Thousands march against government public sector cuts


The Trade Union Congress organised protest and rally, named “A Future that Works”, saw demonstrators calling for a new direction on Saturday.


By Lewis Garfield

More than 100,000 people marched through London on Saturday venting their growing anger towards the coalition’s austerity measures.

The Trade Union Congress organised protest and rally, named “A Future that Works”, played host to thousands of demonstrators calling for a new direction to inspire growth across Britain and end the vigorous cuts subjected throughout the public sector.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said the impact of spending cuts and the government’s obsession with austerity economics is hitting British families hard.

Mr Barber said: “Austerity isn’t working. It is hitting our jobs, our services, our living standards. So we have to make a choice. Between a future of lengthy dole queues and millions stuck in dead-end poverty jobs, or decent work with opportunities for our young people.”

He added: “It is fantastic to see so many people here from every part of our community, all utterly determined to build a better, fairer future for our country.”

David Cameron recently admitted that more “painful decisions” are required in order to get Britain’s economy up and running again.

Steve Coughland, a teacher at Luton Sixth–Form said: “Public servants from around the country did nothing to cause the crisis yet we are the ones expected to pay for it. Meanwhile, the super-wealthy are getting richer and richer.”

Carol Davies, a retired nurse and Unison supporter, said: “I’m here to support public services in our local area, and in solidarity to speak up for the NHS, the best institution this country offers.”

She added: “We are all singing from the same hymn sheet. We need to fight for future generations.”

President of the National Union of Students Liam Burns, surrounded by students on the Victoria Embankment start line, said: “We recognise the future the government is laying out, and it has nothing to do with growth. The raising of tuition fees and cuts to the EMA scheme is not the way we are going to get out of recession. This TUC march illustrates there is a majority of people who believe in a different approach to recession. ”

He added: “I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better and ultimately our generation is going to be hit hardest.”

The march was at its loudest as demonstrators passed 10 Downing Street seizing the opportunity to deliver their own personal message to Mr Cameron.

Andy Noble, Executive Council member for the Fire Brigade Union in the North East, said: “We lost 1,500 jobs this year with an estimated 2,000 to be lost over the next two years, this will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on public safety and the safety of fire fighters.” 

Steven Spence, Assistant General Secretary of Equity Performers Union, reinforced just how far reaching the cuts have been by claiming the government have attacked the arts with cuts of 30% to Arts Councils in England and 20% from within the BBC.

He added: “The government has to invest for success. If it doesn’t films like The King’s Speech and theatre productions like Matilda (all of which started in subsidised organisations funded by the government) will be a thing of the past.”

Pam Randall, a community hospital nurse from Croydon, said: “I’m appalled at the cuts being made in nursing, all hospitals are short of staff and it’s truly frightening. Nurses are expected to work 12-hour shifts which often extend to over 14-hours as we don’t just walk out on our patients.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband delivered a speech in Hyde Park to conclude the three mile march, accusing the Prime Minister of clinging to failing policies.

He was subjected to heckling and booing from segments of the crowd after acknowledging the need for cuts and reiterating his one nation policy.

Mr Miliband said: “I do not promise easy times. There will be some cuts.”

The TUC organised 250 buses to transport demonstrators to the capital.

There were no reports of the violence that marred a similar demonstration in March last year, although the Police reported damage to windows along Oxford Street following crowd dispersal from Hyde Park.

Police also heightened security outside Starbucks outlets along the route following recent charges of tax avoidance.

The resignation of Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell on Friday following the “pleb” scandal, coupled with George Osborne’s “Great train snobbery” episode, were common topics of conversation among the disgruntled masses.

To some, incidents like this reinforce just how out of touch the government is with the electorate.

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