Union activists target Lib Dem conference

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Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrats faced a huge protest by trade union activists today amid angry accusations that they had "betrayed" the electorate and were now "assassinating" public services.

Hundreds of union members started gathering close to the party's annual conference in Liverpool for rallies and marches later today aimed at venting their fury on the coalition Government's spending cuts which have already seen over 200,000 public sector jobs cut or threatened with the axe.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison. will say: "Who can trust the Liberal Democrats now? They have ditched the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable along with their election promises. Their thirst for power has led them to sell-out their own supporters.

"They must face up to the responsibility, that their assaults on public sector workers, will see hundreds and thousands of people out of a job. The impact of those cuts on local people who rely on those services will be devastating."

Mr Prentis will say that in Liverpool more than a third of workers were employed in the pubic sector, relying on those jobs to keep their families off the poverty line, adding: "We don't swallow the myth that the private sector are there, ready and willing to pick up the slack. That they will be able to create jobs for all those people losing them. The opposite is true.

"We know that hundreds and thousands of private sector jobs hang by a thread, because they rely on the public sector.

"They rely on the spending power of council workers in their local shops, hairdressers, local cafes and restaurants. As councils up and down the country cut jobs, we will see our high street shops empty and boarded up. Local shopkeepers losing a lifetime's work and the dream of running their own shop."

Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, will say: "The ConDem coalition has no public mandate for the assassination of our public services. These cuts are savage and will be a betrayal of the electorate.

"As always it will be working people who become the victims. From the very young to the very old, the support they depend on will be pulled away.

"We're all in this together? Don't make me laugh. It won't be Cameron and his millionaire cabinet who worry about their jobs, their homes or the state of our schools and hospitals.

"This is not just about the public sector but about housing, transport, manufacturing and senseless economics that hits growth and hurts the most needy while the greedy go scot free.

"The tragedy is that it doesn't have to be this way. A tax avoidance clampdown would bring billions into the economy right away.

"This is a wake-up call. We are not going to wait around for our services to be assassinated."

A decision to stop the protest taking place outside the Liberal Democrats' party conference was made by the police and not the party, officials said.

Andrew Wiseman, chair of the Federal Conference Committee, said police had said it was not "appropriate" for demonstrators to be allowed outside Liverpool's Echo Arena, where the party's annual conference is taking place.

Mr Wiseman said the Liberal Democrats were happy with "peaceful debate" and the decision to prevent protests directly outside the conference centre was made by Merseyside Police.

Unions are also holding a series of fringe meetings through the conference to discuss the impact of the spending cuts and to argue that there is a better way to tackle the UK's economic deficit.