"Up and down the UK people are starting to get organised…" Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union.
At the first public meeting for the Salford Against The Cuts campaign, over a hundred people heard speaker after speaker applauding the radical action taken by students recently, while placing the cause of the recession and deficits clearly at the door of the bankers and big business.
"A couple of years ago there was huge outrage over the deregulation of the financial sector but now the agenda has shifted away from the banks onto people they really want to have a go at, public sector workers…nurses, teachers, street cleaners…but the idea that these people caused the crisis is a lie" said Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union
Accepting that many people still believe that the country's deficit needs to be cut, he added that such opinions will change when the cuts hit them personally…"When it's your hospital, your school, your care home that is facing cuts. This is about destroying public services and it doesn't affect the rich because they don't use public services."
Matt argued that the real cause of the crisis was the bail out of the banks with £850billion of public money… "They took our money and gave it to the banks, this is their crisis and we shouldn't have to pay for it."
There was no need for any cuts at all, he explained, citing the £120billion that's sloshing around in uncollected tax, and called for a huge working class movement to stop "the Government finishing off what Thatcher started".
Sarah Davies, from the Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign, spoke about the devastating affect of shutting Hope Hospital's maternity unit and called on Salford's community to join the campaign on Wednesday morning in Manchester (see here for further details). Jane Warburton, a Salford public sector worker, called for a national campaign to give alternatives to the cuts. Communities should follow the nation's young people who are beginning to fight back, she argued.
From the floor of the meeting, UNISON rep Steve North called for a lobby of Salford Council's next meeting… "We expect councillors to fight not to accept these cuts" he said "We want Salford Council to take a stand."
He was disappointed as two senior councillors from the ruling Labour Council confirmed that this will not happen…
"We are going through all the proposals and there are no firm decisions yet but we won't not have any cuts" said David Lancaster, Deputy Leader of Salford Council.
He criticised the unfairness of the Government cuts, which will see a redistribution of `specific' grants going away from deprived areas like Salford, "back to the shires that they control".
Salford was facing a 14% cut in budget in the first year alone and, whereas under the Labour government the city was getting £20million in `specific' grants, Lancaster explained that now we'll be getting "£4million at max".
His points were echoed by former Council Leader, Bill Hinds, who said that Salford Council would support the fight against the cuts but we will not do anything illegal…
"We've got to balance the budget" he said "If we don't they'll just send someone else in to do it. At the minute, if you're asking the Labour Council not to implement the cuts the answer is `No'…We won't do an illegal budget."
Other speakers from the floor, including Independent councillors, also criticised the unfairness of the ConDem policies which, they said, are clearly targeted at the most deprived areas.
The meeting called for a mass movement of trade unionists and the community to fight the severity of the cuts…
"We can't afford to be picked off one at a time, we must all fight together" said Matt Wrack, recalling when 18millionpeople refused to pay the last Tory Government's Poll Tax
"We need to build a movement that will defeat the Government agenda and stop it dead in its tracks."