Anger is growing at West Midlands police over their decision to prevent demonstrators marching past the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on Sunday 3 October.
The route was agreed weeks previously in a meeting between police, Birmingham council and the Right to Work group, but the cops have gone back on it.
Now Birmingham Right to Work has launched a statement against the change.
MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leadership challenger Ed Balls and Unite union deputy general secretary Len McCluskey have already signed it.
Joining the call to let the marchers bring their message directly to the Tories are Birmingham Labour councillor Ian Cruise (who is also political officer for Birmingham CWU union), Labour councillor Chaman Lal and leading activists from local branches of the NUT, UCU, Unite, Nasuwt and Unison unions—and Birmingham trades council.
It’s not acceptable for the police and the authorities to attempt to sideline demonstrations in this way.
Last year a protest supported by Right to Work marched right in front of Labour’s conference, when the party was in government. Why can’t the same happen with the Tories this year?
Further talks were planned with the police this week. Whatever happens, the attempts to restrict the march have simply spurred people to build the protest to be even bigger.
The demonstration is backed by three national trade unions—the PCS, NUJ and UCU—the Labour Representation Committee and numerous local trade union, community and campaigning organisations.
Socialist Worker joined Right to Work activists building the protest in north west London.
At the ColArt paint factory in Wealdstone, workers are battling against the closure of their factory and to save 200 jobs.
They want to bring staff from the factory to the protest and get support for their campaign.
“Despite making our bosses over £5 million in profit last year they want to throw us out,” Peter Mead, Unite union senior rep, told Socialist Worker.
“They convinced us to take a pay freeze last year and to increase the portion we pay into our pension. Now it’s the sack.”
The union is linking up with the local community to fight the closure and is considering balloting for industrial action.
“The local school and shops are putting up posters,” Peter said. “The guy who runs the local chip shop has agreed to take leaflets into his mosque.
“We have to fight. There’s one woman here who has worked at the factory since the 1970s. We have whole families who work here.
“We are also building solidarity with the workers at the factory in France where bosses want to send the work.”
At Alperton bus depot we met Unite union rep Dave Turnbull.
“I’m coming on the demo,” Dave said as soon as the leaflets were produced.
“We will get bus drivers to come along. We’re feeling the pinch—overtime has been cut, breaks are watched and new starters are being told there is no wage progression. We are even losing our canteen.
“It isn’t just at work that you feel it. The new free schools and academies will be terrible and it is hard to find work—my daughter was sacked with a week’s notice when they shut a refugee and asylum support unit in Whitechapel.
“The government and the bosses are trying to claw every little bit of money they can back from us. It’s our democratic right to march past the conference. I’ll take the statement around the garage for everyone to sign.”
Leaflets and posters were also taken at the Willesden Junction bus depot, where workers invited Right to Work to address their next branch meeting.
Sunday 3 October must be the day we bring the anger against the Tories onto the streets.
Download a petition to support Col Art workers at www.unitetheunion.org/campaigns/help_keep_colart_s_wealdstone.aspx
Find out about coaches to the Birmingham demonstration and download materials at www.righttowork.org.uk