Socialist Worker

Sheffield: a debate on the way forward

Issue No. 2225

The TUC’s regional rally in Sheffield last Saturday saw a sharp debate about the strength of the working class—and the kind of action we need to stop cuts.

Some speakers argued for a long build up before calling mass protests or strikes.

Unison NEC member and mental health nurse Sue Highton said, “Yes the trade unions will bring us out on strike, but when our members call for it.

“In 1979 I could say, ‘Strike’, and they’d follow me. But I asked members at my workplace last week, would you come out on strike? Their answer at this point is no.”

Many at the top of the unions use this argument as an excuse for not calling action.

It’s true, some workers aren’t confident. But this can change quickly in struggle.

Some workers at the rally chanted “general strike” between the speeches.

Marion Lloyd from the PCS union won huge applause when she welcomed the TUC calling a national protest, but added, “March is too late—by then tens of thousands will have lost their jobs.

“We need a demo now and a one-day general strike. Let’s bring France to the streets of Britain.”

We don’t need to wait five months to step up the protests.Delay risks squandering the mood of anger against the Tories. But acting fast can give confidence to others to fight.

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