On Saturday 20,000 people marched through
the streets of Edinburgh to show their opposition to cuts in public services.
The march was called by the Scottish Trade Union Congress to launch their
“There is a Better Way” campaign, which they have described as the beginning of
the fight against Tory cuts north of the border.
The demonstration assembled on East Market
Street. All the major unions were represented and had mustered large
contingents headed by balloons, placards and banners, most striking of which
were the RMT’s emblazoned with a red fist and the slogan “Organise!” Over 100
coaches from union branches up and down the country had brought people to the
demo. The march took some time to travel the short distance to Princes Street
Gardens, due to the sheer number of demonstrators, and even well after the
speeches had started people were still pouring into the park. The speeches were
fiery and full of rhetoric: Joy Dunn, STUC President, called for “organised
strike action” to defeat the cuts.
The turn-out for the demonstration shows
the depth of anger among the Scottish working class at the savage cuts the
Tories are about to implement. The march on Saturday was a good start to the
fightback but, as the STUC have said, it is only a start. The aims of the
“There is a Better Way” campaign to stop cuts and job losses in public services
are definitely correct and to be supported, but we need to make concrete how
exactly we are going to fight the cuts and what we want as an alternative.
Now the STUC must take the next logical
step and call a one day strike throughout the public sector in Scotland, and
call on the TUC nationally to do the same. That would send a very clear message
to the Tories that we won’t stand for this onslaught against our services. But even
that would only be a beginning: unions throughout Scotland need to pressure
councils and the Scottish parliament to defy the cuts and draw-up deficit
budgets and then fight, with the support of the labour movement, against the
attacks from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition that would follow.
We need to clearly state: In
short we won’t pay for the crisis caused by the bankers and we need an end to a
system which even in an apparent boom was characterized by unemployment, longer
hours and cuts in public services. We don’t what cuts, we do want full-employment, decent social housing, a
living wage, a real pension, benefits worthy of the name; not starvation
rations. Only through the nationalisation of the banks and big business, in
order to organise the economy for the good of working people not a few bankers
and bosses, can we make these demands a reality.