Saturday, 23 February 2013

Austerity Jersey – Nurses march against failed government policies - Video Report and interviews

Year Six of the Crisis and tentatively Jersey Labour is gaining confidence, acting independently and asserting its interests. Moving beyond the comfort zone is not easy, but necessity is a hard master. Exasperation at government intransigence is forcing the pace.

Today’s march by 500 plus nurses and supporters was a great success in building confidence for future action. Of course it’s difficult for nurses, committed as they are to patient care, to consider withdrawing their labour. This the employer knows, but acts of defiance such as overtime bans may be the way forward.

With Unite the Union and RCN flags flying, the march proceeded at 2pm from the assembly point in Howard Davis Park through town and into Parade Gardens, where the nurses were addressed by two leaders.

There was plenty of public sympathy up and down King Street and passing motorists, even those caught in the inevitable traffic jam, tooted horns in support.

Better organisation next time
This was the first march by Nurses, so the learning curve of organisation is steep. The Teachers march a few years ago should have been the model to follow. Teacher’s union representatives were at the front of the march.

Assembly in Howard Davis Park could have been the opportunity for more speakers whilst the assembly process proceeded. The band stand was a perfect location which would have afforded the possibility of powered music and entertainment beforehand.

There should have been leaflets for the marches to hand out to the public setting out grievances and calling for support.

The final destination point was somewhat desolate. The speakers only had a feeble loud hailer with which to address the crowd instead of a powered PA system.

The organisers consciously kept the march exclusively to nursing groups rather than inviting other groups of workers. This will change as confidence grows. There were no politicians invited to address the crowd for similar reasons. Certainly there needs to be good speakers who can rouse listeners and leave them with a positive feeling. The meeting dissolved too soon after the two speakers had spoken. People dispersed on a rather flat tone rather than being fired up and resolved to further action. The call must ever be for more effort and bigger turnout.

Further politicisation of the movement

A number of States Members joined the march including Deputies Tadier, Southern and the Pitmans. Deputy Rod Bryans kept watch at the periphery to report back on the mood to the COM later. Deputy Jeremy Maçon, out doing his Saturday shopping in King Street, stopped to watch and provided approving smiles for the marches, but took no further part.

What will be the outcome from today? Not much; the Council of Minister and States Employment Board will probably issue a press release saying they will look again at the ever worthy nurses and do nothing.

The conclusion is that a one off demonstration is not enough and must now develop a wider political dimension that includes other groups of States employees. The COM will be slightly bemused by today, however to get them worried will require bolder steps beyond the comfort zone. Bon chance!

Here is a compilation video offering a flavour of the day including the main speakers John McNichol and Patricia Marquis.

1 comment:

  1. austerity - the trait of great self-denial

    No government has a program of Austerity since it denies itself nothing.

    The austerity they are referring to is in fact something else.