Despite a grey sky and the threat of rain, hundreds of workers from the PCS, UCU, UNISON, RMT, NUT, local Trade Councils and other unions marched through Newcastle’s city centre to celebrate International Workers Day.
As Richard Bathgate, a local UCU member explained; “we’re here to demonstrate our belief in the need for trade unionism and to celebrate its achievements…such as improved education of the workforce and hugely improved health and safety at work’”
Celebrated since 1890, this year’s International Workers Day (also known as May Day) was particularly important for many of its participants.
As PCS member Danny Colleran pointed out; “With the attacks on public services in Britain and around the world, it’s an expression of international unity when we really do need it. We’re looking at the very real threat of 10 years worth of public sector cutbacks”.
The cutbacks, put in place to repay the UK’s huge debts caused by the bailing out of the banks in April 2009, have of already started of course, and their effects are certainly being felt.
Among many other examples, Civil Servants have lost up to a third of their redundancy entitlements, many lecturers and other employees who work in further education colleges are being made redundant, 20 magistrate courts have been earmarked for closure and bin-men in many towns and cities have suffered large wage cuts.
The Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem parties are all united in their belief that these cuts are the only way to fill the gaping budget deficit hole. But many workers out on the march today totally disagreed.
“They should make a start by collecting the £50 billion worth of uncollected tax and close all the tax loop holes in the city of London” said Danny Colleran.
“Massively fine the greedy, negligent bankers” stated Richard Bathgate, a UCU member and electrical engineering lecturer; “If one of my students got electrocuted in class, I’d get fined for my negligence, so they should for theirs!”
“Put a massive tax on the rich like they did in the 1970s, stop the war, cancel Trident and cancel the ID card scheme.” is what Dave and Hugh, both local UNISON members, stated they wanted to see.
Many demonstrators were also keen to express their support for the Greek workers, who are fighting to protect their pay, conditions and jobs from the austerity measures being forced upon them by the PASOK government.
“Brilliant, it’s the working class fighting back” noted Dave and Hugh.
More articles from this author
- Junior doctors strike again: Health Secretary torpedos last minute deal
- Fire cuts kill: Sunderland people march to defend their fire station
- Interview with People's March for the NHS organiser Rehana Azam
- Newcastle: hundreds protest outside BBC over biased Gaza coverage
- Firefighters strike again in defence of their pension
- On the firefighters picket line in Sunderland
- Newcastle steps up fight to save libraries