Socialist Worker

Strikes can force the Tories back

We face a historic battle—will workers or the rich pay for the economic crisis?

Issue No. 2269

 (Pic: http://www.timonline.infoTim Sanders )

(Pic: Tim Sanders)

We face a historic battle. The Tories are waging war on working class people—but this week millions more people joined the fight to stop them.

Across the world, the economic crisis is ripping through the lives of ordinary people. Everywhere the question is posed—who will pay for the crisis?

The Tories have made it clear how they want to answer the question.

They want us to work longer, for less pay. They want to take benefits from the young and old, from those with disabilities and from single parents struggling to make ends meet.

They obviously thought workers in Britain would just take the pain.

When high street chain Woolworths shut down in 2008 the workers didn’t strike or occupy. Some were filmed saying goodbye to their workmates by dancing a farewell conga through a deserted shop.

No one responds to cuts by dancing today.

Only 18 months into the Tory government, the rage and bitterness about the attacks on the poor and on young people runs deep into the working class.

The mass student protests last winter were the opening shots in resistance in Britain.

Afterwards we first saw the organised working class flex its muscles on the magnificent TUC demonstration on 26 March.

Then the logic of pushing from a mass march to a mass strike seemed common sense.


Socialists and activists fought for the united strikes on 30 June.

The strike by 700,000 teachers, lecturers and civil service workers that day showed what was possible. It galvanised workers and created huge pressure on the leaders of unions that didn’t take part.

The Tories are strongest when they succeed in divide and rule tactics. But by pushing through harsh austerity measures they are creating a unity of opposition across the working class.

So the union leaders who were content to win some concessions in negotiations have been left with nothing they can sell to their members.

Pressure from above and below has forced them to join the fight.

Now the Tories face the possibility of mass strikes of millions of workers.

The ruling class warrior Margaret Thatcher took care not to take on the mass ranks of the miners until her second term.

Unlike David Cameron, she bought off other sections of workers to keep them out of the fight.

Current politicians denounce union strike threats, but they should not dismiss them.


Many MPs have never seen real working class militancy. Perhaps they have become complacent.

But socialists can’t afford to be complacent. We have an enormous challenge ahead.

Nothing can be taken for granted. We have to go all out to win the biggest possible strike votes and action on the day.

There are several stages in the battle.

The march on Tory Party conference in Manchester can pull together everyone who wants to fight back and take the battle to David Cameron.

In November, a national Unite the Resistance conference has been called, following on from the 750-strong London-wide meeting in June.

It’s an opportunity for activists from every union to come together and discuss how to push the struggles forward.

We have the chance of a lifetime to push back the bosses, the bankers and the self-serving politicians who want to crush our class.

Now more union leaders are coming out fighting—this is key to building resistance on a mass scale. It gives workers confidence to take action.

But history has shown us that we have to build our own independent organisation among rank and file workers.

Only such networks and roots can ensure we win the victory we deserve. Because this doesn’t end in November.

If we are to win this fight we will have to argue to escalate, and “all out, stay out” will be our call.

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What We Think
Tue 13 Sep 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2269
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