I have spent most of this week at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester. Some people say that it rains most of the time in Manchester: well they are wrong! I am here to tell you that it doesn’tÂ rain most of the time, as it actually rainsÂ all the time!
Manchester is the birthplace of the Trade Union Congress, first held in 1868 at the Mechanics Institute. 34 people sat around the table at that time and founded the first ever organisation for Trade Union solidarity in the world.
It is also the place of the infamous Peterloo Massacre in 1819, when cavalry of the Duke of Wellington’s troops viciously, and violently, charged through, and broke up, a peaceful protest by thousands of unarmed working people after receiving the order from the local magistrate.
The peopleÂ were gathered in St. Peter’s Fields to listen to Henry Hunt, a Radical orator, speaking on the need for social and political reform, including the call for votes.
The cavalry were ordered to break it up and at the end of the day, 15 peopleÂ lay dead, and 600 injured.
The press at the time mocked Wellington and his troops and contrasted his recentÂ famous victory at Waterloo with this cold blooded murder of innocent men, women and children on St. Peter’s Field. Hence the term Peterloo.
In fact the hotel I stayed at is built on the site of St. Peter’s Field. A strange and spooky experience as, in the hotel room,Â you can almost feel the razor sharp rapiers of Wellington’s cavalry goingÂ straight throughÂ your back.
Either that, or I was having a dream about the LAS!
There is talk of at least 150,000 job losses within the NHS if the Coalition government get their way. How will that help? How will putting 150,000 health workers on the dole and benefits,Â Â save the economy or help reduceÂ the deficit?
Unison is not against betterÂ efficiency or saving money by reducing waste, but we are totally opposed to this wholesale political attack against the welfare system in general, and the public services in particular.
The Tories inbred hatred of all things public has manifested itself, with the help of the spineless Lib-Dem leadership, into the deceitful catch-phrase ofÂ ‘we are all in it together’ as the Coalition cabinet (out of which 18 of theÂ 23 are millionaires) preside over the politically motivatedÂ dismantling of the welfare state.
A welfare state that is vital for all working people and their families. A welfare state that was not freely given, but was fought for. A welfare state that is not needed or used by the millionaires in the government.
As one delegate said at the TUCÂ “Don’t talk about ‘we are all in it together’ until you put our children on the same equal footing as your children!”
This is not Coalition, but Demolition.
Public sector unions haveÂ vowed to fight these attacks on working people with a co-ordinated national campaign.
This will includeÂ a lobby of MPs atÂ Parliament on October 19th, the dayÂ before theÂ ComprehensiveÂ Spending Review announcement, and the campaign thenÂ will buildÂ towards a national demonstration in March 2011.
In between October and next March there will be local and national events which I will keep everyone up to date. These cuts have to be fought and stopped.
There is another way. There is an alternative.