Campaigners and trade unionists are gearing up to give the G20 group of world leaders a warm welcome to Britain at the end of next month when they meet in London.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and a number of other campaign groups have called a protest for Saturday 28 March to tell world leaders to “Put People First” as the recession bites.
The excitement is growing around the country. Students involved in the recent militant movement for Gaza, workers angry at job cuts and the bailouts, and charity campaigners sick of a world blighted by world poverty are preparing to come together.
Trade unionists are already organising for the protests. Pete Dwyer, a member of the UCU lecturers’ union in Oxford, told Socialist Worker, “After the recent sacking of the BMW Cowley workers, we called an emergency trades council meeting for Tuesday of this week.
“This meeting was to discuss support for the Put People First protest. The Unison union health branch has already said it will help put on a coach and publicise the demonstrations.
“People need to get the TUC flyers and posters and spread the word. This is part of the national and local resistance to job cuts.”
Students who have been radicalised by the recent university occupations in solidarity with Gaza are excited about taking this spirit onto the streets alongside workers.
There is a programme of protests against the G20. The Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, British Muslim Initiative, and CND have called two anti-war protests.
The first is a march and rally in central London on the afternoon of Wednesday 1 April, and the second a protest to the conference itself on Thursday 2 April.
The message will be “Yes we can” end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, make jobs not bombs, abolish nukes, and stop arming Israel.
The British police are attempting to scare people away from the protests by declaring that they will be violent and led by a hardcore of activists.
The police have used these scare tactics before against protesters at the G8 meetings in Genoa, Italy, in 2001 and Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.
They failed then and they will fail again. Superintendent David Hartshorn told the Guardian newspaper that he fears a “summer of rage”. But people have every right to be angry over the crisis.
The next stop for activists after the G20 demonstrations is Strasbourg in France, where the anti-war movement and the trade unions are planning a series of protests against the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Nato military alliance.
Mike Arnott is member of Dundee Trades Council. He has been part of the planning process for the Strasbourg demonstrations.
Mike told Socialist Worker, “We’re calling for as many people to get to Strasbourg as possible to show the international resistance to Nato. We’ve organised coaches with Scottish Stop the War and the trade unions.
“The peace and labour movements in France and Germany are really building up for the protests. People in Spain, Greece and the US are also pushing for the biggest possible delegations.”
The authorities have already declared a “green zone” around the area where the Nato celebrations will be taking place.
But people will not let their right to protest be squashed. An international peace conference, mass protests and civil disobedience will run from 3 to 5 April.
A week of protests
28 March, London – Put People First! – Demonstrate against the G20. March for jobs, justice and climate.
1-2 April, London – Protests against the ‘war on terror’ – called by Stop the War Coalition
2-5 April, Strasbourg – Join the international demonstration and counter summit at the Nato meeting in Strasbourg, France