Anger on show at TUC demo in London

OVER 25,000 trade unionists and
campaigners marched through
London on the TUC union federation’s
“New deal for working
people” demonstration last
Saturday.
It called for a minimum wage
of £10 an hour now, a ban on
zero hours contracts and repeal of
the Trade Union Act which makes
strikes harder. And it demanded a
crackdown on tax dodgers and more
funding for the NHS, education and
other public services.
There were delegations from virtually
every union in Britain, and a
particular welcome for recent strikers
such as rail, university, college
and McDonald’s workers.
Pay was the big issue for nearly
everyone on the march.
At the rally
Manuel Cortes, TSSA transport
union general secretary, said,
“Enough is enough of rotten, rotten
austerity and we’re not going to take
it anymore.
“The Tories have used the recession
as cover to smash the NHS,
attack workers’ conditions and preside
over a fall in wages.”
Huge cheers erupted when Cortes
said, “We should take a leaf out of
Iceland’s book. They put the bankers
where they belong—in jail.”
Decline
Ten years on from the financial
crisis, real wages are still worth
£24 a week less than they were in
2008. And they are not expected to
return to pre-crash levels until 2025,
according to the TUC.
At that point, real wages in
Britain will have been in decline for
17 years, and the average worker
will have lost about £18,500.
Kris, a GMB union care worker,
said, “I only get the minimum wage.
We’ve got to get it up to £10 an hour.
“This is how we do that, by
marching.”
And Jo, an Usdaw union rep at
an Argos in Bolton, said, “We need
a better living wage. People are
struggling.
“I volunteer at a soup kitchen and
we’ve got people coming who are in
work, not just homeless people.”
People had different ideas about
how to win higher wages.
A couple of sections of the march
occasionally broke out in chants of,
“Oh Jeremy Corbyn”. And there was
a smattering of Labour Party banners
throughout the march.
Dodging
Sean, a young council worker, said,
“We haven’t had a pay rise for eight
years, but the rich are still allowed to
get away with dodging tax.
“We need a change of government
for a start. A Labour government
led by Jeremy Corbyn
would be a huge step forward.”
Sarah, a health care worker in the
Unison union, wanted a better pay
deal than the one her union leaders
had recommended.
“We’ve had a pay freeze for years,”
she said. “Now they’re going to
put pay up but it’s not in line with
inflation.
“We need to have more marches
like this. Strikes maybe.”
It was very welcome that Labour
leader Jeremy Corbyn joined marchers
on Saturday.
Corbyn promised to “open an
inquiry into Orgreave [a police
assault on miners during their 1984-
85 strike], blacklisting and wherever
workers have faced injustices.
A commitment to housing was a
central part of his speech, reasserting
the promise to build “half a million
council homes”.
He said, “Public ownership is no
longer a dirty word but is something
that is very popular.
workers a say in their future.”

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