A few people who couldn’t make it to the rally asked what I said, so I’ve roughly typed it up here…
“Good morning comrades, thank you for listening and thank you for coming out today. In my day job I teach Government and Politics and I’m really proud that some of my students are here today- what better political education than refusing to cross a picket line and coming to an event like this.
Its not been an easy decision for anyone to go on strike today- we lose pay, we come under strain from our managers and we are attacked by the government and media. But we’re here.
These are troubling times for us in the public sector but these are also exciting times as everyone here and the up to 2 million of us across the country have proved.
As a child I was always taught to stand up to bullies. A girl from round the corner used to call me names until the day I punched her in the face! Cameron, Clegg, Osborne, Lansley, Gove…. this is your bloody nose! You’ve tried to scare us but this week my union UCU has processed three times its normal rate of applications. We teach this country’s children, we look after this country’s sick, we keep this country going and we will not be bullied into poverty. We will not roll over and listen to you talk about the squeezed middle when it is you who are turning the vice.
In Further Education, where I and my members work, we are under considerable pressure. We’ve had the pay freeze, we’ve had our funding cut, our students are suffering through losing their EMA and are wondering why to bother with college when they can’t afford to go to university anyway, redundancies are on the cards. Like in every other area of the public sector its the most vulnerable who are being hit hardest- women, part time and hourly paid staff, people with disabilities, caring responsibilities. The government tells us we’re all in it together, and they’re right WE are all in this together. Not them with their trust funds and banker mates. As the new worldwide slogan goes ‘We are the 99%’… the 1% might have the money but we have the power.
So where do we go from here? Comrades, we need to take the energy of today forwards, keep up the pressure. Spread the world amongst your colleagues, friends, family, neighbours. Get involved with Dudley Trades Union Council and Dudley Coalition Against the Cuts.
I’d like to finish with a chant, “No ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts”….”