Socialist Worker

Union leaders open door to resistance

Issue No. 2219

When the head of the TUC, Brendan Barber, says that the Tory cuts could be like the poll tax he is right. The coalition is attacking everyone, and there is the chance to create a united resistance that can beat them back.

And when Barber, along with other union leaders, calls for co-ordinated industrial action and mass demonstrations against the cuts, Socialist Worker backs him.

The shift at the TUC this week is significant because it shows there is now near-universal awareness of the importance of the battles to come.

The need to tax the rich and oppose the cuts is now accepted throughout the unions.

But if the labour movement is to stop the government in its tracks then words will not be enough. Motions must be turned into action.

That means workers at the base of the unions everywhere taking up the call from the TUC. National action and protests can encourage local fightbacks, and they can increase the pressure for generalised resistance.

The TUC’s national demonstration in March has to be built properly, with all the unions’ energy and resources thrown into it.

And we have to push for the demonstration to be the launchpad for a 24-hour general strike. We want Britain to be like France where attacks on pensions and jobs are met with escalating mass demonstrations and millions on strike.

Getting there will depend on rank and file activists mobilising to put pressure on the union leaders, and organising independently of them when necessary.

It would be disastrous to leave everything to people who cannot be trusted to hold the line.

The Right to Work demonstration at the Tories’ conference in Birmingham on 3 October must be built more urgently than ever. It is the immediate focus for those—trade unionists, pensioners, students, unemployed people and campaigners—who want to begin the resistance.

Much worse cuts are coming after 20 October and the full horror is not yet apparent.

Co-ordinating action should not mean waiting until all our services have been cut and then starting to defend them.

The unions are already rooted in working class communities in a way no other organisation is.

The Tory coalition will be dead in the water if we can combine effective industrial action with a mass movement of people who rely on public services.

The TUC congress is an immensely weak echo of the class struggle. But its recent moves reflect real shifts in attitude and anger among our side.

The union leaders have given us an opening. We need to take it.

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