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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 May 2018

Thousands march on TUC demo - now for coordinated action to kick out the Tories!

TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Paul Mattsson

TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Scott Jones

A huge Socialist Party "Tories Out!" banner greeted 20,000 demonstrators at the end of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) organised march and rally in central London on 12 May.

And if the main demand of the demo had been 'Tories out' instead of the vague 'A new deal for working people' then the turnout would have been huge too - possibly even hundreds of thousands.

The front of the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Sarah Wrack

The front of the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Sarah Wrack   (Click to enlarge)

Many snapped up Socialist Party placards with the same demand. The Communication Workers' Union - on the back of a massive vote for strike action, backed up by unofficial walkouts, that forced Royal Mail bosses to table an acceptable pay deal - had their own 'Tories out' placards.

Chants demanding this were made throughout by the lively Socialist Students contingent, which was joined by Tamil Solidarity and Socialist Party campaigners.

Usdaw members on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens

Usdaw members on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens   (Click to enlarge)

Pay was the other big issue. A big Usdaw shop workers' contingent was led by new president Amy Murphy, a Socialist Party member, with chants demanding a 10 an hour minimum wage and an end to zero-hour contracts.

Striking McDonald's workers marched towards the front of the demo demanding the same.

McDonald's strikers on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Paul Mattsson

McDonald's strikers on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

The PCS civil service union before the march called for it to be used to build for its upcoming national strike ballot and its contingent was one of the biggest and liveliest, reflecting the mood for action. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called for coordinated strike action in the rally afterwards.

The rally also heard from striking workers such as a TGI Fridays worker set to walkout on 18 May in London. Disgracefully though, nobody involved in the massive strikes against driver-only operation by guards in the RMT union was invited to address the rally, despite the action affecting five rail networks and the dispute on Southern Rail lasting two years.

TGI Friday workers marching on the TUC demo, 12.5.18, photo Paul Mattsson

TGI Friday workers marching on the TUC demo, 12.5.18, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Jeremy Corbyn joined marchers and spoke at the rally afterwards saying the Labour Party would "proudly support" workers who "organise together to improve their lives". This is welcome. However, as Unite general secretary Len McCluskey pointed out in his speech, there are those in Labour who don't agree and have been acting to undermine Corbyn. Labour councils in Birmingham during the bin workers strike and on Merseyside over driver-only operation on the trains have been at the forefront in attacking workers.

The Tories are weak. Coordinated action by the trade unions, linking disputes over pay, pensions and job losses could force them out, giving Corbyn and Labour a chance to win a general election. But trade unionists and workers need all Labour MPs and councils to support them and Corbyn so that a general election really could mean 'a new deal' and not more Tory and Blairite cuts and austerity.

Tamil Solidarity on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Paul Mattsson

Tamil Solidarity on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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