British workers stage massive protest against cuts

LONDON (Morning Star) – This was the scene on the streets of London on Saturday when three-quarters of a million people staged the biggest protest yet in the fightback against the Tory-led coalition’s brutal cuts program.

Some estimates put the number on the Trades Union Council-organized March for the Alternative as high as 800,000 – ordinary women, men and children from across Britain determined to add their voice to the resistance.

The demonstration brought together a broad cross-section of Britain’s working class from the public and private sectors, young and old, black and white.

Its huge scale sent a warning to Prime Minister David Cameron that the trade union movement will not stand idly by while millions are made unemployed and public services are decimated.

Setting off from London’s Embankment, workers from every walk of life donned union colors, waved flags and passionately chanted as they moved slowly towards a rally in Hyde Park.

People were still arriving in the park after the speakers had finished five hours after the head of the march had set off at 12 p.m.

Unite union General Secretary Len McCluskey, addressing the hundreds of thousands who did make it to Hyde Park by the start of speeches at 2 p.m., pointed out to huge cheers that the tail end was still at Waterloo Bridge four miles away.

McCluskey drew repeated roars of approval from the crowd after declaring of the Tories: “Unless they stop their cuts and drop the NHS Bill, this will be their poll tax.” [He was referring to a bill seen as a move toward privatization of Britain’s National Health Service.]

Tens of thousands of first-time marchers turned out to march through London.

Maritime worker Martin Ingham had travelled from Liverpool to take part in his first march.

Speaking to the Morning Star he said: “I’m worried about cuts to the Maritime Coastguard Agency, the merchant navy and to the tug fleet.”

Ingham added that the cuts were an attack on the poor and that’s what made him determined to attend his first protest march.

Selina Clark from Withernsea just outside Hull had left home at 4 a.m. to make the demonstration.

She said that she was marching for the first time because she “didn’t want to lose her job” at a primary school.

“Unemployment is getting worse and we are starting to see the consequences,” Clark said.

Although the TUC-organized demonstration was trouble-free there were some small scuffles.

And many people were annoyed when the police closed Embankment station before the march began because of the sheer scale of the demonstration, adding an extra mile for would-be marchers.

Originally published at MorningStarOnline.

Photo: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) members gather for the march and rally in London, March 26.