Socialist Worker

After the 30 November strikes - how do we beat the Tories’ assault?

Issue No. 2281

Karen Reissmann

Karen Reissmann

Karen Reissmann, Unison national executive committee (pc)

George Osborne’s statement on Tuesday fuelled the anger against the Tories. It was like pouring petrol on a fire.

Some reps in the NHS were worried about what the response might be from our members.

But as the strike got nearer, more and more got involved. Then, after Osborne’s statement, people were furious. The number of people out on the pickets and the marches was amazing.

The government is digging its heels in, so we have to dig ours in as well. The strike wasn’t just about expressing our opinion.

We are not just a stage army to be used to get 5p extra in negotiations and settle by the end of the year.

We are in this for a serious fight. People are worried about losing money with more strikes. But they know that if the Tories win they want to freeze our pay for years.

All day there were serious debates among strikers about how can we win this. Everyone is really committed to the unions fighting together.

It was that unity that gave many trade unionists the confidence to come out and strike, many for the first time.

We have to escalate and pull more unions in. CWU union members joined us on picket lines and said they wished they’d been balloted to be out with us.

In Bolton fire fighters lined up and cheered us as we marched past. This shows what might be possible.

This battle can’t be left in the hands of a few trade union leaders or the TUC.

We need all the unions to get together for a serious debate about the next steps.

Rank and file trade unionists need to have control.

We need to support every strike to stop cuts and defend jobs. But we also need to name the date for the next united strike day and take the struggle forward.

Mark Campbell, UCU national executive committee (pc)

The 30 November strikes showed the absolute strength of feeling among workers—not just about pensions but over the Tories’ attacks on everything.

The genie of resistance is now out of the bottle, and it ain’t going back in.

The fact that at least 50,000 people came on the march in London was a clear sign of the mood.

It was very militant and very lively. I spoke at the rally and said that we are the 99 percent, we’re off our knees and we’re not going to go back down. It went down very well.

The battle isn’t only about pensions. It’s about fighting privatisation, fighting attacks on public services and standing up for what we want society to look like.

Today showed that millions are prepared to strike to stop the assault and stand up to the Tories.

We will be arguing to come out again in January in our millions. We’ll then extend that into February and we’ll keep coming out until this government backs down.

That was the mood on our picket lines, our protests and among students.

We want to force the government to put pressure on those who really are gold-plated—the bankers and the rich who got us into this mess.

Some workers, like those in education, will be out of their workplaces over Christmas. But Christmas will just be a chance for refuelling!

And it will remind people of how much we’re being attacked. George Osborne’s autumn statement made clear that they aren’t backing off.

They are now increasing the retirement age earlier than they said before, and will make it easier to sack workers.

We have no choice but to stand up and fight. And more and more people are realising that.

What people saw today is that when we stand up, and we stand up united, we actually have the power in Britain.

Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell

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Article information

Thu 1 Dec 2011, 12:30 GMT
Issue No. 2281
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