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For the road ahead

Jobs, Justice, Climate - Yes you can

11/2/2009

At the start of April Barack Obama will make his first visit to Europe when he jets into London with other world leaders for the G20 summit. All such summits are important, but with the world deep in recession and job losses mounting each day, none has been as important as this.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Britain's unions, including URTU, are joining with a wide range of development groups, environmental organisations and faith groups to challenge the G20 leaders to 'Put People First', with the March for Jobs, Justice and Climate on the Saturday before the summit, March 28th.

The challenge is clear. The whole world economy nearly went into melt-down before Christmas. More companies go bust every day. Job losses mount, and UK unemployment could well hit three million before the end of the year. Public services are under increasing pressure, as the tax-take falls and the necessary costs of stopping the collapse of the banking system come out of the public purse. Recession and unemployment will see poverty, crime and social division all increase.

This is the end of an economic era. Too much of the economy has been built on a bubble created by banks, hedge funds and financiers. Tearing up rule books and setting markets free has not built prosperity for all, but brought us close to catastrophe.

And even before the financial crisis, there were problems enough for world leaders. Poverty persists in much of the world, and the threat of climate change grows each year we fail to get a grip on global warming.

People are rightly angry - with greedy bankers, politicians who did not see the recession coming and the super-rich who avoid their taxes to name a few. But while the march will express people's rage, there should also be hope. This is also an opportunity to build a fairer and greener world as a way out of recession. But while some leaders think they can go back to business as usual, the total collapse of so much economic orthodoxy and the bold moves taken  by President Obama show that there is an alternative.

This is a powerful message. It is why the March 28th demonstration is attracting such wide support with not just the TUC and unions but, to take just three random examples, the Salvation Army, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam all pledging support. A big union contingent telling the summit 'yes you can' to the event's call for decent jobs and public services for all will add a powerful voice to this important event.

You can keep up with the plans for the demonstration at the website www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk.

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