A GROUP of young, unemployed activists last Saturday strode proudly into Trafalgar Square at the end of a 330-mile march from Jarrow in the north-east of England to London in protest at the lack of jobs and Con-Dem Coalition cuts that are “affecting everyone apart from the rich”.
The march began on 1st October and gathered support all the way along to be a couple of thousand strong by the time it reached Trafalgar Square. It was re-creating the famous Jarrow march of the unemployed from 1936 and the marchers delivered a petition to Downing Street as they passed on their way to the Square.
All the way along logistics support from trade unions, especially PCS, GMB, FBU and RMT, provided food, accommodation and transport of baggage for the young marchers.
The rally in Trafalgar Square was addressed by Chris Baugh on behalf of the PCS union, Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, former AEI worker Ian Harris, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and RMT secretary Bob Crow.
And one of the marchers, Lizi Grey, whose great grandfather, Michael McLoughlin, had been on the original Jarrow march, also addressed the crowd.
The 17-year-old college student from Gateshead said: "The stories I've heard from his son – my grandfather – were that they were very well received in all of the towns that they went to, and we have had the same experience.
"I think a lot of that has to do with communities feeling that the cuts are starting to bite and it's affecting everyone apart from the rich and the people making the decisions."
She added: "It's taken us five weeks to march the whole 330 miles but it feels amazing."
Chris Baugh spoke on the effects of the current “biggest attack on the working class since the 1920s”.
He also spoke of the build up to the national strike of public sector workers on 30th of the month and the Government’s attempt to undermine support for it with a bogus offer of a “better” deal. “It’s like have £10 stolen from you and being offered £1 back”.
Then he warned that the battle is not just about the pensions robbery and not just about the fight for a decent wage.
“We must reach out to the millions of unorganised workers in the public and private sectors,” he said.
Ian Harris spoke about the AEI factory where he had worked for many years that was closed suddenly “with no procedure at all”, no notice and no redundancy money. “The tax payers had to pick up the bill for that,” he said.
MP Stephen Hepburn paid tribute to the dedication and enthusiasm of the marchers and to those occupying the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral.
“That’s where the cancer is,” he said, “In the City of London.” And he pointed out the similarity of the attitudes of rich bankers in the City in the 1930s and now – only now “with a computer switch they can put hundreds out of work and put hundreds of families into misery”.
Bob Crow and Matt Wrack both spoke about the socialist alternative to the capitalist system and of unity with workers all over the world where similar cuts are being made and working class resistance is growing.
Claire Laker, a PCS officer from Mansfield, also addressed the rally.
“Young people have shown that far from being lazy or scroungers, they want a future with decent jobs and education,” she said.
"The marchers have received huge support up and down the country. People have fed them, put them up and made it clear they back our demands."
She continued: "We think it is unfair that in the 21st century, young people are facing long-term unemployment.”There are almost a million young people out of work, and the jobs market is not getting any better."