The Tories and the Liberal Democrats dreaded voters giving them a hammering in this week’s elections for their vicious attacks on working people over the past year.
Their worries led to an outbreak of in-fighting among cabinet ministers over the alternative vote referendum.
The arguments show the coalition is not the confident, powerful government it likes to present itself as. It is weak and nasty, and mass action can force it back.
The momentum for strikes in defence of pensions across the unions is growing. Headteachers in the NAHT union this week became the latest group to declare that they would ballot to strike.
They join hundreds of thousands of teachers in the NUT and ATL unions, civil service workers in the PCS and lecturers in the UCU.
The pressure from below increases demands on other union leaders to join the fightback.
The Unison union has said it could ballot its members for strikes in the autumn.
Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, warned that the government “is heading for industrial turmoil on a massive scale.
“Unison will fight tooth and nail to defend public services, and will ballot one million of its members to strike to protect their pensions.This will not be a token skirmish, but a prolonged and sustained war.”
There is a mood to resist the cuts that has strengthened after the magnificent TUC demonstration in March. When one group of workers takes action they can win the support of others.
Around 150 PCS members at the Office for the Public Guardian struck on Tuesday against plans to move their jobs from London to Birmingham (see Move to Birmingham or get the push).
“Trade unionists and campaigners came to our picket line to show solidarity,” said Austin Harney, the PCS assistant branch secretary.
“This is a strike about our local issue. And the mood is strong in the PCS against the attacks on our pensions. A national strike in June across the unions will send out a loud and clear message to the government about how we feel.”
A co-ordinated strike by almost a million workers would rock the Tories and the Lib Dems.
It also points the way to a general strike of all trade unionists in Britain, which would have the unity and the power to bring this government down.