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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 October 2008

Trade union protesters say...

"Give us what the bankers got"

Linda Taaffe of the National Shop Stewards Network interviewed at the protest outside Bank of England, photo Paul Mattsson

Linda Taaffe of the National Shop Stewards Network interviewed at the protest outside Bank of England, photo Paul Mattsson

ON THE same day that four big banks came cap in hand to the government for a 60 billion taxpayers' bailout - and got it - supporters of the London Shop Stewards Network gathered outside the Bank of England with placards, banners and leaflets.

Linda Taaffe, secretary, London Shop Stewards Network

We were appealing to City workers to get organised, ready for a fightback over the prospect of 62,000 job losses in the City over the next two years. We were not appealing to top bankers - whose chief executives take home 2-4 million a year - or to city traders who squandered obscene amounts of wealth in the "good times".

We were speaking to the 40,000 cleaners and caterers, who keep the city clean, fed and watered but suffer rock-bottom pay, long hours and few benefits; to the office and clerical staff; and to the building and maintenance workers. No job is safe - manual or professional.

We created quite a stir as we assembled noisily, with slogans of "jail - not bail" for the bankers; and "give us what the bankers got." A group of school students, obviously on an educational visit stopped and listened and, echoing our chants, rather innocently asked, "Well, where has the money gone?"

Such questions will be burning issues for thousands of young people as they face the prospect of mass unemployment in a few years. Hopefully they will remember this demo and draw the conclusion that they need to join a union and fight back.

National Shop Stewards Network protest outside Bank of England, photo Paul Mattsson

National Shop Stewards Network protest outside Bank of England, photo Paul Mattsson

The media - local London press and radio, national press, Japanese TV and the BBC world service - were there. They all snapped our City 'fat cat' crying into his champagne, and were particularly eager to get shots of our Grim Reaper outside the Bank of England threatening to fell world capitalism.

The problem is that the Grim Reaper may well have capitalism in his sights but it is going to take organised action to bring about any real change. And to do that workers have to build strong unions. In the Shop Stewards Network we are playing our part in helping to revitalise the unions.

After the rally, we marched past the Royal Bank of Scotland and yelled out: "Say thank you for the 20 million!" We made our way up to Liverpool Street, where lots of workers were out at lunchtime and standing along the route, taking Network leaflets.

National Shop Stewards Network protest outside Bank of England, photo Paul Mattsson

National Shop Stewards Network protest outside Bank of England, photo Paul Mattsson

The famous artist Tracey Emin was, by chance, coming out of Liverpool Street station and greeted us enthusiastically, saying that it was about time people started kicking up a fuss. We agree, and are ready to organise other events in the future.

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In The Socialist 15 October 2008:

Sack the bankers not the workers

"Give us what the bankers got"

News in brief

Socialist Party editorial

Government bailouts: major measures to prop up capitalism

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Recession in Britain: Anger and bitterness towards the financiers

Repossessions grow as banking crisis hits

Socialism 2008

Capitalism in crisis: Why you should come to Socialism 2008

Socialist Party campaigns

Political protest in Liverpool will not be silenced!

Mandelson - New minister for the rich

Planning Bill: Local views sidelined for big business

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