Protesters joined picket lines and packed the centres of towns and cities up and down the country on Saturday. We bring you a flavour of how the day went.
Manchester had proportionately one of the biggest protests around the country. Counterfire’s Martin Hall reports there was a crowd of around two thousand people assembled in Piccadilly Gardens. The numbers were increased by the PCS Samba Band and Don't Pay UK marching up from the RMT picket at Piccadilly Station.
As well as Enough is Enough speakers, there were speakers from the rank and file of the unions, refugee campaigners, Acorn, Manchester TUC, the People's Assembly and others.
The speeches were intercut with live music, all chaired by Lucy Burke from the UCU.
Karen Buckley, People's Assembly Manchester convenor, stressed the need for maximum unity on the left in the fight against the Tories, which received a huge cheer.
Martin was however concerned that there was a lack of clarity about what the next steps are, As he put it, ‘there needs to be a mechanism for people to get involved and build the movement. Demos of this size must create momentum, or the opportunity could be squandered.’
Ross Maidment from Glasgow writes of an excellent protest with striking postal and rail workers marching from their picket lines to the centre of Glasgow – hitting out against job cuts and the cost of living.
‘In a special moment, the two combative demonstrations converged as they met to rally at Buchanan Street. Around two thousand people crammed beneath the steps to hear energised speeches by trade unionists and community action groups. “Victory to the working class!” rang out as more people drew in despite the threat of heavy rain.’
In London, several thousand people gathered at the Enough is Enough protest outside King’s Cross station speech to hear speeches from union leaders, MPs, strikers and celebrities. Health worker Elly Badcock spoke of an amazing atmosphere and a mood for class war that she had rarely, if ever, experienced.
Speaker after speaker got massive cheers for calling out the government and the chaos their system is delivering. Tower Hamlets MP Apsana Begum spoke of the horrifyingly real consequences of Tory incompetence in her constituency. Jeremy Corbyn condemned a situation in which ‘we top Europe for inequality in the fifth biggest economy in the world’. In a barnstorming speech NEU co-leader Kevin Courtney called for unity and co-ordination between the strikers, a theme taken up too by RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch:
‘The working class is back’ he said, ‘and nothing should divide us. All the unions need to work together so they don’t pick us off one by one and the People’s Assembly and Enough is Enough and all the other campaigns need to be co-ordinating’.
Two miles down the road Just Stop Oil and climate campaigners managed to block two bridges over the Thames. In a great day of protest it was perhaps a shame the Enough is Enough protest didn’t march to join them.
City Hall in Sheffield saw an excellent Enough is Enough rally backed by the People’s Assembly and the Trades Council. It ended in a march through the central shopping district that pulled at least 700 people. James Black reports that the streets resonated with chants of "Tories out" and "Tax the rich - pay the workers", and experienced activists said the march bore a more militant spirit than almost any of recent years.
It was, James said, ‘Generationally diverse, and with plenty of students bearing homemade banners, the demo saw a strong Aslef union presence. The latter also spoke strongly from the rally platform in support of today's joint action among the rail unions and the CWU, with large cheers for calls to continue such coordination.’
Other rally speakers included a local People's Assembly representative and reps from a number of unions and Black Lives Matter. The former called for all the progressive campaigns and the unions to unite and fight the Tories' class warfare together, on the streets and picket lines.
In the same vein, the secretary of the Sheffield Trades Council, Martin Mayer, called for people to fill all the remaining seats on tomorrow's coach to the demonstration at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham.
The Bristol Enough is Enough is rally saw up to 1,500 people out on the streets. After speeches from Acorn and striking UCU FE workers, the march headed off to the headquarters of OVO energy which was temporarily besieged by the large crowd.
The marchers then headed off to Temple Meads to join the picket line of the striking rail workers. The busy main road by Temple Meads was blocked for some time, clearing only to let an ambulance through. The crowd clapped the ambulance and the driver gave a clenched fist in return to huge cheers.
Finally the march headed off to a Royal Mail delivery office in South Bristol. The CWU pickets there were somewhat surprised to see hundreds of marchers descend on their picket line. From there, the rally dispersed. An impressive show of force having been made.
In Crewe, East Cheshire People’s Assembly and the Crewe and District Trades Council came together for the first time to organise a demonstration in support of striking rail and mail workers and to demand an end to the Tory Government. The demo was well attended, with pickets from RMT, TSSA, Aslef, Unite, and the CWU taking part, alongside many others.
At the Hastings Demands Better rally the ‘vibe was determined and defiant and the protest very large’. Local activists report ‘a really encouraging day’ in which the unions and local campaigns ‘came together in unity against the Tories, against the cost of living crisis and against the system as a whole.’
Protesters received an electric reception in Newcastle as around 1,000 people turned out for one of the city’s bigger rallies in recent years. Enough is Enough and a coalition of trade unionists, anti-racists, tenants’ organisation, the People’s Assembly and other community organisations made their presence felt on the streets and huge cheers of determination rang out for slogans such as ‘tax the rich.’
Jo Shafto of CWU and Jessica Robinson of RMT, both currently in dispute, received great receptions as they condemned their profiteer employers for making a killing while forcing workers and service users to accept cuts. Representatives from UCU, PCS, TUC also spoke to huge cheers.
The socialist North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and local MP Ian Lavery both gave powerful speeches urging the need to fight on after today. The next steps are crucial. The People’s Assembly national demonstration in London on 5 November was promoted widely and the People’s Assembly’s Tony Dowling’s emphasised the fight of striking workers “is everybody’s fight!” chimed with the insurgent mood of the crowd.
The rally was followed by a march to the RMT picket line at Central Station to cap off an excellent day which powerfully combined the strike movements and street movements.
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