Tom Walker talks to people gearing up for the mega-march on 20 October
The TUC demonstration on 20 October needs to be massive—and it will be. That is the message from towns large and small as they ramp up their organisation at the end of the summer.
This week Socialist Worker spoke to activists across the north of England about their plans for the protest. Peter Thorne, who is organising coaches from Burnley and nearby Colne and Nelson, said it’s “vital that we get at least a million people out there”.
“It’s certainly an important protest,” he told Socialist Worker. “My employer, Burnley council, is about to announce redundancies as part of next year’s budget cuts. I know most other councils will be doing the same.”
The scale of these cuts is one factor driving even more people onto the streets than joined the 26 March TUC demo last year.
Allerdale trades council is putting on a minibus to pick people up from the Lake District town of Cockermouth. Cockermouth’s population is 8,000.
The minibus will take them to Carlisle train station where they can get to London on the union-organised train. The unions and trades council are building for the demo by holding stalls in the city centre.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the big cities aren’t doing their bit too. Stefan Cholewka of the Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils (GMATUC) explained that many unions have already chartered trains from the city.
Local trades councils have agreed to focus on boosting the turnout among students, pensioners, disabled people and unemployed people alongside union members. GMATUC is not only getting them seats on trains, but has launched a £15,000 fundraising appeal to lay on 12 free coaches.
“So far we have money for three coaches and hopefully with more donations and local fund raising this can be increased,” said Stefan.
To date there have been four Greater Manchester open activists’ planning meetings. Another is scheduled for next Tuesday. There will also be a rally on 19 September.
Liverpool trades council has a similar initiative, with a city centre rally planned for Thursday 4 October. It is organising a “union and community train” together with the rail union Aslef. Other unions have backed it.
“We are 100 per cent confident not only that we will fill it but that we may have to book extra coaches as well,” said Mark Hoskisson, trades council secretary and a Unite shop steward.
“The test for me is always how many people at work say they will be coming. And so far more members than ever have been contacting me to find out how they can get to the demo.”
Download the SWP leaflet for the demo