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Fightback: The People's Assembly

Monday 16th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Latest launches draw massive support in hard-hit north

Five hundred trade union and political activists packed out a Newcastle theatre on Saturday in another huge show of support for the growing People's Assembly Against Austerity movement.

The launch was mirrored further south in Yorkshire, where separate assemblies took place in Leeds and Sheffield in a signal of growing determination to resist austerity in the hard-hit north.

Chavs author and radical journalist Owen Jones dubbed the north-east assembly "the people's republic of Newcastle."

The assembly heard fighting speeches from northern trade union leaders.

There were workshops on building the fightback and support for an alternative economic strategy.

"We are here to build a national grass-roots movement," said Mr Jones. "We are saying enough is enough - and we are going to fight back.

"Let's go on the offensive. All our gains and rights are from struggle.

"Don't allow everything our predecessors fought for to be stripped away."

Northern TUC secretary Beth Farhat attacked the Tories for savaging public services and living standards and "now wanting to silence free speech" through the lobbying Bill.

"The People's Assembly is taking the campaign against austerity to a totally new level," she said.

"The TUC will support workers taking strike action right down the line."

Rail, Maritime and Transport union regional organiser Craig Johnston declared: "The whole ethos of a caring, compassionate society is being questioned by the political elite.

"We need to make the arguments for a living wage, real jobs, nationalisation, employment rights in the workplace and for trade union freedoms, equality and local democracy."

Unite regional secretary Karen Reay brought pledges of support for postal workers balloting on strike action over Royal Mail privatisation.

She also urged a massive turnout for the Save Our NHS demonstration in Manchester on September 29, when the Conservative Party conference begins there.

"We must stop the devastating attack on our past, our present and our children's future," she said.

"We have to believe in a society that places equality, dignity and respect for all above everything else.

"It is up to us to build a movement, a consensus for change."