11 March 2013
On Saturday, 9 march around 150 trade unionists and community activists came together to launch UtR in Scotland. On a cold blustery day they came from all over the country to show their anger at the Tories attacks on the continued assault on wages, jobs and the impact of the Bedroom tax and Universal Credit on some of the most deprived communities in the UK.
The opening session was led by Sasha Callaghan from Disability History, Scotland who launched an attack on the Tories broken promises of expanding provision for the disabled.
She said, that they reneged because we let them away with it and we cannot let that continue. “Universal Credit is the bastard child of Ian Duncan Smith and the Tories, government driven by fear and hatred of our class. “
It’s usual when community groups and trade unions and community groups come together to talk of the anger that permeates discussions of this Tory government. But, in the first workshop of the morning session, entitled ‘Strivers and Skivers’, the anger was organic to an extent that you could taste it in the blue air of heated presentations and contributions from the floor.
As each speaker outlined the impact of the “train crash” this April of Universal Credit and the Bedroom Tax, the real meaning of the affect of the cuts to the income of the poorest in society took on new dimensions. Dimensions, not of only of the depth of anger but a real determination to fight back.
Each speaker from the communities ravaged by years of poverty told their stories in real and vivid detail. Ann Lynch, a community activist from Clydebank, told the meeting how she had already spoke at meetings all over Glasgow, including one of 200 at Parkhead, in the East End of Glasgow. The next on the hit list is West Dumbarton Council.
While all this should scare the Tories and the Labour/SNP councils who have refused to implement a policy of no evictions for tenants who can’t and wont pay, the real ‘scary stuff’ for them is the fact that these meetings have been organised by the victims themselves. No political party or radical group initiated this fightback, just the people who have suffered most from these iniquitous attack on their poverty ravaged communities.
A very loud message has been sent to the Tories from this UtR conference. From community activists like Ann who said, “this isn’t just about the Bedroom Tax, this is about every aspect of the poverty that we have been subjected to. We wont take anymore”
What was the main vein that ran through this conference was the linking up of the fight in the communities with the fight against the attacks on jobs, pay and pensions. John McInally, National Vice president on PCS lambasted the Tories austerity measure as nothing more than an ideological attack on all the gains made through past struggle, nothing more than attempt to, “push through a fundamental shift in wealth and power to the business class itself”.
Referring to his own membership in the DWP he outlined the fact that not only will Universal Credit attack the unemployed but, “40% of PCS workers who will be delivering the new Universal Credit regulations will themselves be affected by its implementation.”
Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU (Bakers Union) emphasised the joint struggle in the communities and the unions by calling for a coordinated fightback against the Tories austerity measures.
New Labour, he said, “Is nothing more than another shade of blue which offered no answer to any of the worst effects of the Tories. ATOS, fuel poverty, and the downward push on wages and conditions can only be defeated when the communities and the organised workers take on the Tories and their banker friends together.”