Over 50,000 workers took part in a massive event in Durham, Britain in July, 2010 on the occasion of the “126th Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting”.
This is a traditional event in which the British working class celebrates its history of unity in struggle against the capitalists. This year, the event took place against the background of the massive crisis in the economy and the attempts of the ruling class to make the working people bear its burden. Workers came to the event not only to celebrate, but to seriously discuss the problems confronting them.
Thousands of workers and public service workers took part in the event. They marched behind 70 trade union banners, many of them being miners’ organisations from the former mining communities of Durham. Wave upon wave of workers marched through the city. During the course of the day, workers and their families were entertained by choirs and folk musicians and other entertainment. They participated in discussions on how the working class could play its leading role in society. After noon, the workers gathered for the annual “Big Meeting” at the racecourse.
The speakers at the “Big Meeting” included some of the leaders of the large public sector unions. The speaker from the Public and Commercial Services Union stated that that working class solidarity is no longer some utopian dream but the most powerful antidote to the “new consensus” of governments across Europe which demands that the working class pay the price of the economic crisis which the rich are responsible for. He condemned the injection of hundreds of billions of pounds of people’s money to bail out the banks and the speculators. He said that we have faced five years of cuts and privatisation already under New Labour. The PCS and other workers organised in unions like Unison, Unite, GMB and all the other public sector unions wanted the public sector alliance that has been successfully set up in the northern region replicated in every region and nation of the United Kingdom.
Other speakers condemned the continued participation of the British armed forces in the war in Afghanistan, which was being vehemently opposed by all sections of the working people. They also voiced their solidarity for the people of Palestine fighting for their national rights and condemned the propping up of the Israeli war mongers by the Anglo-Americans and European governments.