Over 10,000 workers and youth joined the ‘Britain is Broken’ march through London on Saturday, called by the People’s Assembly, with big delegations from the trades unions, most notably the RMT.
The Workers Revolutionary Party and the Young Socialists, with their banner, called on the trades unions to organise a general strike to bring in a workers government, rather than wait or plead with the Tories to call a general election to allow the Labour leader Starmer, who is opposed to trade union pickets, to take office.
The demo was large enough to cross both bridges simultaneously, as it wound its way around Parliament.
John Gutheridge, RMT London Bridge said that the recent decision by the RMT executive to call off the planned transport strikes was a ‘hard one’.
He said: ‘On the one hand there was an offer, but we don’t actually know what that is yet. Our members have put a lot or work into defending our conditions. It’s taken three transport secretaries to get this far.
‘What I am getting from London is that a lot of us think that we should have carried on with the strikes until Monday to find out what was on the table because that is when the negotiations start.
‘We don’t actually know what is being offered.’
NHS workers Rebecca Jones, Sara Piccolo, Vicky Fieldhouse spoke to News Line.
Rebecca said: ‘I think the Tories should be brought down, because they are selling off everything we own.
‘Like the NHS, it’s not their’s to sell, it’s ours. Everything has become a commodity.
‘Our pensions are not their’s to sell. Have you been down to Battersea? They’ve even sold the streets.’
Sara interjected: ‘And they are doing it shamelessly. They told us that Brexit was to bring back control. But they don’t have control of anything. They are selling a “pup” to the general public, and the media are going along with it.
‘I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. They are a class who believe in the same thing and we are just people at the end of the stick.’
Vicky added: ‘I have wondered whether a new political party will come out of this because Labour is not doing anything for the working class, but who would be brave enough?
‘I mean they frightened Jeremy Corbyn, so that person has to be very special. The whole political system “first past the post”, it doesn’t work.’
Rebecca added: ‘Also we know, even on this march we could just be marching and making a loud noise and you can get arrested. In the past the ruling classes had to be grounded in industry, now it’s all big global finance.
‘They don’t care about the country, the roads, the infrastructure. It’s like a pressure cooker. In the past, it let off steam and you got crumbs but now I think that pressure cooker is going to blow.’
Speaking at the rally at the end of the march, Laura Pidcock National Secretary People’s Assembly, saluted the RMT, Unite, FBU, CWU, PCS, Unison and ASLEF delegations on the demo for ‘standing up for their terms and conditions, and their safety’.
Pidcock said: ‘This demonstration today is a protest against the greed of those who take millions and billions from the pockets of working class people and make our lives miserable, and is for a general election.’
She said it was ‘the job of the economic system to derive profit ruthlessly from working class people’, adding there is not an ounce of morality to the capitalist system.
‘The ruthlessness of their ideology pulls wealth further into the hands of a tiny minority, and power away from us.
‘We see these most brutal attacks on our communities, in our homes and the strain is felt by us in our homes and work places.
‘Look what they’ve done to us – children’s centres, libraries, swimming pools, leisure centres, gone, shut down, the social security system decimated, working class people attacked every year, rampant outsourcing and privatisation and millions of people in poverty.
‘A tiny minority of people in that parliamentary building, deciding on our behalf who will be our Prime Minister, to impose another round of brutal austerity.
‘The Police Crime Court and Sentencing Bill, and Public Order Legislation, the Nationality and Borders Act are all designed to try and break our struggle against them, as our conditions worsen.’
She claimed: ‘A general election is just the start. Our discontent goes much deeper.’
Referring to the Labour Party, she added: ‘And we must admit that a demonstrably weak opposition, led by Keir Starmer, when in government, will be faced with the same economic conditions and the same contradictions that this government is faced with.
‘So when it comes to it, the Labour leadership will feel our power as well. We are in the battle of our lives for our livelihoods, for our planet and we will rise to that challenge in ruthless defence of our class,’ she concluded.
Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary, said: ‘Our dispute is paused to allow for talks, but it’s not over. We are pressing on for a square deal for our members on pay, conditions and job cuts.
‘And we will not stop until our members decide if this dispute is resolved – they will take the decision.
‘And if we don’t get a deal off Network Rail and the train operators we will strike and strike again until we bring them to the table and get a deal.’
Other speakers included Kate Bell, Head of Economics at the TUC. John McDonnell MP raised the imprisonment of Julian Assange and said that people had come to demonstrate because ‘there are 4 million people living in poverty in Britain’.
Kevin Courtney from the National Education Union spoke of the strike balloting now taking place and said: ‘Our country is in a social crisis. This winter thousands of people will not be able to put the heating on, will go hungry and some will die.
‘Children are going hungry in our schools, schools are organising food banks which are also used by teachers and nurses. It is a huge crisis in this country.
‘The government blames the war in Ukraine and Covid, but the real reason is because they have held our wages down for the longest period in 200 years, since the Napoleonic Wars.
‘And they want that to go on longer.
‘When the Bank of England said they are putting interest rates up, they said that it’s because they are worried that pay will go up.
‘They have not been bothered when profits go up or bankers bonuses but will hold workers pay down.
‘My union is right now balloting 300,000 and support staff in 23,000 nurseries and colleges across the country for strike action.
‘We are balloting alongside our sister union NASUWT, NAHT, the Royal Colleges of Nurses and Midwives the RMT, the CWU, because we want to see a change in this country.
‘The economy is going wrong and the money is in all the wrong places.’
The thousands of workers and trade union members on the march in fact reflected the situation that millions of workers are now also on the march and will not accept poverty pay or freezing in the winter.
They have had enough of the Tories and right wing Labour leaders who condemn pickets and are opposed to strike actions.
They want a general strike and it is what the TUC must now be made to deliver, or be replaced by a new TUC leadership that will call the general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government, that will nationalise the banks and the major industries, to bring in socialism.