Bob Whitehead reports on the 'We Demand Better' protest organised by the TUC and held in London yesterday (18/06)


Source > Facebook Post Birmingham Left Unity

Tens of thousands demonstrated according to the BBC. This seemed a pretty fair assessment, although there were some claims of 50,000 up to 100,000. Suffice to say that it was a successful turnout; after leaving Portland Place at 12 noon, the last marchers entered Parliament Square at 2.45 pm. The spirit was upbeat, lively, and noisy.

Most sectors of the trade union movement attended, from the FBU to UNITE, from disabled workers to midwives, and all came with militant speeches from the platform. The only interruption to these speakers was when the RMT contingent arrived in the square to loud cheers. Their speaker then made a rallying call to arms for the whole movement to support them in their strike action this week, and to press for their own demands.

The list of horror stories of what each section of the working class is experiencing is too long to mention here. However, low pay, insecurity, short staffing, a lack of resources for public services, discrimination and stress are featured. The conclusion was that ‘enough is enough’, and the time for action had arrived.

Perhaps it is no surprise that not a shred of solidarity came from the Labour Party leadership. The party that was set up by the trade unions to defend its interests in Parliament could not be bothered to take the short walk from Parliament to give support. When the media can be relied upon to fully back the government in its attempts to discredit and isolate the trade unions, strong political support is required. However weak calls from the sidelines for compromise is the best that seems to be on offer.

There was no sign of the Green Party, but there were gazebos, stalls, papers, and leaflets a-plenty from the radical left. One initiative did try to unite the various groups in a common statement, that of the Eco-Socialist Alliance. Its leaflet was endorsed by seven groups: Left Unity, the Green Left, Anti-Capitalist Resistance, Red-Green Labour, the Breakthrough Party, RS21 and the Ecosocialist AllianceUK.

The Police took a low profile towards the march and were faced with calls to ‘Come and join us’, in their quest for higher pay! They did not respond to that, but neither did they try and act in the spirit of the Home Secretary in tackling the many trade union (and XR) bands that added to the noise. There were, not surprisingly, loud protests and boos as we passed 10 Downing Street, the seat of oppression, lies and corruption. No doubt the law breakers inside will lecture the trade unions to stick to the letter of the anti-trade union laws during the course of their disputes.

One unpleasant event does need to be mentioned. As we were waiting to board the coaches on the Embankment, a provocative Orange Order parade passed by. Imagine the hullabaloo if there had been an Irish Republican parade instead, replete with pipes, drums, and paramilitary uniforms?

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