December 10 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 30, 2013
A “people’s assembly” was held in King’s Lynn in opposition to public-spending cuts.
About 100 people gathered at St Nicholas Chapel to hear big-name speakers, such as the newspaper columnist and television personality Owen Jones, urge them to “build a grassroots movement” against reductions to public services in west Norfolk.
Jo Rust, who helped organise the rally, said she had done so “not for die-hard protestors” but for those not in political parties or trade unions who wanted to express how cutbacks might affect them.
“It’s about people having an avenue to express their anger,” she said.
“There are a lot of people who are uncertain and angry about what is happening and a people’s assembly is an ideal way for them to express their discontent.”
During the event Mr Jones, who wrote the bestselling book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, told the assembled audience that they were “part of a national movement that is standing up to power”.
In particular he said the group should be campaigning for all workers to be paid a “living wage” and said there should be an end to controversial zero-hours contracts, where employees are paid only for the time they work and are never guaranteed any hours.
“This is one of the longest economic crises in the history of this country,” he said.
“Our job is to go out and give people hope there is an alternative.”
Other speakers included Steve Sweeney, a former NHS worker and regional organiser for the GMB union who has campaigned against health-service cuts in Cambridgeshire.
“Events like this one can play a crucial role in drawing these campaigns together,” Mr Sweeney said.
Kathy Saunders, vice-chairman of the Norfolk-based charity Equal Lives, also spoke about the impact of cuts on disabled people.
She said: “I’m encouraged by the people’s assembly and that you can put your strength together to make society a fairer place to live.”
Downham Market resident Richard Murphy, who founded the Tax Justice Network and campaigns on poverty and tax issues, added: “Our job is to go out and persuade people in Norfolk that this is the way we must go.”
The people’s assembly will now hold an organising meeting at the Friends’ Meeting House in Bridge Street, King’s Lynn, at 7pm on October 9, where people are encouraged to attend to contribute their ideas about what the organisation should campaign on.