AROUND 500 manufacturing workers marched through Birmingham on Saturday on a march called by the TGWU, GMB, Amicus and other trade unions. They were marching to protest against the decline of manufacturing industry. Contingents from Land Rover, Vauxhall, Alstom and other workplaces in the Midlands marched behind their union banners.
A group of about 30 workers from Euro Packaging-mainly Asian workers who are striking for decent pay and union recognition-were warmly received. Nadeem, a member of the GPMU union at Euro Packaging, told the rally, "I've worked there for six years without a pay rise. We've been on strike and have received lots of support. We are demanding our rights."
Another Euro Packaging worker told Socialist Worker, "We want to stand together with others in the manufacturing industry. Our problems are the same, our thinking is the same. We will do everything we can to save our jobs. We will not lay down easily-we are going to put up a fight."
A large delegation of Amicus members from Alstom, one of only two train manufacturers left in Britain, brought a model of a train in a glass coffin to the march.
David, an Alstom worker, told Socialist Worker, "They have told us they want to close the plant. People are leaving every week. If Alstom closes there will be nothing left for us-whole families have worked there. I'm really disappointed that New Labour won't listen to us."
Protesters heard speeches from Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson, GMB deputy general secretary Debbie Coulter and TGWU general secretary Tony Woodley. They all called on New Labour to take action to halt the decline of manufacturing.