Article published: Friday, May 25th 2012
Trade unionists, campaign groups and community activists are holding a weekend of conferences, street parties and demonstrations across the city to tackle austerity, unemployment and the arms trade.
Saturday 26 May 11am – 3pm
Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester City Centre
The weekend will launch with unions and community groups joining forces in a conference to bring together people facing staggering levels of unemployment across Greater Manchester, explore alternatives to government austerity, and support and build on networks for representation and advice for jobless people across the city.
Unemployment in the region is up 15.3 per cent compared to this time last year, with the number of young people on the dole rising by 19.3 per cent. Long term unemployment has also increased by a massive 55.3 per cent since March 2011, despite claims by council-sponsored analysts that Greater Manchester “continues to grow in strength” thanks to the Premiership, the Olympics and overseas visitors bringing in millions to the city.
The free event aims to provide a better answer and tackle related problems such as food, housing, workfare, retirement and more. Speakers and facilitators include representatives of the trade union Unite, the North West Pensioners association, volunteers from Salford Unemployed Centre, activists from Manchester Against Cuts and Manchester Campaigns Collective, and Stretford MP Kate Green.
UK Uncut: Street Party for the Alternative
Saturday 26 May 2pm – 8pm
Market Street, Manchester City Centre
In the afternoon the anti-cuts activist network UK Uncut is holding an “alternative street party”, in order to “celebrate a people-led alternative to austerity measures in the UK”, as part of a national day of action in cities across the country.
In contrast to nostalgic celebrations of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, organisers say they want to hark back to the spirit of the 1948 founding of the NHS and hope to “invoke pride in our public services and highlight their decimation due to cuts.”
The themes of the party will include reclaiming public space from private control and bring together people against corporate tax-dodging. A local band and women’s choir, satirical poet Steph Pike, a “pop up library” and games including a “Clegg and spoon race” will provide entertainment.
Amnesty International and Oxfam: Action for a Bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty
Sunday 27 May 1pm – 3pm
St Ann’s Square, Manchester City Centre
Human rights campaigners from Amnesty and Oxfam are holding a street demonstration to put pressure on David Cameron’s government to push other governments into signing to an international treaty regulating the global arms trade.
Britain itself is one of the world’s major weapons exporters, and activists will gather in St Ann’s Square to build a mock graveyard and spontaneously “drop dead” in the city centre square to draw attention to the illegal trade in small arms.
Official UK government sources estimate armed violence causes the deaths of over 740,000 people each year, and organisers say the effects of the trade “are felt right here in Manchester” through gun crime and people seeking asylum due to threats to their lives abroad.
Amnesty supporter Mike Reed said he was angry at the “appalling violence against ordinary people all over the world”, pointing to the deaths of an estimated 6,500 peaceful protestors in Syria and the shooting of 23 year old student Anuj Bidve in Salford late last year. He added, “In the time it’s taken you to read this, two people will have died through armed violence and conflict.”
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