A hundred thousand workers from across Europe surged through Brussels as part of the European TUC day of action against austerity.
Workers from at least 20 different countries marched in the deserted main streets of Brussels on 29 September, united against the rich and their economic austerity programme. The Spanish were absent—for the honourable reason that they were engaged in their own general strike.
Romanian policemen who hadn't been paid for months, were joined by teachers and gas workers.
Solidarnosc and other Polish union federations, slotted in ahead of CGT and CFDT battalions from France.
Young local Belgian workers taunted the idle riot police with chants familiar to any football fan.
German miners in distinctive white cotton suits mingled with Italian and Finnish contingents.
The British contingent was dominated by a strong presence from the RMT rail union, but members of most British unions were there—the PCS, NUJ, POA, TSSA, UCU, NUT, CWU, Unite, Unison and others, along with the National Pensioners Convention.
The international unity was highly impressive.
It was marvellous at times to feel so much noise, colour and determination from workers committed to fighting the expectation that they should pay for the recession.
Nick Grant, National Union of Teachers
Protests around Britain
Protests also took place around Britain as part of the European trade union day of action.
“Around 400 protested in Dundee,” says Arthur Nicoll, services and conditions officer for Dundee City Unison. “It was called by Dundee Trades council, the shop stewards’ liaison committee in the council and backed by Right to Work.
“A large number of council workers were joined by civil service workers in the PCS union. The Unison branch of police staff also came along. An FBU rep was one of the speakers at the rally.”
In Brighton hundreds marched against cuts and rallied at Brighton Town Hall.
Alex Knutsen, Brighton and Hove Unison union branch secretary, said, “These cuts are avoidable and we want the government to listen to that message.”
In Manchester more than 150 staff, patients and supporters joined a lunchtime protest outside Manchester's MRI hospital, reports Mark Krantz.
Tony Lloyd, Labour MP for Central Manchester, told the protesters, “There are millions who agree with you, there are millions who stand behind you in your fight.”
Mari, who works at the children’s hospital, told Socialist Worker, “What we need is a one day strike across the public sector. That would make them listen.”
In Birmingham, Unison members and supporters carried a coffin through the streets to symbolise the death of public services.
See next week’s Socialist Worker for a full round up