(Saturday 15th March) Eight York delegates took part in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity’s delegate conference. Amidst the passionate and upbeat speeches were tributes to Tony Benn and Bob Crow, both founding signatories. In the motions debate, just about every aspect of austerity was covered. The conference ended with calls to back teaching and care-work strikes and build the national demonstration on 21st June.
“The sense of solidarity, anger and determination to fight back was overwhelming” wrote John W, one of the York People’s Assembly delegates. “For me, the most powerful speech in many respects came from Andy Squires of Unison on the Care UK strike in Doncaster. On a day of theoretical debate and rhetoric (inevitably – it was a conference after all) it was sobering to hear of real workers in real struggle making real sacrifices. His standing ovation was fully deserved. I spent some time on the picket line on Wednesday being inspired by their determination and solidarity. Andy admitted it was his first conference speech of any kind which made it all the more impressive.”
The Bedroom Tax and other social security attacks, were debated alongside unions and workplace rights. Early in the motions a big emphasis was placed on the need to nationalisation key resources, such as railways and energy companies. Later motions addressed the interactions between austerity and both climate change and global conflict. The final speaker, who moved the education motions, was National Union of Teachers leader Christine Blower, who implored us to stand with those who’s task is to educate a future generation.