I met up with Sara from Dubble Fairtrade Chocolate for the ‘Put People First’ march and rally in central London on Saturday 28th March.
Put People First is a coalition of 150 organisations, including Trading Visions, that have come together ahead of the G20 summit in London this week, calling on G20 leaders to create jobs, tackle poverty and inequality, and take urgent action on climate change. The coalition’s agenda spans the rich and the poor world: it’s about jobs and poverty in the UK as well as about global inequities.
The police estimated a pretty big turn out of 35,000 people, and while it wasn’t the largest march I’ve been on in recent years, it was one of the most diverse and colourful. The coalition is a broad alliance of trade unions, green groups, faith organisations and development NGOs. The diversity of the marchers reflected this: there were all kinds of different outfits and banners there.
I remember seeing a few students from the Plymouth Palestinian Solidarity Campaign waving a huge Palestinian flag; the big group of marchers from the global e-campaigning group Avaaz all wearing green hard hats symbolising the call for green jobs; groups from every single union, many of them marching with large beautifully embroidered banners, including really specific ones like the Bradford Casino Workers Union; the colourful Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from G20 Meltdown; a lovely group of women near Embankment tube singing Bread and Roses (“Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!”).
We joined the fair trade contingent with the Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade London, all dressed in bright yellow as the ‘Bananas for Justice’! There were also lots of marchers from Traidcraft. Our marching chant? “Free trade, boo. Fairtrade, woo!”
The weather was a strange mix. After a blustery, sunny morning we were pelted with bouts of sudden heavy rain and hail as we huddled companionably together in Hyde Park for the rally. Quite ironic for a climate change demonstration! There were some great speakers: the most exciting was probably Mark Thomas who came on with an angry impassioned attack on unfettered free market capitalism.
Sara did a great job handing out flyers encouraging people to “Eggapolitician” – a rather cool little viral enabling people to send an e-postcard to the G20 leaders to keep fair trade on the agenda – or you can just have some fun with some chocolate eggs…
It was a great day overall: now I hope that it makes an impact on the G20 leaders and strengthens our collective resolve to keep campaigning for a better global economic system that works for people and the planet.