Local campaigners, workers and trade unionists came together on the 28th April to hear speakers from different sectors speak out against the cuts, and unanimously resolve to oppose them as well as resist privatisation in Cornwall.
Around 50 attended the meeting – and it most certainly was not a ‘same-old-faces’ event.
Stuart Fegan, the senior organiser at GMB in Plymouth, came down to talk about the general attacks on working-people, and gave his solidarity from the Anti-Cuts Alliances in Devon (Torbay, Exeter and North Devon). From further afield was Steve Ryan, a PCS group secretary who travelled from Wales to speak about the biggest cuts since the 1930s, and speak about the positive alternatives to public sector axing – clamping down on tax dodging, taxing the rich more, scrapping Trident and withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Education was a key theme as it faces some of the largest cuts in Cornwall. 31 schools have confirmed redundancies for this year, while many are being forced to become Academies over funding fears, taking them out of local authority control.
One particularly uplifting theme was that of support for those who are going on strike over the slashing of pensions and jobs in colleges, schools and universities. The NUT will be striking on June 30th, and other unions are considering strike action; ATL, PCS and the UCU. In total potentially more than 10,000 could strike in Cornwall on that day if the ballots are successful.
I spoke about how Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance was founded, and the anger of students over the Lib Dem betrayal. Further Education faces 25% cuts so is particularly at risk from these cuts. Cornwall is obviously already a deprived area, making the scrapping of EMA, tripling of uni fees, abolition of the Aim Higher scheme and huge rises in transport costs brutal.
Surprisingly, calls for a general strike were welcomed, but the GMB Rep made clear it had to be part of a rolling campaign in order to be successful. March the 26th inspired thousands to take the campaign back to their hometowns.
We’ve seen positive developments over the past few months. A new anti-cuts group has just been founded (Liskeard Against The Cuts leaflet) linked to the main Cornwall-wide group. An NHS action is planned for Truro on the 14th May. The day before will see Camelford’s first UK Uncut action on Nat West. And there’s plenty more on the way from Cornwall ACA, with new unions affiliating all the time. The meeting was a great official start and has brought in fresh momentum.
Here are the resolutions and mission statement passed by the meeting –
It is proposed that everyone at this meeting:
Condemns the cuts as unnecessary, regressive and unfair
Will campaign to protest public services and jobs
Urges the government to crack down on tax dodging by the rich and to invest in job creation
Calls on the government to stop the privatisation of vital services, including the NHS and the Post Office
Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance pledges to oppose and campaign against the cuts in our work places, through our trade unions and in alliance with other trade unions. We support those taking industrial action against the cuts and will offer help and solidarity to those involved. We will seek to build partnerships between community organisations and unions in Cornwall to strengthen our community’s fight against the cuts and loss of public services including the NHS.
Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance will expand its campaigning by building local committees in as many towns as possible to support local resistance and put maximum pressure on Cornwall’s MPs and councillors to oppose government cuts.
We will campaign, march, rally and protest in our communities, in public, and in all places where we can get our message across – that the profiteers and tax dodgers should pay for the crisis they created, not the ordinary people who are being made to suffer.