Protestors fill the streets to demand a future that works

Protestors fill the streets to demand a future that works

Three hundred Prospect members and their families took to the streets of London on Saturday with thousands of fellow trade unionists from across the UK to protest at the government's austerity measures and demand a future that works.

Prospect also had a strong presence at the TUC marches held in Belfast and Glasgow on the same day.

A sea of blue flags, banners and placards marked out the Prospect contingent from the 150,000-strong crowd as they marched through central London. The atmosphere was buoyant – with the sound of vuvuzelas, portable music systems and chanting filling the streets as workers and their families made clear what they think of the coalition government's austerity agenda.

Prospect members from the Ministry of Defence, BT and other telecoms sector workplaces, NATS, Metropolitan Police, Diamond Light Source, Health and Safety Executive, many museums and galleries and energy were among those joining in. Prospect's newest group, the Aspect education professionals, also joined in with a strong contingent.

Placards bore the messages: "Invest in skills for growth – before it's too late"; "People + skills = growth" and "Yes to prosperity. No to austerity." Among the more humorous slogans were: "Proud to be a pleb" and "Time to be fare to us George!" – referring to the Chancellor's decision the day before to travel first class on a standard ticket.

Members who travelled on a special train from Cardiff and Newport were interviewed by the Wales on Sunday.

They included Rob Phillips, a project manager at the National Library, who said: "We are not radicals, we are not anarchists, and I've never been on a march like this before. But things are getting worse. Some of the workers in the National Library are paid not much more than the minimum wage and there's a significant number on below the living wage."

Among those addressing the rally in Hyde Park were the TUC's general secretary Brendan Barber, general secretary elect Frances O'Grady and Labour leader Ed Miliband. The crowds also heard from a young unemployed worker – one of several who headed the march – and from Prospect's own Helen Kenny, recently made redundant from the Forensic Science Service.

Barber called for a strategy for growth – nowhere to be seen under the current government. "It's time for change - for a future that puts people back to work, gets our economy moving and tax revenues flowing," he said.

"Cuts, privatisation and attacks on employment rights are not the answer. They are the road to nowhere. So we have to make a choice; between a future of growing inequality, or a future of fairness."

Helen Kenny, who took her young son Eoin with her to the rally, won loud applause for her condemnation of closure of the Forensic Science Service. The decision had left "hundreds of dedicated forensic scientists out of work, at huge cost, and with a corresponding loss to the nation of probably thousands of years worth of expertise."

After the march about 60 members met for a drink at the Star Tavern near Hyde Park.