Socialist Worker

Pensions battle still key to beating Tories

Issue No. 2304

The TUC’s call for a march against austerity on 20 October is a brilliant opportunity to bring more workers into the struggle against the Tory attacks on our class.

The demonstration organised by the TUC on 26 March last year transformed the mood in the working class.

Over half a million took to the streets, with hundreds of trade union banners. Everyone who took part looked around at these vast battalions of the organised working class and felt strong.

The slogan “We’ve marched together, now let’s strike together” captured the spirit of the day—and helped pave the way for the first big strike over pensions on 30 June.

Now millions more workers know what austerity means. They have had a year of Tory attacks on the welfare state and workers’ living standards.

Millions have also learned what resistance means.

On 30 November we saw the biggest public sector strike in Britain for decades.

Many who have not been on strike or protested before will come on the 20 October march. Every activist should go all out to get as many of their workmates to come to London as possible.

The announcement of the march is a sign of the pressure on trade union leaders to lead a fight. But some leaders may hope that the demonstration could be a substitute for calling more strikes.

Within weeks of 2.6 million workers striking in November, some union leaders called a halt to any more action over pensions.

Now others argue we should move on and prepare to fight over other issues such as pay. But the pensions dispute is not over.

The sheer resilience of workers’ refusals to accept defeat has kept the pensions fight alive. Seeing it through to victory is the best way to push back all the Tories’ attacks.

The build-up to a mass protest can draw in new forces and build workers’ confidence to fight back.

The call for another united strike in June (see back page) should be taken up by activists in every union. But we also have to acknowledge the problems.

There was disappointment and anger that the strike on 10 May did not involve all the unions affected.

There is also frustration that the pensions dispute may get reduced to a series of set-piece one day strikes months apart.

Workers will fight if they feel there is a strategy to win. There has to be a sense that our side is ramping up the pressure.

We have to grasp every opportunity to build up the struggle on every front.

That’s how we can escalate this fight across the working class for bigger and more sustained strikes—the sort of action the Tories fear.

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What We Think
Tue 22 May 2012, 17:25 BST
Issue No. 2304
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