Hundreds of people joined an online rally against the “job loss nightmare” on Halloween.
The People Before Profit alliance’s rally brought together Labour MPs, trade unionists and campaigners on the day the Tories were set to end the furlough scheme. The move would leave hundreds of thousands of people facing mass unemployment just as the Tories announced another national lockdown.
The Tories announced later on Saturday that the furlough scheme would be extended until the start of December.
Labour MP John McDonnell slammed the Tories’ failure to suppress coronavirus. “This pandemic has hit us hard—food banks overflowing with demand, unemployment, wages being cut by exploitative employers,” he said.
“People being forced back to work being forced to choose between health and hardship.
“The government is cutting the support and about to impose some sort of national lockdown for at least a month—too late in my view.”
McDonnell added that he “wholeheartedly supports the campaign” and “workers taking industrial action to defend jobs and living standards”. He called on people to fight “so when we have to go into forms of lockdown there is proper financial support—not to prop up profits but to protect our people”.
Author Michael Rosen spent months in hospital with the virus. “Let’s remember that in February and March the World Health organisation warned our governments as to what was coming,” he said.
“When I got ill, I couldn’t be tested because the system wasn’t up and running—and even now it’s chaotic and hopeless.”
The online rally took place as supporters of People Before Profit campaigned on the streets of towns and cities. Speaking from the streets of Manchester, NHS nurse Karen Reissmann said, “Together we need to say to our governments, this is a case between people and profit.
“We know the government puts profit first time and time again.
“We will keep on fighting until we win that battle and get rid of this disgraceful government.”
At the online rally Andy Burnham, Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, attacked the Tories’ job support measures for areas under lockdown. “How can anyone justify that there are people in Greater Manchester who cannot go to their place of work and they’re only deemed to be worth two thirds of their wages,” he said.
“Earlier, when there was a national lockdown, people were on four fifths. How on earth can that be justified.”
From a protest in Glasgow, the rally heard from Angela McCormick, an EIS education union member and chair of the local coronavirus action group. “It’s really important that we’re all connected,” she said, “that we’re all standing together.
“We’re here today in the wet and the wind as part of Glasgow Covid-19 action group and our plan is to continue the opposition to the Tory nightmare.
“The Tory nightmare that we’ve been living through for years and they want to add more pain and fear.”
Protests also took place in Southwark and Brixton in south London, Chatham in Kent, Harlow in Essex, Nottingham, Sheffield, Nottingham, Rotherham and other towns and cities.