Protests galore as Southampton demonstrates against the cuts

Posted on March 23, 2011 by

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Pissed off Southamptoners will be taking to the streets of Southampton and London over the next couple of days as protests against cuts from both local and national government kick off following the coalition’s budget announcement today.

At half 12 on Thursday 24th members of the Unite and UNISON unions for council workers will be assembling in Hoglands Park beforre marching (once again) on the Civic Centre for a rally.  Many council workers are angry about the changes to their contracts being forced through by the City Council by cancelling and remaking all existing contracts.

Cuts of up to 5.5% are being put through whilst inflation is soaring past 4%, putting many workers earning more than £17.5k cut-off in considerable difficulty.  Although the pay cuts have been scaled along the pay grades with higher earners losing more, workers are not best pleased that the Chief Executive (on £205, 920) and Executive officers (4 of which earning more than the Prime Minister) are facing 5.5% when the Secretary of State for local government recommended highly paid CEO’s sacrificing 20%.

As part of their campaign against the pay cuts and contract changes the unions are recommending that members refuse to cooperate with the sacking/rehiring process despite Council threats that anyone refusing will be sacked anyway (and attacks in their local Tory newsletters accusing the unions of intimidating their members and being militant).  Whether we have a mass-sacking on our hands in the near-future remains to be seen…

Also out on the streets on Thursday (or the campus, rather) will be members of UCU (Universities and Colleges Union), who are holding a one day strike along with universities across the country against changes to public sector pensions that will see them lose out considerably.  Lecturers and support staff will be out at on Highfield Campus at least, with pickets likely at other campuses too.

It only took 9 months for them to organise...To top it all off, Saturday will see the long-awaited for (having been called last summer…) TUC (Trade Union Congress)  ‘March for the Alternative’ in London.  With over 10 coaches going up from Southampton and many also making their way up by bus and train it’s likely that hundreds of Southamptoners will turn out for what’s expected to be the biggest demo in London since the Iraq War.

Whilst many will join the official TUC march past Parliament to Hyde Park (to then no doubt be enthralled by the likes of Ed Milliband and trade union officials), other groups are joining in as well from an education feeder march congregating at ULU at 10am (although we note that Southampton’s Student Unions have failed to get involved, but student groups will be going anyway) to UK Uncut actions shutting down Oxford Street tax-avoiders with bail-ins and stand-up comedy gigs.

The Saturday demo follows today’s budget from the coalition and independent data on the economy, both of which make clear that there’s plenty more pain for public services and people’s standard of living to come.  With the protests by Southamptoners coming thick and thin it seems that discontent at the cuts agenda is steadily growing here.

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Posted in: News, Southampton, Students, UK