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With banners held high: hundreds march in celebration of trade unionism

HUNDREDS of trade unionists marched through Wakefield in Yorkshire on Saturday in a celebration of trade unionism.

The With Banners Held High (WBHH) festival returned after a three-year absence due to the pandemic.

More than 30 trade union and campaign banners were headed by Unite’s brass band, with rail union RMT’s brass band at the rear and the samba drum band of the Public and Commercial Services union in the centre of the march.

More than 400 people marched and joined the street festival with trade union and campaign stalls and heard rousing speeches from speakers including National Union of Mineworkers national secretary Chris Kitchen and bakers’ union BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley.

RMT national shipping secretary Daz Procter appealed to the crowd to show solidarity with the 800 workers unlawfully sacked by P&O Ferries.

“This dispute is going to be won by the rank and file,” he said to cheers.

Ms Woolley said the food industry was run by profiteers, and that even people with jobs were being forced to use food banks because they were paid so little.

“The rising cost of living is killing people,” she said. “People are being driven into absolute poverty.

“It is only going to get worse. Bosses will double down on workers because they do not want to feel the pinch.

“We cannot rely on the government. The opposition has not done much for us over the last two years.”

She said that it is up to trade unionists and trade union councils to take action instead.

Ms Woolley added: “Do we let the rich get richer so that our colleagues are forced to use food banks? Or do we remember that collectively we are powerful?”

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