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My March for the Alternative

4 April 2011

Saturday 26 March 2011 is a day etched in all our memories, a clear message given by many to the Coalition Government that we are not going to sit back and watch whilst they cut the very lifeline of our communities, and take away employment at a time when we need it the most.

Saturday 26 March 2011 is a day etched in all our memories, a clear message given by many to the Coalition Government that we are not going to sit back and watch whilst they cut the very lifeline of our communities, and take away employment at a time when we need it the most. On that cold Saturday morning after months of planning, co-ordinating and organising by the TUC, around 500,000 trade unions members, full-time officials and social groups lined up at Embankment along the banks of the River Thames in London to show the government that we're all against the unnecessary cuts that they are trying to enforce.

After meeting at Walkden house we made our way on the London Underground to Charing Cross station, the tubes were jam packed with demonstrators, the purple flags of Unison, red and white of TSSA, and green of the RMT lined the platforms. We walked together to Zone 11 of embankment and arriving at 11am it was a sight that took your breath away, a vast array of people lined up ready to start, at the front.

Ed Milliband leader of the Labour Party gave a rallying speech condemning the cuts, which was also backed by a majority vote of 52 per cent in favour of the march from Labour, Tories and Conservative MPs. What lay ahead of us was five miles of London roads past landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, No 10 Downing Street and Trafalgar Square before arriving in Hyde Park to the rally where we made our voices heard.

The noise of the demonstration echoed for miles around due to the brass bands, the thousands upon thousands of whistles and vuvuzelas, and the shouting and cheering. Many of the general public stopped to watch the army of people pass by, taking pictures and waving, showing their support, man, woman, child from all walks of life, from different backgrounds all in this together.??

TSSA was out in force stood united against a common enemy the Coalition Government with our colleagues from the RMT, a joint banner and their brass band leading us forward.? Around 300 TSSA members, activists, reps, and full time officials attended the march, all wearing matching red t-shirts with the slogans "All in this together...against the cuts" and "All together for public services", an army of red and white helium-filled balloons, flags and banners. We handed out leaflets telling the passers by who we are and why we were marching.

??So why were we doing this? It's simple: TSSA is about organising for our members and backing you in any way we can. By attending the march we were representing all our members and saying No! to job cuts, No! to public service cuts, there is an alternative to change the economy: jobs, growth and justice. Not cutting our jobs and public services.

The march was long, and tiring but we pushed on through the day, feet hurting, and stomach's rumbling, we marched forward, stopping for short periods while the police were blocking roads off and stopping traffic ahead, but then moving on, pushing forward, still shouting and making as much noise as we could to make sure we were heard.

Around Trafalgar Square demonstrators stood on top of statues of heroes of long-ago resolved wars, holding their banners high. Lord Nelson stood atop his vast column, which was surrounded at the base by protesters who were taking a well-deserved rest.

Local businesses shut for the day, others locked their doors as we passed, understandably after the chaos of past marches, but we were not there to cause trouble, we were just there to get our voices heard.

Unfortunately trouble did flare late in the afternoon, a small group of around 200 protestors occupied shops on Oxford Street, hurled objects at police officers and damaged property, nearly but not succeeding in wrecking the good work that the TUC had put into making the march what it was.

As a TSSA rep and also a member I urge you all to attend future marches so we can wave more flags, more banners and make more noise.

I'm proud I attended the March for the Alternative and did my bit for our members.? ?After the march TSSA members met back at a Euston Square pub, to discuss the outcomes and success of the march, and to have some light refreshments.

I made an announcement about a trip to be made to Cuba by myself and two other TSSA delegates on 27 April 2011 as part of the Cuban Solidarity Campaign's May Day brigade, which gives us the chance to visit local hospitals, schools and local Cuban people to witness first hand the effects that living under a US blockade has on them, and how they cope.

I'm happy to report that a collection was passed around the room to raise funds so we can take footballs, stationary and basic medication with us and we raised a staggering £227.00. I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to all those who donated, it is much appreciated.

We have also got some branches of TSSA interested in supporting us, but if anyone would like to make a donation then please do so, as the more gifts we take the more goodwill and cheer we can spread. If you would like to make a donation please email me and I will pass on details of how to make your donation.?

Steven Neagle

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