Gordon Brown’s government is determined to make working people pay for the economic crisis. His chancellor Alistair Darling declares,
“I have said again and again, whether you are in the private sector or the public sector, we cannot allow inflationary wage increases.”
We are supposed to “tighten our belts” to stop inflation. But average pay rises are currently well below the rate of inflation – yet prices are still spiralling out of control. That demonstrates how we are the victims of inflation, not the cause of it.
Meanwhile those who have created this economic crisis – the bosses, bankers and politicians – get away with their fat salaries and fatter profits intact.
But behind their bluster, ministers are deeply worried by the scale and strength of this week’s strike. And they will be terrified at the solidarity shown towards those on strike by other workers.
The strike has shown the growing thirst for unity across the working class in the face of Brown’s assault on our pay. We must fight to make sure this grassroots solidarity is matched by our union leaders.
We can all take inspiration from this show of power by local government workers. But we can also look to the recent industrial action by Shell tanker drivers, cleaners on the London Underground and workers at Argos distribution depots.
This pay revolt is set to grow. Civil service workers, teachers, lecturers and postal workers are all preparing to ballot for strike action later this year.
Every act of resistance matters, and every one of these battles is important in itself. But they would all be much stronger if they were coordinated.
Brown is attacking six million public sector workers and hopes that pay cuts will also feed through to the private sector. So let’s all fight together. Unity on the picket lines will be the blow that can break his pay curbs.
But we also need to challenge New Labour politically. Labour is in crisis because it has betrayed working people. There are billions for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but no money for public services and those who work in them. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
The media complains about a return to the “winter of discontent”. But what we need is a “glorious summer” of strikes – one that can be the start of a wave of resistance against Brown and the bosses.