Socialist Worker

Unions must turn rhetoric into reality to beat the pay freeze

Issue No. 2117

With poverty rising almost as fast as the pound is falling on the currency markets, the government has finally admitted that the economy is chaos.

Their solution is to call for ordinary people to tighten our belts yet again.

But there is a growing feeling of anger at Gordon Brown’s determination to hold down wages and a clear mood to strike back simply to avoid pay cuts. And there is the prospect that teachers, civil service workers and lecturers could all strike together in the next couple of months. Local government workers across Britain could also strike again.

It is in this context that current and aspirant prime ministers will come to shake hands next week at the TUC conference in Brighton.

The problems is that the addiction of many in the leadership of the unions to bailing out the Labour Party financially – and the government politically – means they are reluctant at best to call the action that could improve the living standards of millions of workers.

The speeches from the union leaders in Brighton will no doubt be firm on the need for the government to offer more for workers.

But the real test is having a enough pressure on them from below to turn the words over poverty and pay into calling the coordinated action we need.

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What We Think
Tue 2 Sep 2008, 18:37 BST
Issue No. 2117
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