Socialist Worker

Voices from the Put People First protest

A number of protesters on last Saturday's Put People First march spoke to Socialist Worker about the issues at stake when the G20 meets this week – and about why they were demonstrating

Issue No. 2145

Arthur Shaw from the RMT transport union

We're here to try and change things, but maybe we'll need more direct action. We don't demonstrate enough. People are moaning about everything when they watch the news – but they need to be on the streets. This is not just about the bankers – it's about the war in Iraq, about Palestine and the greed of the rich.

Lucy, a student from the People And Planet society at Cardiff university

Climate change is the biggest issue – but I am concerned about everything that's going on, about capitalism. I like to think that the election of Barak Obama will make a difference, I try to be optimistic, but I'm not sure it really will unless we keep the pressure on. I hope our protests make world leaders listen.

Neil Prosser, GMB union shop steward at South Wales Remploy

We're here to defend the right to work. Around 2,500 disabled Remploy workers have lost their jobs and most are now on benefits. Many face the prospect of never working again. We want our factories reopened.

Donald McNaughton, Unison member currently taking indefinite strike action in Glasgow

We're here to highlight the cutbacks in Glasgow council that mean we work longer hours for less pay. The strike is still going strong and we've had a lot of support from trade unionists. We all have to stick together.

Monique, 15 year school student from London

I think climate change is the biggest issue we face. After all, it will affect everyone on the planet. Too many people our age think they can't do anything, but in a group we can make a real difference.

Hull GMB official

We're here to make people aware of what's going on. I used to deal with things like disciplinaries but now I'm dealing with redundancies on a daily basis – in steel, construction, manufacturing. The government should have taken action to stop this happening in the first place.

HSBC worker in the Unite union

The government should take away the big bonuses from the bankers. Ordinary bank workers can only get a £2,000 maximum bonus, yet our targets are going up every year. Bank bosses such as Fred Goodwin get millions. But bank cashiers are only on around £12,000-£14,000 a year.

Antonio Morandi from the CGIL union in Italy

Around 80 of us are here from the CGIL. We are protesting against the economic crisis, against capitalism and against the financial system. We want to protect the rights of European workers. It's especially bad for young people at the moment – with longer working hours, low pay and precarious jobs. We have also protested in Italy but it's very important that we are in London today for the G20.

Daniel Hargrave from Wakefield TSSA rail union

We're not willing to be pushed over by capitalism. The system we've got now isn't working.

Joe Brennan from the CWU union

There are so many reasons to be here. We want justice for people here and all over the world. We want to use the strength of the union to fight for rights for us and for other people. It's disgusting that there are rich people who pay less tax than me. They should make the rich pay more.

Kate & Francis, teachers in the NUT union

We want everyone to have access to education – not just here but around the world. The government is pushing academy schools to pass the buck. People are running schools with no experience and it's about making money. There aren't enough resources put into education.

Tom, a casino worker in the GMB union

The government has printed all this new money, but where is it? How can we get our hands on it? We need stricter banking laws but we're unlikely to get them because the government is hand in hand with the rich – it's all about jobs for the boys. When they tried quantitative easing in Japan the banks just sat on the money. They've given all this money to the rich and it might not even work.

Lesley Salt, branch secretary Barnsley & Rotherham PCS civil service workers' union

We want jobs for the people. We just want the government to listen to the people – look how many people are here today. They're closing down job centre plus offices all over the place and so many people are losing their jobs.

Jo Parry from the RMT transport workers' union

The main reason we're here today is to say, it's your crisis, not ours. Every company on the railways is laying people off. But managers are still getting bonuses. It seems the government is past listening. We need a change but what change is on offer? We need more demonstrations to show that we can fight.

Donnacha DeLong, member of the national executive of the National Union of Journalists

The NUJ is here to show solidarity with other unions. We face our own crisis in the media and it's similar to the banking crisis – deregulation, massive bonuses for those at the top and cuts for everyone else. Today shows that people aren't willing to take it and that everyone, whatever their background, can come together.

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Article information

Tue 31 Mar 2009, 20:31 BST
Issue No. 2145
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