Socialist Worker

Across Britain, workers prepare for mass strike on 24 April

Thursday 24 April – \"Fightback Thursday\" – is set to pose a serious challenge to the government, with up to half a million workers across different unions preparing to strike over pay.

Issue No. 2096

» Click here for list of rallies and protests on 24 April

Thursday 24 April – 'Fightback Thursday' – is set to pose a serious challenge to the government, with up to half a million workers across different unions preparing to strike over pay.

The strike will come just one week before elections for London mayor, to the London assembly, and to local councils across England and Wales.

Pay has become a key focus for many groups of workers who are bearing the brunt of the credit crunch and are angry over rising bills, falling pay, attacks on public services and much more.

The NUT teachers' union won a massive victory last week, with a 75 percent vote for strike action on 24 April.

Since then members of the PCS civil service workers' union in the Department for Transport have voted to strike on the day and PCS members in other departments look set to join them.

Lecturers in the UCU union are currently balloting to strike and 20,000 council workers in Birmingham fighting a single status pay deal will come out as well.

Pickets, mass rallies and protests on the day – including a London march past parliament – will give everyone a chance to join the day's action.

Tom Jenkins, an NUT rep in Sefton, Merseyside, told Socialist Worker that workers from his school would be joining the march in Liverpool on 24 April. 'The demonstration will show the strength of united action across the public sector to fight Brown's pay limit,' he said.

'Our union branch voted to send a message of support to the strikers,' says Phoebe Watkins, convenor of Camden Unison union branch in north London. 'We've had teachers speaking at our union meetings and will be encouraging our members to take long lunch hours and join the demonstration on 24 April.'

Tony Phillips, the branch secretary of Unison at the London Fire Authority, told Socialist Worker, 'We're not involved in a pay dispute ourselves but people are skint and empathise with workers who are fighting for better pay. We'll be taking a delegation of workers and our banner to the demonstration.'

The result of the ballot in the NUT has boosted confidence among teachers. Many teachers have joined the NUT since the result was announced. Lots of head teachers have already agreed to close their schools on the day.

At several packed NUT meetings held following the result, teachers have voted unanimously to call for the executive to begin balloting 'as soon as possible' for further strike action in the summer term.

'The strike call is waking up a sleeping giant,' said Barry Conway, secretary of Bolton NUT. 'There is an exciting and serious atmosphere of determination.'

Teachers have organised union meetings to discuss the action. Sara Tomlinson, joint branch secretary of Lambeth NUT, told Socialist Worker, 'There have been meetings in at least 30 schools across Lambeth with a very positive response. There's a lot of excitement about marching alongside other workers on 24 April.'

Thursday 24 April is a chance to bring together hundreds of thousands of workers in strikes that shut down towns and cities across Britain. It can become a challenge to the whole neoliberal agenda of New Labour.

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