Over 300 trade unionists, students and community organisers marched through the centre of Portsmouth on Saturday in support of city council workers who face losing their jobs as the government’s cuts agenda begins to bite.
The march, organised by Portsmouth Against the Cuts Together (PACT) began at the University Library before passing through the centre of town and ending with a rally outside the city’s civic offices.
“We are marching in solidarity with the 400 council workers who face losing their jobs is a direct result of the government’s austerity plans,” Socialist Party member Andy Waterman told BBC radio. “Students in this city are already fighting to defend their education and the crucial thing now is to unite these two movements to defeat the cuts.”
PACT has called a lobby of the Council’s budget setting meeting at 1.30pm on the 8th February at the Civic offices where campaigners will demand that councillors refuse to vote for cuts passed down by central government.
While the march, the first large event organised by PACT since its official launch in late November, was a success it is clear that marching and lobbying alone will not defeat these cuts.
PACT is a community group supported by the Trades Council with a clear mandate to oppose all cuts. To develop the campaign PACT must work alongside the city’s trade union members, particularly council workers, to support a strategy of industrial action.
PACTs strength is its ability to unite the local anti-cuts movement under a clear banner against all cuts. Yet as the May elections draws nearer it must be made clear that the anti-cuts movement is not simply a proxy support group for the pro-cuts Labour Party, it is a campaign for uniting working people, students and pensioners to defeat the cuts and save our community.