From the TUC

We are the people. We demand a Better Way.

01 Oct 2011, By

October 1st, People FirstDavid Cameron likes to talk about creating the Big Society. What he doesn’t get is that we already have a Big Society, and it will be represented today on the People 1st demo in Glasgow.

Today, the Trade Union Movement is marching side by side with faith groups, equality organisations, community campaigners, pensioners and students.  We are marching with people from all walks of life to tell the Coalition and their acolytes that we do not intend to stand idly by and let them wreck our economy and our public services, destroy our jobs and communities or abandon those who are most in need.

We are taking to the streets because we refuse to accept that austerity is necessary or just. 

What is just about 200,000 people in Scotland unemployed? What is just about thousands of young people without hope for the future? What is just about child and pensioner poverty? What is just about pay freezes; pension cuts; or £20 billion worth of benefit cuts?

And what is just about the bank bosses who crippled their companies and our economy paying themselves huge salaries; excessive bonuses and massive pensions? Where is the justice in large corporations making billions in profit, going out of their way to avoid paying tax and then moaning that they are overtaxed?

The message we will deliver today is that there is an alternative to austerity, an alternative that is just and fair.

The alternative is investment. Get the economy growing again, get people back to work; and the deficit will take care of itself. The alternative is the redistribution of wealth through fair taxation and a living wage. The alternative is decent services, fair benefits and stronger communities.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the UCS work in and the 30th anniversary of the Lee Jeans sit in. In both of these disputes workers were told that there was no alternative to closure and redundancy.

They refused to accept what they were being told – that their industries, their jobs, their communities had no future – that they had to “move with the times”; that they had to “live in the real world”. They refused to accept “the inevitable” and they stood up and fought back.

UCS and Lee Jeans, and industrial struggles before and after, were about the right to work; they were about the survival of communities, they were about the demand for economic and social justice. These demands united the people and they unite us today.

We are marching today because we refuse to accept what we are being told. We refuse to accept that there is no alternative to austerity. But more than that, we refuse to accept the consequences austerity – the consequences for the economy of course, but also the corrosive and destructive consequences for our society.

We are marching today because we don’t want to live in a society where young people have no hope; where the sick cannot be properly cared for; where exploitation and insecurity haunt our workplaces, where solidarity and community mean nothing.

We are for a society where those in need can rely on others for help. We are for better public services and a strong economy. We are for jobs and fair pay, in work and in retirement – not just in the public sector, but across the board.

We are the people. And the people demand a better way.

You can follow the People First October 1st demonstration on Twitter @forabetterway, #p1oct1 #people1st  #oct1st or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/forabetterway.  For more information, visit www.thereisabetterway.org.

GUEST POST: Grahame Smith is General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the national trade union centre for Scotland, which represents over 640,000 trade unionists, the members of 37 affiliated trade unions and 22 Trades Union Councils.