March TUC demo as a springboard to further action including a public sector wide strike. It also began organising for a lobby of the council meeting planned to discuss the cuts on 2 March, 4.30pm, Liverpool Town Hall.
Liverpool TUC President Daren Ireland said, “It is difficult to convey in words the full significance of this meeting and its atmosphere of anger and defiance. It was huge. It was militant and it drew in a new generation of activists as well as revitalising many who hadn’t been at a meeting or demo for years. It also left Joe Anderson in no doubt at all that the fight is on and it is now time for him and his council to choose sides. The fight is on.”