Shadow chancellor Ed Balls insisted at the Usdaw national conference yesterday that the labour movement was "not down and out" in its fight against the Con-Dem cuts.
Mr Balls received three standing ovations as he promised to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the trade union movement in fighting the coalition. "We are determined to get this Tory-led government out and a Labour government in as soon as possible," he said. "In 1949 - in the face of national debt far higher than today - it was Nye Bevan who said the language of priorities is the religion of socialism. "Usdaw members in the private sector are being hit just as hard as public-sector workers. "This is why we need a Labour government. We need action now but in opposition we cannot deliver that."
Mr Balls backed Usdaw's campaign against deregulation of Sunday working and said it would be "shameful" if the Tories changed the law. He accused Prime Minister David Cameron of seeking to divide divide demonstrator and police - private-sector workers and public-sector workers. "We have to be clear that the private sector and public sector are united. "We have to get rid of this government at the earliest opportunity." Scottish division delegate Marina Sweeney asked: "How can we campaign against the Tory cuts and the harm they are doing to our members?" Mr Balls said the priority was organise "community by community, workplace by workplace - that's how we'll win."
He accused Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond of doing "nothing" to oppose the cuts. After Mr Balls's speech, east London retail branch delegate Richard Groves reminded conference of the TUC policy of "co-ordinated industrial action" to oppose the cuts and urged councillors to stand up and fight. "We need to work with other trade unions to make sure we are prepared," he said. Divisional councillor Pat Buttle added: "It's not enough to pass resolutions. We have to be on the streets."