The second Action Against Austerity conference is this Sunday, 3rd April (11am-5pm, Fred Paton Centre, Glasgow).
Here’s an interview we did earlier with one of the organisers, fellow Wobbly Andy Duncan, about the network, Dundee Against Austerity and his thoughts on how we can more effectively fight the cuts in 2016.
Can you tell us about Dundee Against Austerity: who’s involved and what have you been up to in Dundee?
Dundee Against Austerity, evolved from Dundee Against ATOS, and Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions. A small core of folk, of different politics and no politics, have conducted regular street protests, against benefit sanctions, fuel poverty, workfare exploiters, and all aspects of austerity. We have been able to sustain these actions for over four years, and are recognised by folk in Dundee for our support for the Dundee Porters’ Strike and direct action demos. We cooperate with other grassroots groups involved in different forms of action, notably the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network (SUWN), who are conducting a strong advocacy campaign. As well as stalls every month at Dundee Buroo, we also have regular stalls in the schemes of Dundee.
What do you think 2016 will hold for claimants and the class struggle in Scotland?
I believe that 2016 will become a lot more severe for ALL benefit claimants, jobseekers, disability claimants, and following Osborne’s latest statement on the need for more austerity, I think the deferred tax credit reduction will be back on the table. I believe all grassroots groups will need to up the anti, as local government cuts will really start to bite. I also think that “the trade union movement” has no choice but to act against these cuts. Grassroots groups have solid experience and should demand a voice at any future demos and rallies proposed by the so-called vanguard of the working class. The trade union movement is stuck in the 1980s mode of operation. This was blatant during the Porters’ Strike – they had no ideas or actions that would make the strike successful. Dundee Against Austerity had to propose setting up support groups and organising pickets of the health secretary’s offices. At every turn we need to come up with innovative ideas and tactics, or we will be stuck on the “march and rally” roundabout.
What is Action Against Austerity and where would you like to see it going?
Action Against Austerity is an innovative idea to link grassroots groups and actions. Groups involved in AAA vary, with all forms of politics and ideas in the mix but, following our last conference in 2015, I believe we have set the groundwork for a focal point for groups who are classed as “non-bona fide”. This in itself gives all who participate in AAA a platform to make our voices and ideas heard. Another conference is being planned for March 12th, and planning/organising meetings will take place. The first is on the 25th January in Edinburgh, with a further meeting in February. I would like to see AAA progress to become a collective bloc, politics aside, that can come together for a common cause. Austerity and the rabid attack on our class, will continue regardless of which party governs us. Therefore, as I’ve stated before, we must up our game, develop new tactics, share our ideas and encourage our class to resist.
How can people elsewhere in Scotland get involved in fighting austerity?
In every town and city in Scotland, the effects of austerity are there to see: foodbanks, kids’ clothing banks, soup kitchens. There are numerous reports about child poverty, about the working poor, about open attacks on the disabled. We have a Scottish Government who pay lip service to being anti-austerity, and charities and churches who state that they are helping the poor. The real defence of the working class in alleviating poverty is the working class. We must strive to get our message out in the schemes and communities by using all means that we have available: through the media, social media, direct action. As the austerity agenda ramps up, folk will have no option but to resist, therefore grassroots groups need to become more visible, more vocal and more involved in as many issues we are able to cover. We must endeavour to get our ideas out by any means necessary.
Dundee Against Austerity – http://www.facebook.com/DundeeAWS/
Action Against Austerity – http://www.facebook.com/actionagainstausterityscotland/