Thousands of campaigners and trade unionists gathered this weekend to attend an anti-austerity protest ahead of the forthcoming Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
The protest, which took place on Saturday, was organised by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) and the People’s Assembly.
Union leaders, local MPs and officials from campaign groups addressed the rally in Victoria Square before leading the march through the city centre.
A statement from the TUC said that the demonstration was organised to highlight how austerity policies have affected Birmingham City Council, with budgets being cut by 40%.
Organiser of the event, policy and campaigns officer for TUC Midlands Rob Johnston, said:
“People in the Midlands are at the sharp end of austerity policies.
“The austerity agenda has failed, now is the time to invest in a civil approach, and for the government to work with us for decent hours, pay and working conditions.”
Johnston said that funding cuts had been “drowned out” by Brexit negotiations. “We need to shift media attention back to the real problem.”
Demonstrators called for a £10 minimum wage, a ban on zero-hour contracts, proper funding for the NHS and an end to the privatisation of public services, as well as putting a stop to tax avoidance.
Speaking at the event, full-time teacher Toni Bennett said:
“My school and nine others have been forced to club together to become an academy because it’s the only way we are going to save each other from the impact of funding cuts.
“The pressure put on teachers because of the lack of teaching assistants and proper funding is unbelievable. We need to know that something is going to change.”
The Conservative Party Conference will take place from 30th September to 3rd October at the ICC, with around 11,000 delegates expected to attend.