Socialist Worker

Seize the chance to rage at job losses on 16 May

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2145

Unite, Britain's biggest union, has called a march for jobs in Birmingham on Saturday 16 May.

It is a chance for workers – employed and unemployed – to take to the streets and rage against the destruction of jobs and communities.

The march has to be made into a launchpad for action to halt the jobs slaughter.

Tony Woodley, Unite's joint general secretary, said, 'The government should be bankrolling jobs, not the bankers.

'This will be a national demonstration, to be held in the middle of the country, in the area which is still the heartland of British manufacturing.

'We cannot carry on seeing the government allow the market to determine how many manufacturing jobs will survive. The market has collapsed and we need government intervention.'

The national demonstration cannot come soon enough. Unemployment has topped two million – and David Blanchflower, a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, has predicted it could rise to four million by 2011.

Unemployment rates for those aged 18 to 24 are already more than double the overall rate.


In three months time 600,000 people will leave full-time education, with many having no prospect of getting a decent job, a fulfilling college place or proper training. Instead, many will face low pay or dead-end and business-based courses.

Every trade unionist, every worker facing redundancies or pay cuts, every unemployed person, everyone angry and bitter about the working class being made to pay for the crisis has to be in Birmingham on 16 May.

It can be part of creating a positive alternative to the scapegoating of immigrants over job losses, and help to undermine the fascist BNP in the run up to the European elections on 4 June.

Every union should get behind the march, and Unite should offer them places on the platform and joint sponsorship.

Workers will judge harshly any union leader who puts the 'status of their organisation' before the need to come together to fight the effects of the recession.

Every union branch and trades council must book transport and throw it open to everyone, including unemployed people and students.

It was a mistake for Unite to launch the demo on Tuesday with Lord Digby Jones, the former head of the CBI bosses' organisation, at the press conference.

Alliances with bosses and former government ministers won't save jobs – but activity, struggle and action can.

The union leaders must be pushed to support the fightback now, and to encourage workers to resist rather than surrender.

But these criticisms should not hold anyone back for a second from starting to organise now for the demonstration. The angrier and bigger the march on 16 May, the more resistance it can spark.

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