Tory prime minister David Cameron says the government’s austerity budget will “change our way of life”. It won’t change the life of a millionaire like him in the slightest, of course, but for millions of workers it means a swathe of attacks.
As the Tories push through cuts in every aspect of the public services, the bosses are determined that we should pay for the crisis.
They fully expect to face resistance. That’s why the bosses’ organisation, the CBI, pushed to further restrict the right to strike last week.
It wants to raise the level of support required for walk-outs and is proposing that at least 40 percent of a workforce must vote for a strike in a ballot.
It also called for the consultation period for redundancies to be cut from 90 days to 30 days to “reduce uncertainty to staff” and help employers “reshape their workforces swiftly”.
John Cridland, the deputy director general of the CBI, said, “Strikes cause misery. They prevent ordinary people going about their daily lives. Strikes also… undermine our efforts to help rebuild the economy.”
In fact the real misery will be caused by the attacks on ordinary people in the name of the “national interest”. The best way to alleviate that misery is to strike back.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, has rightly argued that we need “the widest possible opposition to this government’s programme of despair”.
Dave Prentis, the Unison union general secretary, has also promised that the government “won’t know what hit them” and said unions will be “fierce defenders of our members and the services they deliver”.
This is all for the good. Where union leaders give a lead we should enthusiastically build on it. But in recent months too many of them have seemed paralysed by the crisis.
Where they do not organise, we have to mobilise ourselves locally, in workplaces and communities.
Anger can be turned into action to stop the Tories’ attacks – if it is channelled into a real fight. Every service and job can be defended.
Every single cut must be resisted. Local fights can come together to create a national response.
Resistance can coalesce around a group of workers who take action.
That means organising networks of rank and file workers to put pressure on union officials and organise support from other workers.
The fights to come cannot just be about a narrow defence of jobs.
It is essential that workers unite with the working class people who use the services they provide.
The Right to Work protests on budget day showed the potential for unity with students, unemployed workers and pensioners.
A summer of resistance can save some essential services and put manners on the government.
The campaigns and struggles can unite in a massive protest at the Tory party conference on 3 October in Birmingham.