People’s March for Jobs, May 1981


This month marks the 35th anniversary of the People’s March for Jobs in May 1981. Unemployment in 1981 had reached c. 2.5 million and to highlight the issue the Merseyside Association of Trades Council organised a march of the unemployed from Liverpool to London.

People’s March for Jobs poster, 1981

When the march left Liverpool on May 1st it comprised c.280 people, but by the time it reached London on 31st May for the final rally in Hyde Park over 150,000 were in attendance.

The march was organised to echo the unemployment marches of the 1930s. In 1933 the National Unemployed Workers Movement organised various marches and in February of that year the TUC and Labour Party organised a mass demonstration in London. The TUC Library holds a number of posters that were produced for that demonstration.

Unemployment march, 1933

Poster produced for the National Unemployment Demonstration, 1933

In November of 1981 the TUC organised a Jobs for Youth campaign to highlight the impact of unemployment on a generation of young people. A Jobs Express train travelled throughout the country with a rally held at each stop. The campaign culminated in a demonstration in London in November 1981.

Rally in London for the Jobs for Youth campaign, November 1981

Unemployment continued to rise throughout the early 1980s however, and in the spring of 1983 a second March for Jobs was organised.

Leaflet for the March for Jobs, 1983

To find out more about the items featured, or any other material in the TUC Library, get in touch.


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