This morning, there was a march through the centre of Luton town and a gathering at the other end of the town centre. Members of a number of trade unions (or syndicates) participated in the march, and there were featured speeches at the gathering. Flags were waving, placards were held, whistles blowing, even some bagpipes playing, and workers' solidarity was there for all to see and hear. And I was there to offer my mere presence and support to their worthy cause and struggle!
I saw these unions represented by their placards and/or banners:
- Unison (they brought those long banners and some held triangular ones)
- Unite the Union (they brought their red banner with their name on it in white)
- Coalition of Resistance
- ATL (they brought their wide, yellow banner)
- TUC (they pinned up a wide, pink poster saying "Pensions Justice" on it) [Corrected 2nd December 2011]
- NUT (National Union of Teachers Luton branch brought their own wide, navy blue banner with a white dove holding a branch in its beak)
- Luton Trade Union Council (recognised by a wide, red banner with their name on it in yellow)
- NAPO (I saw a couple of them holding FDA leaflets).
I saw a long line of people arriving in the march (I was merely a spectator of that). The bagpipes mentioned above, plus drums and kilts, were all courtesy of the Luton Irish Forum, who were at the front of the march. I saw Gavin Shuker, the MP for the Luton South constituency, somewhere in the middle of the initial march (his speech was read out at the gathering). I saw three Socialist Workers placards there. And I saw one guy wearing a flourescent jacket with the Green party logo on (there were a few others wearing flourescent jackets, some with symbols of the unions mentioned above).
Based on my observation, I estimated about 200 people present at the gathering to hear the various speakers. The speeches were mainly about public sector cuts and how unfair they were on public sector workers, who were not responsible for the economic crisis we are in, yet could lose their jobs if the government gets its way. Also, there were speeches about teachers (who are particularly on strike today) and pensions ("It's not our fault we're living longer", to quote one of the speakers). A few Tory politicians' names were mentioned in a not so favourable context, one of them being George Osborne MP, "hiding in Brussels". And there was one poignant speech by a 68 year old trade union member, who said he was hoping to retire at 65 but couldn't, and certainly won't be able to under this "bloody government"! Not only that, he said was hoping that his four grandchildren would look after him in his old age, but with things the way are, it looks like he will have to provide for them instead!
The speeches finished at 12:50pm and the crowds started to slowly disperse from then on. Returning to the scene of the gathering, I found a white unite balloon on the ground, and took it home as a souvenir of the day (I just felt like it at that moment)!