Campaigners unite to tackle austerity

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Campaigners at Merseyside Unite against Cuts and Austerity. Pic © Old Swan Against the Cuts

Unions and community action groups gathered at Liverpool’s Quaker Meeting House to discuss how to act against cuts to local services.

The weekend conference, ‘Merseyside Unite against Cuts and Austerity’, brought together a range of groups to form strategies on how best tackle a range of issues, from protecting the city’s libraries, to healthcare cuts.

While a number of the groups involved disagree on some issues, they are all in agreement on their opposition to austerity, and Martin Ralph from Old Swan Against the Cuts is hopeful this can provide the catalyst to a successful campaign against the slashing of funding to local services.

Speaking to JMU Journalism, he said: “Although the Liverpool TUC has played a part in organising, we’ve worked in a very collective, democratic manner.

“We’ve organised at different union branches, with the UCU from Liverpool University, Liverpool against the Cuts, Old Swan against the Cuts and many more.

“We are all against the local implementation of Austerity, the council cuts, the of guards on trains, the cuts in local services like fire engines and firefighters and so on. In many, many ways, that provides the basis of the necessity for all the Union members, Union organisations and community action groups to fight together.”

YouTube: JMU Journalism

Mr Ralph was also keen to stress the importance of moving beyond the conference room to put pressure on the council to join the fight against the cuts from central government too. He told JMU Journalism: “We want action and mobilisation. Last Wednesday, we called for a protest outside Liverpool City Council, that had agreed to make £90m worth of cuts.

“We didn’t know how many people we’d get. Last time we did it we got maybe 15 people, but this time we got 150 or maybe more.

“I think people are beginning to wake up to the reality of these cuts and I think you do get a feel that the movement is going to start again because people have no choice.

“We think there is an alternative and that these councils should call for mobilisations against austerity and against the Tory government, and they’re not doing that.”