The Tories’ war on the working class has begun in earnest. The severity of attacks on jobs, services, pensions and rights at work is becoming clearer by the day.
A number of trade union leaders are talking about organising a serious fight to stop them.
Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the NUJ journalists’ union, spoke at the Marxism 2010 festival last weekend. He called on the TUC to organise an emergency summit that “should seek to mobilise the entire movement, employed and unemployed, against the cuts”.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, has said that unions would refuse to be cowed by the attacks: “We say, ‘We don’t fear them. Fight them.’ Our trade union has a slogan, ‘Never on our knees’.”
Many union leaders are defying the Tories’ logic over cuts. They can see the blatant class nature of the policies.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, condemned the government that is “led by two public school boys” and “attacking the rights of ordinary workers rather than the bankers who caused the recession”.
The union leaders’ talk has driven the right wing media into a frenzy. They talk of “secret plans” by the government to tighten the anti-union laws, making it even harder to strike.
It’s important that union leaders are making tough statements—but we need pressure from rank and file union members to ensure we get action, including national strikes, that can win.
Some unions are moving towards this. The UCU lecturers’ union, for example, has announced that it will hold national strike ballots of its members in the autumn.
But there are also plenty of other things that can be done now.
The unions could call a national demonstration against the cuts to show the strength of our side.
There can be a local campaign against every cut. We can raise solidarity when workers strike.
Public sector workers in each workplace could collectively respond to the letter David Cameron has sent asking what they think should be cut. The obvious things would be Trident, the war and the rich’s wealth.
And there is one major date that everyone can focus on to turn the anger at the Tories into real resistance—Sunday 3 October.
The Tories will hold their annual conference in Birmingham on that day. We have to make sure that there are thousands of people demonstrating outside it.
The Right to Work campaign has called a protest, already formally backed by the UCU union.
Every activist can build this protest and every campaign can take their fight directly to the Tories. Labour Party members and branches can be part of the fight.
Unions and campaign groups need to pass support for the protest now and book transport.
The Tories’ spending review on 20 October will unleash more, wrecking the lives of working class people.
A huge turnout on 3 October can make them think twice. It will also be part of building a bigger movement of resistance—one that can stop the Tories and their cuts.