Wednesday 1 April was one of those days where everything suddenly came together.
The day began with the news that, following the lead of their fellow Visteon workers in Belfast, workers at the company’s plant in north London had occupied against closure. I heard the news while I was at Moorgate in the City of London, preparing to march on the Bank of England.
We set off, following one of the demonstration’s four horsemen of the apocalypse – war. The student Stop the War delegation from Scotland, en route to the anti-Nato protests in Strasbourg, brought the march alive with everyone joining in their chants.
By the time we got to our destination we were in our thousands, chanting “jump” at the bankers watching from above and testing the cops as we pushed on towards the bank’s main entrance.
It was a great protest. The Scottish students and I managed to avoid being “contained” by the police. We left before the police cordon closed and joined the anti-war march from the US embassy.
The day seemed to form one whole. Whatever action people took, they were united in the belief that we should not have to pay to rescue capitalism. Everyone who heard about Visteon was enthused.
The howl of media rage against the City protests was far more muted than that which greeted anti-capitalist demonstrations earlier this decade. This is because popular feeling is now against the bankers.
Together, the Visteon workers and the protesters have shown the potential to create an army of resistance with the capacity to win.
Of course, it’s still only potential. The Put People First demonstration, which involved tens of thousands of trade unionists, on Saturday 28 March had shown the strengths and weaknesses. The overwhelming majority of those present under the age of 25 were not part of the trade union delegations. They marched with the NGOs, anti-war groups and other campaign bodies.
But there is no division between the workers occupying at Visteon, trade unionists marching against the G20, and those demonstrating in the City or outside the US embassy.
Millions of people are angry that the bosses and the politicians want to make us pay for this crisis.
The capitalists want to divide us. The right wing press claims that those without pensions should blame public sector workers, who will supposedly have a great life in retirement.
They say workers without permanent contracts should blame the “privileged” who have them and “enjoy” hard won benefits accordingly. And they urge us to blame migrant workers for our ills.
The trick is to overcome that and build on the desire for a united fight over jobs.
In the first place, this means ensuring that the actions of workers at Visteon, Prisme, Waterford Crystal and other places in occupation become known across Britain. We have to push the argument that people must occupy their place of work to defeat attacks on jobs.
Secondly it means building to ensure the Unite union’s demonstration over jobs in Birmingham on Saturday 16 May is simply massive.
It’s in an area facing serious job losses, particularly in the car plants, and one being targeted by the fascist BNP in the upcoming Euro elections.
A united demonstration in one of Britain’s most multiracial cities can provide another stepping stone towards a united job fight.
Third, we need to unite round every aspect of resistance.
Lastly, this summer hundreds of thousands of people will leave school and college. They will face dole queues or dead end jobs. Many will have demonstrated against war or other issues, some will have occupied their college for Gaza. They can be a fighting force for change.
Those on the right, such as the BNP, will seek to profit from the discontent that burns. The left and the wider working class movement must ensure that peoples’ anger is unleashed on the right targets.
When we marched against mass unemployment years ago we chanted, “We are black, we are white, together we are dynamite.” On 1 April the forces of resistance might have been separated by location, but taken together it felt like we were dynamite.
March for jobs
Saturday 16 May, Birmingham city centre
Join the Unite union’s national demonstration to save jobs in the manufacturing sector