Almost a month ago, a coach full of trade unionists, Socialists, Greens and members of the local Axe the Bedroom Tax group as well as a few Labour party members, went off to Manchester for the Save the NHS march and rally outside Tory party conference. The police say around 50,000 were on the streets demonstrating which really means that at least this many turned out. Interestingly this was double the figure the TUC was anticipating in the run-up to the demo. Although the target was the attacks on the NHS this demo represented the culmination of frustration against the widely hated Tory lead government.
The Socialist Party nationally as well as locally had made a strong mobilisation for the demo which was clear from the many stalls, leafleters and paper sellers side by side with other left groups. In fact every imaginable kind of group from badger cull opponents to feminists and all manner of trade unions were on the streets with their material and banners. However, the collosal booing that rung out as we passed the venue of the Conservative party conference showed we were united in opposition to our common enemy.
The banner of the Tory conference read "For hardworking people" but the real hardworking people were the men and women who had came out to oppose this government determined to make ordinary people pay for a crisis they had no role in bringing about.
I talked with Hovis workers who after two weeks of strike action managed to win proper contracts for workers on zero hour terms. This victory was conceded by management at the start of their third strike. This is a very important precedent given the large numbers of young people affected by the scourge of casualised labour, zero-hour contracts with no rights or assurances. This victory shows that if we fight we can win.
The strikes that are taking place now must carry on what the demo started. Unions must coordinate their ballots and strike on the same day to have the greatest effect if the austerity steam-roller is to be pushed back and the millionaire government stopped in it's tracks.