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Posted on 24 October 2011 at 17:13 GMT

Coventry rally - The Jarrow march is on its way!

Lenny Shail, Coventry Youth Fight for Jobs organiser
Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow marchers arrive in Coventry, photo Lenny Shail

Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow marchers arrive in Coventry, photo Lenny Shail   (Click to enlarge)

Coventry was once a city famed for the prosperity of its working class people. It was said you could leave one job in the morning and have another by the evening. Today there are over 10,000 people looking for work, including 3,000 youth.

Over 100 young people, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners joined the Jarrow marchers on a demonstration in Coventry on Saturday 22 October.

Assembling on the cathedral steps, the marchers met hundreds of potential Coventry University students on the campus grounds opposite for an open day.

These young people will be the first to face 7,500-9,000 a year fees at the university.

Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March 2011 arrives in Coventry, photo by Lenny Shail

Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March 2011 arrives in Coventry, photo by Lenny Shail   (Click to enlarge)

Ian Pattison, an unemployed marcher from Leeds, sent the demo on its way with a rousing speech on the need for young people to fight for a future.

The demo made its way through the city centre, gathering passers-by and shoppers in support of the marchers' demands and slogans.

These included the chant: "Decent jobs on decent pay - the Jarrow March is on its way".

An impromptu stop and short rally at the central fountain brought the city centre and shoppers to a standstill.

I appealed for support for the march. Coventry Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist gave an inspiring speech to the hundreds who gathered to listen.

He highlighted the fight of the heroes of the original Jarrow Crusade 75 years ago. But he also explained the plight so many people in Coventry currently face in terms of poor housing, education cuts and fees, and lack of jobs and services, urging people to support and join the fightback.

Dave pointed out that the main three parties want to put the cost of the economic crisis on the heads of working people.

He finished by appealing for people to come to London on 5 November as the Jarrow march finishes.

The demo continued and finished with a packed and bouncing indoor rally with activists from Warwick and Coventry Universities and from the PCS, UCU, Unison, TSSA, Unite, NUT, FBU and CWU trade unions.

Ben Sprung, London FBU firefighters' union regional organiser gave support and solidarity, mentioning the scrapping of EMA and tripling of student fees.

Raul Lagunas, a local DWP rep gave support from the PCS and highlighted the importance and significance of 30 November.

Jane Nellist, joint secretary of Coventry NUT and secretary of Coventry TUC, said it was a privilege to join with the Jarrow marchers and spoke of the importance of young people joining and getting active in trade unions.

She finished by saying: "Don't make public sector workers work until they drop - give young people a job and a future!"

Rob Windsor, former Socialist Party councillor, and a local Unison member and Coventry council housing worker gave their solidarity and support for the march's demands for a house building and renovating programme to create jobs and homes.

Sarah Wrack, national press officer for Youth Fight for Jobs, ended the rally with a stirring speech.

She explained that YFJ stands in solidarity with all those fighting back including those on the Hardest Hit demos and the OccupyLSX campaign and other movements against cuts across the world.

The marchers ended the day with fantastic hospitality and food at the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Coventry, arranged by local TSSA rail union rep Manjit Gill.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 24 October 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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