On Saturday 12th May, tens of thousands of working people descended on central London, calling for a new deal for workers and for public services. There were about 30,000 workers in their trade union contingents, representing branches and regions all over the UK, from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the North East, North West, Midlands, South West, South East, Eastern and London. They came to London from all walks of life - unions representing manufacturing workers, local authority staff, shop and retail employees, transport and education workers all marched together in an impressive display of unity and determination.
Many union activists spoke of the need for a change in the direction of the economy. Three million workers are stuck on zero hours contracts, in agency work and in low-paid self-employment. Workers in the public sector have been denied pay rises which have meant effective cuts in wages and standards of living. The drive of the ruling elite towards privatisation has affected all social programmes and services. Poverty, homelessness and an increase in vulnerability have also been the result of this agenda and the irresponsibility of the ruling elite towards the future of society.
The organizers said, "We're marching for the alternative. For a growing economy with great jobs in every nation and region of the UK. For a £10 per hour minimum wage and the right to a voice at work. For public services that are brilliant, funded and free at the point of use. And for a society that roots out racism, sexism and discrimination."
The march ended in a rally, with leaders of the country's biggest unions addressing the crowds. The TUC itself emphasised that it is building a sustained campaign. The working class must exercise its leadership in all fields of society, including against war and militarisation and for an economy and society in which health and education are recognised as rights for all and a budget is set which serves such an economy, and global trade and other international relations are based on friendship and mutual benefit, not on aggression and intervention.