Hackney residents and workers march for alternative

Gearing up for the march outside Hackney Town Hall. Photo: Michael Isaac

Last Saturday (26 March) a number of Hackney based groups joined the ‘March for the Alternative’ from Trafalgar Square to Whitehall. Organisations such as the Hackney Refugee Forum, Hackney Alliance, Hackney Green Party and Hackney Public Transport User’s Group marched alongside several hundred groups from various parts of the UK in a show of solidarity against the coalition government’s proposed cuts to public services.

Staff from Homerton Hospital marching in central London

Local campaigners met at several locations across Hackney before descending on Trafalgar Square, including Hackney Town Hall, Finsbury Park station and Homerton hospital. More than 30 people left Hackney Town Hall on their bikes, to attend the march which is estimated to have brought together approximately 250,000 people.

Speaking of his reasons for attending the march, John Peers, a union representative of the East London Mental Health Unison Branch said: “We provide services for people in east London who are some of the country’s most deprived people. A lot of them are on welfare benefits and don’t have access to quality health care systems as it is, so if that gets cut back the situation for these people will only get worse.

“They’ll have less access to specialist mental health services, waiting lists for treatment will get longer and longer and we will see the introduction of a two-tier system so people who can afford to get a better service can do whereas those who can’t wont.”

In response to Hackney council’s £47 million cuts package and the impact this will have on public services and jobs, Mr Peers told Hackney Hive: “We’re not a poor country and we can afford to pay for public services. This is really about ideology and priorities.

“I believe firmly in the welfare state and I believe in the right to free health care.”

Hackney Unites Against the Cuts, plans to follow up on the march by running a workers advice course, with the aim of building workplace power to protect jobs and conditions of employment. For more information visit the Hackney Unites website

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