'NO TO privatisation' chanted 200 trade unionists and campaigners as they demonstrated through the streets of Milton Keynes last Saturday. The march was called by local trade unionists in the post workers' CWU union and the GMB union and was joined by children, parents and teachers from the local Save Our Schools campaign.
John Colbert, branch secretary of the CWU's Eastern No 6 branch, said, 'The word privatisation sends terror into the heart of every public sector worker. It means the end of job security, the erosion of workers' rights, the downsizing of the workforce. We have to tell this government it cannot continue this public sector 'reform', which is against the public and against workers.'
Jim Hiom from the GMB said, 'Privatisation affects every single person in Milton Keynes and in Britain. This is just the start of the campaign. We must stand together and stand united.' Peter Kelly from the Save Our Schools campaign told Socialist Worker that 17 schools in the local area were threatened with closure.
He said, 'No one who voted for the Labour government or the Labour council ever dreamed that they would be closing schools. The closures damage the community, damage education and threaten teachers' jobs. Playing fields will be sold off for private firms to make a profit.'
Many on the march had booked places on coaches to take them to protest outside Labour's conference in Brighton next Sunday, 30 September. Charlotte Dunham and Alex Bostock are from Milton Keynes Friends of the Earth. They took piles of flyers and posters to advertise the Brighton protest. Charlotte said, 'I am angry at the way global companies are behaving, and the way they seem to be dictating to this government. Massive companies like Gap and McDonald's exploit workers around the world and pay slave labour wages.'
'We hate globalisation,' added Alex, 'and we want to tell everyone and be part of the movement.'
Paul Moffat and John Gray came to the demo from Bedford. They are CWU members working for BT. 'We have had a taste of privatisation,' said John. 'We joined the demo because we have to do everything we can to put an end to this madness.'
At the rally at the end of the march there was a round of applause for teacher Jon Berry when he spoke out against any move to war and retaliation following the events in the US.
CAMPAIGNERS from south east London recently had a cavalcade against privatisation, to build for the protest against Blair in Brighton. Leon de la Rocha said, 'Our plan was to promote awareness of some real issues, such as racist scapegoating of refugees, Star Wars, tuition fees and privatisation, and to tell people to be there on 30 September. 'We drove four cars through south east London with colourful banners on the front and back, screaming through the megaphone as we went.'
AROUND 130 local campaigners came to a rally against privatisation in Manchester on Monday.
BRIGHTON SOCIALIST Alliance members delivered over 7,000 leaflets last week to urge local people to support the protests outside New Labour's conference.
HEALTH AND Safety Executive inspectors in London voted unanimously at their local IPMS union meeting to back the anti-privatisation protest in Brighton. One inspector summed up the mood: 'I've always been middle of the road, but this government is cheating. Labour used to be against privatisation.'
THE Islington UNISON branch committee has backed the protest. Jan Winstanley reports, 'On the strength of the leaflet alone, the branch committee agreed to back the protests and purchased 12 coach tickets for Brighton. They agreed to mail the leaflet to every UNISON member in the council.'
'I'VE NEVER been on anything like this before, but I'll be in Brighton protesting against privatisation,' reports TGWU rep John Myers from Waltham Forest College in east London. 'I have already collected for coach tickets for two fellow shop stewards, one in UNISON and one in the TGWU,' he says.
ANTI-PRIVATISATION campaigners were out in force in Sheffield last weekend leafleting for the 30 September protest in a 'chain of trade unionists'. Local hospital workers have set up an anti-privatisation campaign and have called a rally on Monday 24 September.
GLOBALISE Resistance is organising a weekend in London for activists to come together to make banners, puppets, costumes and other props for the festival and march against privatisation.
For details of time and venue phone Globalise Resistance on 020 8980 3005 or visit www.resist.org.uk