Thousands of trade unionists and protesters gathered in Liverpool to fight against austerity and public sector cuts in the city.
Recent cuts in the region as a result of central government measures mean the council has to manage savings worth £156 million over the next three years – hitting the city with a 58% reduction since 2011.
Trade union officials and activists assembled at the Pier Head on Saturday before marching through the town centre and gathering at St George’s Plateau to demonstrate against the issue further.
A running theme among angry protesters were the approved cuts in adult social care, children’s facilities, library services and leisure centres in the city, with Unite member Fiona Farmer claiming: “The Tories have never liked Liverpool.”
Socialist Worker member Laila Hasan, 42, told JMU Journalism: “I’m here opposing the austerity measures this government is imposing.
“It’s hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest in society. They’re trying to really shrink the welfare state and along with that make us work harder for less money.
“The cost of living is going up the whole time – things like transport, rent, the mortgage – all of that’s going up and we’re being squeezed. All of those things are making life a struggle.”
Glen Williams, Unison’s Sefton branch secretary, began the speeches, and also asked the crowd to pay tribute to rail union leader Bob Crow and former Labour politician Tony Benn, who both died this week.
He said: “Our country and our movement has lost two tremendous pillars this past week; two men who stood firm against unfairness and in defence of simple decency.
“Consistent, passionate, honest and dedicated to their members and their constituents, both are a sad and tragic loss and I ask you to join us in a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to all that both men did to improve the lives of ordinary, working people.”
As other speakers were introduced, Benn and Crow remained a constant theme throughout – with crowds cheering and clapping when their names were mentioned.
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unison and Unite were some of the unions gathered at the rally, with banners and balloons held aloft.
Rena Wood, 54, joint Deputy Convenor of Unison North West, told JMU Journalism: “I think it’s really significant and important that we tell this government we know that they have disproportionately cut the money that we need for the city – it’s immoral and it’s wrong.”