Wolverhampton pensioners, WB&DTUC, UNISON, NUT & UNITE members joined thousands march to save public services
March and Rally Saturday 10th April 2010, London –
published in the MORNING STAR; by John Millington in Trafalgar Square
Britain's labour movement has come out in force with a 10,000-strong demonstration to stop cuts and defend public services.
The Defend the Welfare State and Public Services rally on Saturday, organised by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) and supported by the trade union movement, attracted young and old to the streets of London.
Erecting banners and waving union flags in glorious sunshine, marchers were given musical support by the Easington Colliery brass band.
Public-sector union Unison leader Dave Prentis told the rally that there had never been a more urgent time to show support for public services as "we cannot rely on the private sector to provide our essential needs."
Mr Prentis added: "The result of the failure of the private sector is that ordinary people are paying the price, while the bankers retire to their guarded homes with their multimillion-pound pensions.
"The income from pensioners' savings has been wiped out overnight. This recession has produced countless stories of shattered dreams and shattered lives.
"So, as people fall deeper into poverty and deeper into debt, who do they turn to? We all know the answer.
"They turn to the welfare state and public services for the help, which will not come from the private sector."
TUC president Dougie Rooney told the crowd that, despite assurances from the government, the "economy was in tatters" and social cohesion in society was being "undermined."
Promising that the TUC would stand "side by side" with all affiliated unions, Mr Rooney said: "We must make the case for skills, jobs and pensions."
Civil Service union PCS president Tony Conway countered the message in the right-wing press that there is a crisis in public spending and "cuts are necessary" to cut the deficit.
"The money is available if we close the tax loopholes for big business which cost the economy over £100 billion a year," he said.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack began his address by recalling fallen firefighters James Shears and Alan Bannon who were killed in the line of duty last week.
He said that firefighters "put their lives on the line every day for public. All they ask in return is the proper tools to do the job."
RMT president Alex Gordon said the cuts on the railways had been as a result of "public-sector infiltration by private companies."
Thanking the NPC for organising the demo, Mr Gordon paid tribute to the older generation that "fought fascism."
He concluded his passionate address with a warning to fellow trade unionists of further use of anti-trade union laws by ruthless employers.
People on the march were more than eager to share their local experiences of the cuts with the Star.
TSSA Yorkshire executive member Jill Murdoch said that, with private contractor Jarvis in liquidation, 2,000 rail jobs would be lost.
Calling for full public ownership of all rail services, Ms Murdoch added: "Network Rail awards contracts to the cheapest providers which means lower pay and poorer conditions."
The pensioner, trade union and other welfare movements are planning a major demonstration in central London Saturday 10th April, in defence of the welfare state and public services.
The march assembled at 12 noon at Temple Place, Embankment, London and set off at 1pm.
The rally run from 2-4pm in Trafalgar Square and with music, entertainment and speeches.
The National Pensioners Convention led the event and the TUC is giving its full support, along with ASLEF, BECTU, CWU, FBU, GMB, NUJ, NUT, PCS, POA, RMT, TSSA, UCATT, UCU, UNISON, UNITE and USDAW. In addition the BMA, RADAR and the Carers' Poverty Alliance are also taking part.
website advertising the event at www.10410demo.co.uk
Why we got involved?
This was a major event either just before the general election. It will put down a marker to the next government that the welfare state and public services are important to all of us and must not become a casualty of the economic crisis.
Whoever wins the next general election will be looking at the welfare state and public services as a way of cutting public expenditure. This demonstration must therefore send a clear message to all the political parties that the majority of people do not want to see further cuts and privatisation.