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Current events :: Demo
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A huge Socialist Party "Tories Out!" banner greeted 20,000 demonstrators at the end of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) organised march and rally in central London on 12 May.
And if the main demand of the demo had been 'Tories out' instead of the vague 'A new deal for working people' then the turnout would have been huge too - possibly even hundreds of thousands.
Many snapped up Socialist Party placards with the same demand. The Communication Workers' Union - on the back of a massive vote for strike action, backed up by unofficial walkouts, that forced Royal Mail bosses to table an acceptable pay deal - had their own 'Tories out' placards.
Chants demanding this were made throughout by the lively Socialist Students contingent, which was joined by Tamil Solidarity and Socialist Party campaigners.
Pay was the other big issue. A big Usdaw shop workers' contingent was led by new president Amy Murphy, a Socialist Party member, with chants demanding a £10 an hour minimum wage and an end to zero-hour contracts.
Striking McDonald's workers marched towards the front of the demo demanding the same.
The PCS civil service union before the march called for it to be used to build for its upcoming national strike ballot and its contingent was one of the biggest and liveliest, reflecting the mood for action. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called for coordinated strike action in the rally afterwards.
The rally also heard from striking workers such as a TGI Fridays worker set to walkout on 18 May in London. Disgracefully though, nobody involved in the massive strikes against driver-only operation by guards in the RMT union was invited to address the rally, despite the action affecting five rail networks and the dispute on Southern Rail lasting two years.
Jeremy Corbyn joined marchers and spoke at the rally afterwards saying the Labour Party would "proudly support" workers who "organise together to improve their lives". This is welcome. However, as Unite general secretary Len McCluskey pointed out in his speech, there are those in Labour who don't agree and have been acting to undermine Corbyn. Labour councils in Birmingham during the bin workers strike and on Merseyside over driver-only operation on the trains have been at the forefront in attacking workers.
The Tories are weak. Coordinated action by the trade unions, linking disputes over pay, pensions and job losses could force them out, giving Corbyn and Labour a chance to win a general election. But trade unionists and workers need all Labour MPs and councils to support them and Corbyn so that a general election really could mean 'a new deal' and not more Tory and Blairite cuts and austerity.
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Article dated 16 May 2018
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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