PCS South West regional secretary James Davies explains why our members are supporting an anti-cuts demonstration in Bristol on Saturday (9).
This Saturday PCS is supporting the ‘Bristol march to end austerity – Fund our city!’ demonstration.
We are encouraging all of our members in Bristol and beyond to meet up under the PCS South West regional banner at 11.45am in College Green, on Saturday (9 September).
Bristol mayor, Marvin Rees has called a march and rally, backed by a wide coalition of organisations led by Bristol People's Assembly, to demand that the Tory government give Bristol and other cities the funding they need for public services and stop the cuts that are damaging so many lives.
The march will begin at College Green at noon and return to the same location later for a rally with speakers including Marvin Rees, the journalist and campaigner Owen Jones, and joint general secretary of the new National Education Union Kevin Courtney.
The unions’ bloc is just one of several that will be joining the march, including ones for education, health, libraries and a disabled bloc.
Massive appetite for alternative
The general election and polls since have shown there is a massive appetite from the public for an alternative to the Conservative government’s failed policies of austerity.
PCS is leading calls at next week’s TUC Congress for all public sector unions to unite to defeat the 1% public sector pay cap. The government is facing increasing pressure to scrap the pay cap, which has seen civil service pay fall by between £2,000 and £3,500 in real terms from 2010 to 2016.
The government’s claim that there has to be a trade-off between jobs and pay sounds particularly hollow to our members, with over 100,000 civil service jobs being lost since 2010, the south west region being the hardest hit by these cuts. A million jobs overall have been cut in the public sector since 2010.
The prime minister attempts to claim that she is on the side of ordinary working people, rather than being in the pockets of the wealthy elite, also seem empty. Her government is offering £70 billion to the wealthy in tax breaks over five years, even as it burdens Bristol City Council with cuts to public services totalling £104 million by 2022.
Expecting the public to choose from the scraps of the bare-bones essential services available to them, is not what people in one of the world’s richest countries should be expected to do. Our message is clear; whether it’s an A&E, a library, a school crossing or a social care service, the public have a right to expect these services in a modern, civilised society.
It is the state’s basic duty to provide such services, and attempts to deliver them for profit through privatisation reduces democracy and always puts the interests of the public a long way second to company shareholders.
It is encouraging then that the Bristol mayor is taking the fight to Westminster and has called this demonstration to campaign for better funding.
Our message is getting through, only this week the Labour party pledged to hire more HMRC staff to claw back £36bn from tax dodgers.
This event, and a similar event taking place in Cardiff this Saturday, give PCS members the opportunity to join together with other trade unionists and campaigners, to demonstrate in our thousands that we demand an alternative to austerity.
For more information or to let us know you will be joining us, contact the PCS South West regional office.