The Wales TUC train to London is packed with 650 trade unionists, politicians and activists, reports Seb Cooke.
Workers representing unions from Unite, UCU, PCS, Prospect, Napo GMB and others are here. The atmosphere is fantastic.
As well as trade unions there are also community group like Cardiff people first a disabled rights group in Cardiff. There are also politicians including Owen Smith MP for Pontypridd and Mick Antonio assembly member.
Petitions on naming the day for a general strike have been flying round and have been signed by almost everyone.
More than 400 people got on a 5.30am train this morning from Newcastle funded by the TUC, reports Mike Dixon.
There’s also a coach heading to London from Newcastle with campaigners from Keep Our NHS Public—pensioners, unemployed and students.
The Leeds trades council coach has Occupy activists and quite a few unemployed workers on our coach, including some in the Unite unemployed workers' branch, reports Steve Johnston. The two Unison coaches that left in front of it had 45 each.
There are CWU and NUT members too and quite a few students. Lots have got Usdaw 'Still Hate Thatcher' badges.
Five coaches from the Barnsley area are on their way to London, with many more protesters taking chartered trains from Leeds and Sheffield.
Tony Rushforth, a bus driver in the Unite union who struck and won in Barnsley earlier this year, said, 'Every part of the working class needs to be here to show opposition to this government's austerity programme and its attacks on working people.
“I believe we need a general strike to retaliate against their attacks.”
Frank Parham is assistant branch secretary of the PCS union in Barnsley.
“The public sector has already had cuts that hurt,” he said. “But the cuts to come are going to cause even worse hardship for workers and for the vulnerable in society.
“It's absolutely imperative that we make our voices heard against this—and what better way to do that than marching today with thousands of others.”
Ralph Dyson and Jill Adams are teachers in Rotherham, south Yorkshire. Jill told Socialist Worker, “Today’s the start of the fightback. We need a general strike now.”
Ralph said teachers were marching “to fight for our kids’ futures”.
Gill Garnett, Unison health branch secretary from Rotherham, is also travelling to the march. “We’re here to stand up for people’s rights and to keep public services public,” she said.
Protesters gathered in south London to join a feeder march to the main TUC demonstration.
Fiona Twycross brought the Dulwich and West Norwood Labour Party banner. She told Socialist Worker, “We want to send a strong signal that the government’s austerity measures aren’t working.”
But she added that Labour would make cuts if it got elected, something not everyone would agree with.
Sara from the NUT union and Adrian from the UCU union addressed the crowd. “We’re proud to have led strikes against the government,” Sara said. Adrian added, “We are all in this together in the trade union movement. We need to think about our next steps and organising a general strike.”
Student feeder march
Hundreds are getting ready to join the main demonstration from outside ULU in central London. The student-organised feeder march has brought together students, lecturers and other trade unionists from across the country.
Jake from Westminster university said, “This is the first protest I’ve been on. The government is destroying our lives. Everyone is struggling, my dad lost his job last month.
“To be honest I’ve had enough, they’ve got to be stopped.'
Chants of “no ifs, not buts, no education cuts” are ringing out.
Read more of our 20 October coverage