Why are the unions not leading mass resistance to the Tories and their brutal assault on the working class and the poor?
At a time when the Tories are tearing themselves apart, our side could make the most of their turmoil and take them on.
Every time they get the chance, workers have shown they’d like to see a fight. The firefighters’ FBU union voted for a strike ballot at its national conference to defend jobs and the service.
Civil service workers in the PCS union are meeting to discuss how to take the fight forward at their conference this week. They have had rolling sectional strikes and are looking for opportunities to unite with other unions.
Teachers in the north west of England are gearing up for their June strike. They are supported by teachers across Britain who called on their union leadership to call them all out together.
So it’s not that people don’t want to fight.
Every time there is a chance to get together to talk about resisting the Tories’ attacks, the meetings are big. The People’s Assembly in Nottingham saw 350 activists gather to discuss the impact of austerity.
The People’s Assembly in London next month promises to be big. Everyone who wants to oppose austerity should be a part of it.
But the main thing is what comes out of the meetings and protests—how we organise to fight.
It’s not good enough to say wait for Labour. Its ability to express, let alone organise, resistance to the Tories has been exposed as feeble.
On the other hand the trade unions have the organisation and ability to mobilise the collective strength of workers where they are strongest.
The problem is some of the leaders of the biggest unions have talked a good fight but retreated when it came to actually leading one.
This has caused demoralisation and frustration. But all the time resistance still breaks out, and sometimes in unexpected places.
Just look at the scale of opposition that is growing against the hated bedroom tax.
Little did the government know that this particular clause in the raft of welfare cuts would generate such militancy from working class people.
It’s a sign of what’s possible. There is massive potential to take on the Tories—especially now, when they are split.
They may look like they only care about fighting each other, but it is when we mobilise that they really get worried.
Small sparks of resistance can inspire others to fight and create the sort of struggles that can confront the government.