North London saw hundreds march through its streets last Saturday in protest of a wave of planned cuts in jobs and public services in the surrounding areas. Slogans like “They say cut back! We say fight back!” and “What do we want? Jobs for all! When do we want it? Now!” echoed around Islington’s busy Holloway Road.
At the head of the demonstration were staff and students from the local London Metropolitan University, where as many as 500 jobs may be axed due to a funding crisis caused by incompetent management, made worse by the recession. Also on the march was local Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, along with dozens of other trade unions, many of which are also fighting against cuts in their industries.
The demonstration stopped briefly outside a Metropolitan University campus to make itself visible to the management, before continuing on for a rally in Archway, a town that has also become a victim of the recession after it was announced that the Civil Service was moving out of nearby Archway Tower to cut costs.
Austin Harney, a civil servant from the Tower, described how up to 500 jobs will be lost in Archway, bringing economic “devastation” to an area already struggling to survive the recession.
John Taylor, also from PCS, described the current financial crisis as “the worst in living memory, which has resulted in savage cuts in public spending, along with a massive rise in unemployment and poverty.”
Jim Kerwin, from the Communication Workers Union (CWU), described how the government is now attacking Britain’s publicly owned postal service with plans to part-privatise Royal Mail. One possible buyer is the Dutch firm TNT, a company that played a strike breaking role during the 1986 newspaper workers’ dispute in Wapping. Jim outlined how postal workers are currently being balloted for strike action.
Max Watson from London Metropolitan University outlined how staff and students were being made to pay for the bosses’ financial crisis, whilst the University management have awarded themselves 2.2 million pounds in bonuses. “They thought we’d accept the situation, but we are here today to make it clear that we will not pay for their crisis”.
Local Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn who has called for a public enquiry into the University funding crisis said “a victory for London Metropolitan would be a victory for all workers”. Jeremy continued by stating that he was opposed to the privatisation of Britain’s immensely successful publicly owned postal service, and that he was in favour of public ownership, but added that “we also need public control” of industry.
Gary Heather from the Islington Trade Union Council summed things up by saying that “people all around the country, and around the world, can see the failure of the system. We have a political class who are not accountable. We need to stand together and build a new system based on equality, fairness, and justice.”
The crowd’s fighting spirit was boosted further by the announcement of two important victories. The first being that Visteon car workers had won their battle to get proper pensions, in addition to their already dramatic victory of proper unemployment compensation after they occupied their factory last month. The second announcement being that Doncaster College has just won it’s battle against proposed cut backs.
In conclusion, Mark Campbell from London Metropolitan University, and one of the organisers of the event, finished by saying “This march is about uniting the trade union movement, which is the only way to stop the cut backs, and keep jobs and public services.”