30 left-wing activists, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners gathered in Newcastle on Wednesday, to launch a new campaign opposing cuts to welfare and public services.
At the public event in Newcastle city centre - initiated by Tyne and Wear Left Unity and North East Shop Stewards Network - they announced plans for a major local protest to greet the emergency budget on 22 June.
Vicki is chair of the Keep Metro Public campaign. She told Counterfire: "Over the last 2 years we have campaigned to stop a private corporation creaming off profits from local people's travel. A Labour government initiated this, but with support from Tory and Lib Dem councillors, indifferent to any sense of public accountability."
Several students involved in a campaign to halt higher education cuts, announced by the last Government, joined the protest.
David is a student at Newcastle University. He said: "It's appalling that they are introducing these swingeing cuts to our services, without offering any suggestion of an alternative, even on the level of collecting taxes already owed by the rich. We can't let them make us pay for the crisis of their system."
Many public sector trade unionists fear more savage cuts to come. The North East region is expected to be hit hard.
Spencer, a PCS civil servants' union activist in Newcastle, said: "It's time for the left to mobilise people and come together against a common enemy - the cuts. The only people who can't afford to pick up the pieces are now being made to do just that - instead of the moneyed elites who caused this crisis."
Protestors wanted to express solidarity with all those already resisting cuts, including the people of Greece.
Mike, a campaigner with Sunderland Welfare Action Group, said: "Greece may be a long way away, but we need people to know its crisis is linked with failures here and globally. We should all be inspired by the people of Greece, showing their fighting spirit against a profiteering financial elite.'
The call is going out to build a big, broad and united demonstration on 22 June. Assemble from 4.30pm at Grey's Monument, Newcastle. Union branches and organisations interested in supporting the protest should contact: [email protected]
Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.
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