Leeds unions unite to fight cuts

Submitted by Matthew on 23 September, 2010 - 10:08 Author: Patrick Murphy, Leeds NUT

At a well-attended meeting in September Leeds Trades Council launched a Leeds Against the Cuts campaign. Delegates from Unison, PCS, NUT, CWU and Unite were present at the first meeting.

Two events have been organised around the comprehensive spending review in October.

At 5pm on October 20th trade unionists will leaflet people in the town centre leaving work to let them know what the spending review announcements mean for them and what they can do to resist them. Local reps from public sector unions will also hold a press conference to give our response. A bigger public demonstration against the cuts and in defence of public services is planned for Saturday 23 October outside the Leeds Art Gallery.

Like many other anti-cuts committees Leeds Against the Cuts has debated a number of issues. It has discussed how to relate to regional and national TUC initiatives and to what extent to invite Labour politicians to our events.

For now the general consensus is to plan and organise local protests and involve more local workers and communities rather than look to the TUC for a lead. Where the regional or national TUC call mobilisations which fit into this priority we will focus on them.

For instance on 23 October the Yorkshire Midlands TUC have called a regional rally in Sheffield. The Leeds campaign was unanimous, however, in deciding that we would involve more people in our work by going ahead with a local rally.

There has been little contention also about inviting Labour politicians, including the leader of the newly-elected Labour council, to speak at the October events. Local Labour leaders have indicated that they want to work together with unions on opposing the cuts. Few of us have any confidence that this stance will stand the test of time but for now we want to test their resolve and, more importantly, draw Labour Party members, supporters and affiliated unions into a broad anti-cuts campaign.