UNITE: Tony Woodley tours UK to rally workers against the cuts

The joint general secretary of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, is to tour the UK to take the case against the cuts to the union’s one and a half million members.

Tony Woodley embarks on his regional tour the day after George Osborne unveiled the harshest cuts to public services in living memory, accusing the government of being too cowardly to come clean on the real depth of the cuts.

And Tony Woodley also attacked today’s derisory levy on banks – just 0.04% – as another slap in the face for working people who will pay most heavily in the cuts.

Over the next three weeks, Tony Woodley will tour the length and breadth of the country to hear workers’ views on how the cuts will hit their jobs and communities. His tour begins in Birmingham today, Thursday, and will finish in Scotland in November.

As he took to the road, Tony Woodley said: “Yesterday, the coalition tore into our public services, hacking into the health, education and council services that hold this country together.

“The sight of George Osborne being congratulated by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, cheered on by Tories and Lib Dem MPs, will have revolted anyone who has a care for the sick and vulnerable in this country, and will terrify people who live beyond the Westminster village.

“As the true extent of these cuts – not the £81 billion Osborne is cowardly hiding behind but actually a colossal £145 billion – is revealed, anger will build.

“It won’t be the leafy stockbroker belt that feels this pain – it will be my members trying to raise their families in the communities of the country that this government has just set about destroying. The Coalition has no mandate for the assassination of our services – and for those that voted LibDem, this is nothing short of a betrayal.

“Osborne and Cameron’s claim that they have no choice is a bare-faced lie. They have talked this country down from the moment they took office when the truth is that we are not facing the economic Armageddon they are scaring people with. Like a pair of Halloween ghouls, they have frightened people so they can force through a vicious, ideological attack on social provision because they don’t believe it matters in a civilised society.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. A government for everyone in this country would strain every sinew to prevent pain this deep with a strategy that delivers a fair and progressive taxation policy. The pathetically low on levy on banks – 0.04% – is just another slap in the face for working people. They suffer for the mess these banks made while those that caused it literally laugh all the way to the banks. And how will throwing millions onto the dole and a life on benefits close the deficit?

“Believe me, when the penny drops and people realise that the schools, hospitals and social services they built and paid for through hard graft and taxes are being destroyed by a political elite, rage will boil.”

Unite believes the true extent of the cuts will be to take a massive £145 billion from the economy. This is based on the government’s statement in the June budget that they will cut total managed expenditure by 7.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over six years. This amounts to cuts of £108 billion but as total managed expenditure also includes debt interest payments, this adds another £36.6 billion over the six years. That means the spending on services, benefits and jobs will be cut in real terms by £145 billion.

Tony Woodley will be urging workers to see through the Coalition’s sleight of hands warning:

* £18 billion in benefit cuts will be paid for by taking £1000 from 18 million households that depend on housing benefit, council tax benefit, tax credits and “sickness” benefit to support their household budgets
* Local councils are going to lose more than a quarter of their budgets (28%) over the next four years, meaning whole areas of services will stop being delivered, with labour intensive care services most at risk
* 500,000 public sector job losses and 600,000-700,000 private sector job losses at least will go; unemployment will reach 4.6 million by 2011
* NHS and the welfare budget cuts are deeply regressive as the poor and low waged depend on them most heavily
* Education spending “rises” of 1.1% are actually a real terms cut (inflation is running at above 5%)

Region by region: TONY WOODLEY’S ANTI-CUTS CAMPAIGN TOUR

Thursday 21 October Birmingham 12:00 noon
Legends Lounge
St Andrews Stadium
St Andrews Road
Birmingham, B9 4RL
Please call Gerard Coyne on 07711.082890

Thursday 21 October, Liverpool 6:30 pm for 7:00 pm
Adelphi Hotel
Ranelagh Place
Liverpool, L3 5UL
Please call Paul Finegan 07818.416562

Friday 22 October North Wales Shotton 1:00 pm
Corus Sports Club
Rowleys Drive
Shotton, CH5 1PU
Please call Peter Hughes 07990.941005

Monday 25 October Northern Ireland Belfast 10:00 am
Wellington Park Hotel
21 Malone Road
Belfast BT9 6RW
Please call Jimmy Kelly on 00 353 879 003217

Tuesday 26 October South East Portsmouth 2:00 pm
Co-operative Club
83/87 Kingston Road
Portsmouth PO2 7DX
Please call Ian Woodland on 07770.704480

Wednesday 27 October South West Bristol 2:00 pm
The Future Inns Hotel
Bond Street South
Bristol BS1 3EN
Please call Laurence Faircloth on 07958.624146

Thursday 28 October South Wales Cardiff 12:00 noon
Unite Regional Office
1 Cathedral Road
Cardiff CF11 9SD
Please call Andy Richards on 07970 785470

Tuesday 2 November East Midlands Derby 7:00 pm
Hallmark Hotel
Midland Road
Derby DE1 2SQ
Please call Adrian Axtell 07958.624668

Wednesday 3 November Yorkshire & Humber Leeds 7:00 pm
Leeds Civic Hall
Millennium Square
Leeds LS1 1UR
Please call Davey Hall 07802 912735

Thursday 4 November North East Gateshead 7:00 pm
Gateshead Civic Centre
Regent Street
Gateshead NE8 1HH
Please call Davey Hall 07802912735

Tony will also be visiting Scotland in the week of November 8th, venue to be confirmed.

ENDS

For further information, please contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861