It was the day the workers reminded everyone of their power. This was not supposed to happen in Gordon Brown’s Britain. For years we have been told class politics is dead and that we should all accept the wonders of the free market.
Suddenly somewhat bemused news editors had to put strikes on their front pages. The best response Brown could come with was that the strikes were “unjustifiable”. Predictably, the Tories denounced the strikers and the Liberal Democrats called for strikes in education to be banned.
Either our strikes are dismissed as ineffectual or, like the Grangemouth strikers in Scotland, denounced as holding the country to ransom.
The reality is that millions of workers have taken inspiration from seeing people fighting back against the government.
The NUT, PCS and UCU unions showed every trade unionist that it’s possible to create a united, powerful fightback.
The size of the marches and the rallies show that when unions stand up and fight their members will mobilise.
We have no choice but to fight back against the government and Fightback Thursday was a great start.
When every public sector worker faces a pay cut it is common sense for public sector unions to fight together.
Half a million Unison health workers are about to ballot on their below inflation pay offer, and 1.5 million local government workers are being consulted over their derisory offer.
Activists in the NUT are pushing for a ballot for more strike days. Lecturers in the UCU can strike again before the summer.
In two weeks time the PCS conference will discuss holding a national strike ballot. Post workers are moving towards a strike ballot over pensions.
Imagine what could happen if all these unions took action together.
On 9 June the TUC has called a lobby of parliament over public sector pay. Turning that into a real mass lobby of parliament could be an important staging post.
This would put huge pressure on Brown.
It is worth noting that none of the unions on strike nationally last week are affliated to the Labour Party.
We need to push our union leaders to confront Labour politically and to put workers’ interests before those of Labour ministers.
Pay has become the focus for the wider issues workers face – jobs cuts, privatisation and office closures for civil service workers, workload, class sizes and academies for teachers, single status pay cuts for council workers, cuts and the future of further education for lecturers.
The attacks we face are caused by Brown’s commitment to profit, privatisation and war.
That’s why we need a political challenge to New Labour combined with a resurgent workers’ movement striking hard.