Unions support “alternative democratic forum to Parliament”

Tim Lezard

#Oct20 austerity placardTrade unions are today backing a new anti-austerity initiative described as a “alternative democratic forum to Parliament.”

(Pictured: #Oct20 protesters. London, October 2012)

The People’s Assembly, supported by Aslef, CWU, NUJ, NUT, PCS, RMT TSSA, UNISON and Unite, aims to ensure the government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful co-ordinated action, including strike action.

The new movement will be forcing anti-austerity politics onto the mainstream agenda, and fighting for all those people currently hit by government policies: whether low-paid workers, disabled people, unemployed people, the young, women, BME people and others.

Unite executive director of policy Steve Turner said: “For the last three years this government has exploited the global financial crisis to carry out an extreme ideological attack on everything that we hold dear in this country – our NHS, our welfare state, our public services.

“The Tory-led agenda of austerity and spending cuts coupled with further privatisation of key services has proven to be an economic failure with borrowing up, key industries collapsing and living standards depleted. George Osborne’s response to his own failure is more of the same.

“In the face of this onslaught we need unity and solidarity. Whether it’s communities campaigning against the privatisation of their local NHS services, mass marches against austerity or industrial action against bad employers we must join together to build a powerful campaign against this government and in favour of an alternative.

“Unite backs calls for a mass movement against the cuts and is supporting the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Only by providing genuine popular opposition rooted across the country can we hope to bring to an end to this Coalition’s reckless slash and burn policies.”

Comedian Mark Steel said: “If you’ve ever yelled at the television while George Osborne is on, or fumed at how the poor are made to pay for the mess created by the bankers, sign up to the People’s Assembly. Then we can all tell and fume together, and that’s how the world gets changed.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “This Tory-led government’s failed austerity drive and its shameful attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable are devastating the economy and destroying our social fabric.  With the worst of the cuts to welfare and public services still to come, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to unite against this reckless administration and expose the lie that there is no alternative to cuts.  Now is the time to take a stand alongside the millions of anti-austerity campaigners across Europe – and ask ourselves what kind of society we want to create for ourselves and for our children.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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