date: 22 October 2010
embargo: 00.01hrs Saturday 23 October 2010
Speaking at a union event in London later today (Saturday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will announce that the date of the TUC national demonstration against the cuts will be in Hyde Park in the Spring, on Saturday 26 March 2011.
Addressing the Greater London Association of Trades Councils' 150th Celebration Conference at Congress House, Brendan Barber will say that the unions are now at the heart of a powerful, progressive coalition against the cuts, bringing together service users, charities and community groups.
Brendan Barber will say: 'The union movement and the country face the sternest test in a generation. Not only is the economy on its knees, not only is the law tilted against us, but we have a government in power that is making spending cuts of a speed, scale and savagery never before seen.
'On Wednesday we saw half a million public servants condemned to life on the dole, higher education funding cut by 40 per cent, the education maintenance allowance for 16-19 year olds scrapped and local authorities compelled to slash services for the vulnerable.
'The spending review also dealt council housing a devastating blow, forced tenants to pay sky high rents, cut £350 million from legal aid, and hiked train fares well above inflation.
'As if all that wasn't bad enough, our welfare state is about to be ripped apart as a colossal £18 billion of cuts take hold. Universal child benefit axed, with 1.5 million children losing out, employment support allowance time limited for many, working tax credit frozen, childcare support for low-income families slashed, the value of pensions trimmed year on year and people having to work longer in return for less.
'And the bankers who caused this mess will not be affected at all because the pathetically small banking levy will leave them popping the champagne corks right across the square mile.
'The impact of this brutal, ideological and cripplingly unfair austerity will be truly devastating. Not just on the services that millions rely on nor on the lives and livelihoods of so many dedicated public servants, but on the very glue that holds our complex, diverse and multicultural society together.
'Make no mistake, when these unprecedented cuts go ahead, Britain will emerge a very different place. Less civilised, less tolerant, less equal and a country where those with privilege and wealth will get by just fine - as they always do.
'It will be a country where everyone else struggles to get by, stripped of opportunity, hope and dignity by a government which does not care, in an economy that won't be able to pay.
'We know from bitter experience who will be in the firing line. It will be the working-class communities marginalised by the decline of social mobility, the women who disproportionately use and provide our key public services and the black people who continue to get such a raw deal in our society. So too will it be the young people who suffered so grievously during the recession and the OAPs who depend on the care homes, meals on wheels and support services now being quietly slashed across Britain.
'When this government tells us we're all in this together, that austerity is in the national interest and that these cuts are fair, let us expose this for the insulting, misleading claptrap that it is.
'When huge cuts take place, those at the very bottom pay the heaviest price. That's what a new TUC study has discovered, showing that the bottom 10 per cent will be hit 15 times harder by the spending review than the top 10 per cent. When
spending is slashed, inequality widens and the poor get poorer. That's what the OECD found when it investigated Sweden's and Canada's cuts in the 1990s.
'The measures that the government has announced are clearly regressive. That's what the independent, respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said about the emergency budget in June and about the spending review last week. The evidence is overwhelming and it is indisputable, these savage cuts will devastate the poorest, the most disadvantaged and the most vulnerable.
'This is simply not acceptable. It's up to all of us who believe in a decent, compassionate, civilised society not just to speak out against the cuts, but to fight for our public services and the values they represent. That's why the TUC launched the All Together for Public Services campaign at Congress.
'So now we'll be taking our message to ordinary men and women, encouraging them to get involved in our campaign against the cuts. On Tuesday, the TUC held a successful rally and lobby of parliament, bringing together unions and organisations such as Crisis and the Child Poverty Action Group.
'On Wednesday, to coincide with the spending review, unions held protests from Plymouth in the south to Newcastle in the north. Today, demonstrations are taking place in Cambridge, Bristol, Sheffield, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Lincoln and London.
'So let's start campaigning and mobilising for our national demonstration against the cuts next Spring in London's Hyde Park on Saturday 26 March. Together let's make that mobilisation the biggest, boldest and best event in our history.'
NOTES TO EDITORS:
-Brendan Barber is speaking at 2.15pm on Saturday 23 October at the conference, which takes place at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS
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Issued: 23 October, 2010