‘DON’T BE FRIGHTENED OF A GENERAL STRIKE’ SAYS McDONNELL

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Visteon sacked workers on the march, they insist they are winning their struggle
Visteon sacked workers on the march, they insist they are winning their struggle

‘WHAT happened to us could have happened to anyone!’

This is what Visteon shop steward Raymond Dixon told the crowd in Trafalgar Square at the end of yesterday’s 6,000-strong May Day march.

He added: ‘The system has failed us and continues to fail us. We have to do something. There are people, mothers and fathers, that are treated like criminals by this government.

‘They run a campaign about single mothers taking money – what about the MPs!

‘We have a system that is failing us and we have to wake up to it.

‘What kind of world are we creating where we are dictated to by people who have wealth. We need to realise our power.

‘The action we took was not planned. We felt that the system had let us down, and we couldn’t accept it.

‘Ford Visteon, don’t care about people. All they have is greed.

‘The government must realise that we put them there and can take them out.’

Earlier, up to 8,000 workers and youth marched from Clerkenwell Green.

There were banners from Unison Waltham Forest and Hackney, Newham NUT, GMB (SOLO) branch, GMB Southern region, the London CWU, and Kingston and Waterloo ASLEF.

Gate Gourmet sacked workers marched behind their historic banner, as did the Chagos Islanders, and over 200 Tamils behind their banner.

There was also a large contingent of Kurdish workers and youth.

The Workers Revolutionary Party and Young Socialists had contingents on the march.

Marchers shouted ‘No to privatisation! Kick Brown out! Victory to the Gate Gourmet workers! Kick Woodley out! and Victory to the Tamil Tigers, Rajapakse out!

Some marchers spoke to News Line.

Mathew Waterfall, the Hackney Local Government Unison branch secretary, said: ‘The message coming from the managers is that 2010 is going to be a bad year.

‘The unions must all come out together.’

Tamil worker, Richard Raj said: ‘We are here to condemn the government of Sri Lanka.

‘Tens of thousands of Tamils have been killed by the Sri Lankan Army.

‘The British trade unions must take action to remove the ban from the LTTE.

‘The Tamil fighters are freedom fighters, not terrorists at all.

‘We want the International Community to supply food and medicines to the affected people. They must stop selling arms to Rajapakse.

‘They must immediately allow journalists into the war zone.

‘Tamil people have been put in concentration camps, without food and medicine, clothes and shelter, no water at all and no toilets.’

CWU London Divisional Rep, Mark Palfrey, said: ‘I represent 15,000 postal workers in the capital.

‘In the next two or three weeks we are balloting the London members for strike action, against job cuts and management failure to honour national agreements.

‘Various other parts of the country are also balloting.

‘But there should be a national ballot, it’s a national issue.

‘Royal Mail have offered a pay freeze, when they are making millions in profits.’

He added: ‘Where are the general secretaries and the TUC in this struggle to defend jobs and fight pay freezing and pay cutting.’

Steve McKenzie, GMB acting secretary southern and London (SOLO) construction branch, was campaigning for a march this Wednesday in support of trade union rights for Olympic site workers.

He said the Memorandum Of Understanding says there will be direct labour except in exceptional circumstances, and national rates and health and safety will be complied with.

‘To ensure this happens we need convenors and shop stewards, and safety reps on site.’

Labour MP John McDonnell told the crowd in Trafalgar Square: ‘The Visteon workers have won a great victory through solidarity. Solidarity succeeds.’

‘The CWU will also be demanding help. If that means a general strike well let’s do it, what are we frightened of! It is time now to show what capitalism is all about – and its exploitation,’ he added.

‘We stand in solidarity with the Tamil people.

‘Stop the genocide by the Rajapakse regime!

‘Act in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza!’