After a march from Sacred Trinity Church on Chapel Street a rally was held at Bexley Square to celebrate International Workers Day.
Hundreds enthusiastically listened to guest speakers including the Bishop of Manchester and Broughton anti bedroom tax campaigner Maria Brabiner, who used her time on the podium to remind the Government that the fight against what she called 'This unfair Tax on those who could least afford it is not over. She defiantly added that neither herself or the campaign is going away until it is fully abolished.
Maria became involved in the campaign after she had to quit work to tend to her ailing mother who sadly passed away not long afterwards. She not only had to deal with the grief of her loss but with the threat of loosing her family home as she could not afford to pay for the 'Spare Room'.
Now back in employment after being snapped up by a local company, Maria continues to this day to fight for those she feels are being victimised for being unable to pay.
Dubbed by friends and supporters as 'Media Maria' she has become an outspoken and well respected public face for the campaign.
Also giving a speech was ASLEF President Tosh McDonald, Tosh is a Doncaster born lad, Now 56 he started on the railways in 1979 as a freight guard. He became a local union rep soon afterwards.
In 1991 he became a train driver and in 2015 he was elected president of the train drivers’ union Aslef.
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett used his time to highlight the cuts being forced to social care not only in Salford but all across the UK. He said 'it is an absolute disgrace what is happening to social care in the country, citing workers being paid less than the minimum wage and 15 minute care visits as being a failure of the system.
Paul went on to mention the 50,000 people who are using food banks to support themselves and their families. To rapturous applause he told the crowds that the party needs to unite and move to the left, back to its core values and back to its core beliefs where if first started, calling for more trade unionists working within the party, more working class people sitting on the benches of parliament along with more people active within the party in Salford. Paul stressed the importance of uniting to take on the Tories and in the spirit of unity in the community he called for all members to come together and fight as one.
Next up on the podium was Salford MP and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rebecca Long Bailey who echoed the Mayors call for unity whilst apologising for using notes as it was the only way she could stay on topic and not go off on a rant about former prime-minster Margret Thatcher, to laughs from the crowd. Rebecca started by thanking the trades council for organising the events of the day and praised them for the work they were doing.
Gesturing to the commemorative plaque adorning the walls of the old court house she gave mention to the historical significance of the square where people were standing by mentioning the part it played in history during what became to be known as the Battle of Bexley Square, a time when tens of thousands of unemployed men and women marched upon the court house to demonstrate against means testing and cuts to other vital benefits. A march which infamously was met with terrible violence from the police of the day (See videos bellow for more details).
Rebecca went on to ask 'What has changed?' Answering her own question she told the listening crowds 'Absolutely Nothing'. People listened on as she described how last year in the UK over 100,000 children were left homeless, whilst at the same time the country was at its lowest level of house building since the 1920's. Rebecca criticised the government rights to buy scheme which she said led to social housing being snapped up and rented out at much higher and un-affordable rates by unscrupulous private landlords. Moving onto the bedroom tax she echoed the words of Maria Brabiner by saying that it was forcing people out of their homes, making them have to choose between paying rent and eating.
Going on to mention those using food banks across Salford, she said that many of those visiting them each week were working families who were earning so little after paying out for the cost of living that they had virtually nothing left.
"The people of Salford didn't bring about the financial crisis"
Rebecca was quick to tell those listening that the government promised a light at the end of the hardship tunnel and that austerity was necessary, whilst reminding people of the dismantling of the NHS which she said benefited the friends of the Tory government. The majority suffer as the minority sail around the med on their million pound super yachts.
"Its one rule for the few and another for the many"
Britain is the sixth biggest economy in the world and its about time the people of Britain shared in that wealth
Bringing her speech to an end she derided Theresa Mays plans to turn the UK into a tax haven if she doesn't get the deal she wants from the EU, Rebecca said that the governments failure to reign in big businesses which were calling the shots needed to stop and an end brought to this rigged system.
Also giving speeches on the day were the Bishop of Manchester, Hilda Palmer, HAZARDs camapign and Paul Kelly, Salford TUC President who brought proceedings to an end.