OVER 10,000 trade unionists and youth took part in the London May Day march yesterday from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Square.
As well as trade union banners there were banners and delegations of Kurds, Iraqis, Iranians and Sri Lankans living in the UK. A lively Young Socialists and Workers Revolutionary Party delegation won support for their slogan ‘Vote “Leave” bring down the Tories! No privatisation, defend the NHS! Support junior doctors with a general strike! One Palestine, Zionism out!’
There were speeches at Clerkenwell Green before the march set off. TUC general secretary France O’Grady told the crowd: ‘Solidarity to the steel workers, teachers, junior doctors and BHS workers – we stand with you.’
O’Grady sought to present her deal with the Tories over the anti-union legislation and Brexit as a victory saying: ‘Thank you all for this magnificent fight you are making to defeat the Trade Union Bill. We’ve defeated the government twice. They tried to ban pickets, check-off and political rights. We defeated them and we are going to carry on fighting.’
The TUC has yet to call one strike against the anti-union laws, and has refused to call a day of action in support of the junior doctors. She added: ‘The TUC position is Brexit will destroy workers’ rights and jobs.” She concluded: ‘Whatever others do don’t let them divide us. Reach out together and stand up for our values, stand together and we will win.’
RMT member Jason Buck told News Line: ‘I don’t agree with Frances O’Grady, I’m for leaving the EU. It’s up to the trade unions to fight for workers’ benefits. The EU is an unelected body and is for privatisation. TTIP is one of the worst aspects of it, making decisions on our behalf without us getting any say.’
Jeremy Corbyn was introduced as the first Labour leader to address the London May Day for 50 years. He said: ‘The Tory government is trying to bring in the Trade Union Bill to prevent trade unions from standing up for workers’ rights.’
He pledged that a Labour government would repeal anti-union legislation in 2020.
He said: ‘We want it to be a positive right to join a union for anyone. The junior doctors are on the march to defend the NHS.
‘It’s disgraceful that the secretary of state for health is more interested in privatising 48% of the National Health Service than talking to junior doctors. We are here today to defend the NHS free at the point of need for all.’
He went on to condemn the housing crisis and pledge a ‘massive council house building programme’ under a Labour government. He added: ‘We have to stand against racism in any form. We stood up against apartheid in South Africa. Now we stand up against the far right attacks on migrant workers.
‘We stand absolutely against anti-semitism in any form. We stand united in diversity.
‘Those attacking London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan on the basis of religion, shame on you.’
At the Trafalgar Square rally NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: ‘We are facing privatisation, the destruction of our terms and conditions. We will be saying no to these things and will be balloting for national strike action before the end of this summer term.’