ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Londres défile contre l’austérité
by Peter Avis
Translated Monday 29 October 2012, by Bill Scobleand reviewed by
Tens of thousands of Britons demonstrated in the major cities on Oct. 20 to condemn the austerity policy.
From our correspondent in London.
More than 150,000 people, including whole families, answered the trade union call to demonstrate in Great Britain on Oct. 20. In London, Glasgow and Belfast they expressed the same rejection of the austerity policy of the government, which is determined, despite its unpopularity, to impose severe austerity measures.
In London, where some 100,000 people participated in an hours-long march, a big rally was held in Hyde Park at Speakers’ Corner, the historic venue for popular movements. Everywhere, the demonstration’s slogans – “Austerity doesn’t work” and “Britain needs a future that works” – filled the streets and the royal park beneath a sunny sky.
The march brought together firemen, teachers, nurses, students and the unemployed – all those who lack work or who are suffering from the wage freeze and the attack on retirement pensions.
Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, made an unusual appearance in Hyde Park to participate in the popular demonstration. He attacked the “excessive” austerity imposed by the Tory-Lib-Dem coalition, while warning the trade unionists that a Labour government would have to “make difficult decisions.” These words were instantly booed by a portion of the demonstrators.
The most-applauded speakers – the leaders of the rail workers and public services trade unions – demanded that the TUC trade union confederation organize a 24-hour strike to transmit the anti-austerity message even more loudly and strongly. Internationalist traditions are well-rooted among the British trade unionists. Greetings from leaders of the CGIL in Italy and the AFL-CIO in the U.S. were broadcast in Hyde Park, where the presence of representatives of the French CGT and the South African trade union confederation was warmly welcomed.
Unemployment: Obfuscation with numbers.
The official figure for unemployment in Great Britain – 2.53 million jobless (7.9%) conceals an uncomfortable truth: increasingly, those who work must accept part-time jobs. Over a million workers are in this situation. The number of long-term unemployed is rising and over a million 16-to-24-year-olds are out of work (a 21% unemployment rate). Unemployment is hitting women particularly hard, whereas the figures show a slight improvement for men.