Over a quarter of a million people attended a very moving and emotional 133rd Big Meeting in Durham to remember Davey Hopper, who died a week after last year’s Gala. Davey was the General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association for 30 years, and was the driving force behind the ongoing success of the Gala. On the march were British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew, in the middle of a 16 day strike for a living wage – and the biggest cheers were for the Durham Teaching Assistants, who explained why they are rejecting a terrible deal “negotiated” by UNISON which would leave nearly a quarter of them losing up to £4,000 immediately, and everyone else worse off eventually. UNISON should hang their heads in shame at trying to sell the Durham Lions out like this – now it’s down to all of us to give them the support they need to get a proper settlement.
Is this the beginnings of a rank and file movement that can take on the Tories? Activists and workers in struggle from all over the country respond to the call from the Durham teaching assistants to march with them as they continue to fight against 23% pay cuts imposed on them by a Labour Council – and then pack out the Durham miners hall to hear inspiring speeches from the TAs, calling for a united fight against education cuts and to kick out the rotten Labour councillors who voted for this shambles once and for all.
The Durham Lions were out in force again during half term, impatient at the lack of movement in negotiations over plans to cut their pay by 23%. Now they have called a solidarity march and rally for Saturday March 25 and are asking for your support – not only to step up their own fight, but to link up workers from all over the country who are facing attacks. They send their solidarity to you and ask you to stand in solidarity with them – together, we can all make a difference.
The Durham lions become the Durham lumiere to say Happy Xmas! The fight goes on though – although they forced the council into a massive climbdown with offers of talks and the suspension of the sacking and reengagement on new contracts, the council are still not offering anything concrete. If the negotiations don’t guarantee the preservation of current pay and conditions, the lions will roar again – at a moment’s notice.