Socialist Worker

Mass strikes to take on Gordon Brown over pay

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2095

Workers from four unions struck together in February against Birmingham council’s single status pay deal and showed the power of united action. They are set to join tens of thousands of other workers across Britain in strikes on 24 April<span class=

Workers from four unions struck together in February against Birmingham council’s single status pay deal and showed the power of united action. They are set to join tens of thousands of other workers across Britain in strikes on 24 AprilDemonstration

Gerald Clark, an NUT rep in Camden, north London, told Socialist Worker, “We know our strike will have a massive impact on the government. If every association around the country has a protest on 24 April it will be amazing.”

Some 50,000 further education lecturers in the UCU union are currently balloting to strike on 24 April.

Donna Rebouse, a UCU rep at Castle College in Nottingham, told Socialist Worker, “People are really angry over pay – though they recognise that this dispute is about more. We are approaching other unions to organise a joint rally on 24 April.”

In the civil service there are a number of large departments in dispute and a growing pressure on them to come out on 24 April.

The PCS civil service workers’ union national executive voted last week to “call on groups in dispute over pay to convene group executive committee meetings with a view to holding coordinated strike action alongside the education unions on 24 April”.

Over 80,000 workers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and over 10,000 workers in the Department for Transport (DfT) look set to join the strike.

Dave Owens, a PCS DWP group executive committee member, told Socialist Worker, “Many of us will be pushing at our group executive next week for us to call action on 24 April.”

Other groups of workers are already piling in to join the action.

London Underground workers were set to strike next week, and could take further action on 24 April. 

Workers at Metronet on the tube are balloting for action and could also strike on 24 April.

Education workers at Glasgow Metropolitan College have called a strike on the day.

In Leeds, refuse workers in the GMB are set to strike that week over single status pay cuts at the council.

In Birmingham, council workers across the Unison, Unite, Ucatt, GMB unions are set to strike for three days including on 24 April in an ongoing dispute over single status pay cuts.

The potential exists around the country to bring together workers from different unions and workplaces, alongside students, parents, anti-war campaigners and everyone who is fed up with Labour pandering to big business.

Unity is important as Brown’s pay policies are an attack on all workers, not just one section of them.

Last year, under pressure from members, a number of unions called for united action – but it failed to break through into joint strikes. Some trade union leaders held back the potential for a united fight out of loyalty to the Labour government.

Groundswell

But the groundswell of pressure for united action has continued to grow. This process has led to the planned strikes on 24 April – the concrete chance to organise the mass united action that many have been hoping for.

Every group of workers – whether in the public or private sector – should do something on 24 April. The best way to support the resistance is to strike alongside half a million others. 

Every local government union branch should have delegations at pickets and rallies as part of the build up to their fight against attacks on pay.

NHS workers facing cuts and privatisation and awaiting the result of their pay review body should join them.

Postal workers, facing attacks over their pensions, should throw themselves into making the most of the day.

United action can transform the political landscape of Britain.

It would be the best possible build up to challenging Labour at the elections on 1 May. 


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