On 18 October, around 100,000 people joined the TUC “Britain Needs a Pay Rise” march through central London.
Pay has stagnated for workers over the past seven years, making this the longest period of falling real wages since records began. In this context, with the rich seeing their incomes ballooning at the expense of the working class, the slogan “Britain Needs a Pay Rise” has the potential to mobilise workers already in unions and connect with those outside of the organised labour movement.
A lot of this potential was wound down in the immediate run-up to the march. The leaderships of Unison, Unite and the GMB cancelled strike action on pay by local government and school workers to ballot members over a poor pay deal.
Prior to this the NUT leadership opted to consult members, rather than join in with a week of industrial action leading up to the demonstration.
In this context of de-escalation, it is impressive that 100,000 people came out to march against austerity and for a pay increase.
This demonstrates that a constituency exists in the labour movement that is prepared to organise and act on low pay.