Socialist Worker

Back the strikes - and push for more to win

Issue No. 2375

Strikes and protests by workers are taking on the Tories. Teachers in several regions were preparing to strike on Thursday of this week against the government’s assault on education.

Thousands of firefighters were set to march through London the day before to defend their pensions before striking on Saturday.

Post workers were due to find out the result of their strike ballot on Wednesday of this week – expected to be an overwhelming vote for action.

These things can have a real impact. But one good week is not enough to stop the assault.

We are more than three years into a Tory government that is waging war on working class people. So why haven’t we seen the kind of hard-hitting action that can stop them?

Some union leaders want us to put our faith in a Labour government rather than call action now. But for people struggling to get by, being told to wait two years isn’t good enough.

In any case Labour is promising to be even tougher than the Tories. 

Other union leaders say we aren’t ready to launch the kind of fightback we need. Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey, for example, makes fine speeches about resistance.

But at the People’s Assembly earlier this year he argued that we have to “create the right climate” before calling mass industrial action.

Excuse

Others argue that unions should only strike alongside other unions. Coordinated action is a good thing. But it shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to call action.

Some in the unions feel a deep pessimism about workers’ ability to fight and win. 

And many workers, despite their anger, aren’t confident enough to challenge union leaders.

Yet despite all this, union leaders can be pushed to calling action. The coordinated public sector pension strike on 

30 November 2011 came about after groups of workers organised to put pressure on unions.

Millions of people are suffering under the Tories. Many want to see them given a bloody nose. That’s why strikers win support.

Pickets received a near-constant stream of tooting from passing vehicles during last month’s firefighters’ strike.

Parents and other trade unionists have joined strike rallies during teachers’ strikes. People applauded strikers as they marched through city centres.

The Tories want to divide us because they know that when we unite we are stronger. They want us to think resistance is unpopular.

But it isn’t true. In reality strikes are popular and we need more of them. This week shows the potential for a fightback. 

Whether it becomes a reality depends on ordinary union members organising on the ground.


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Article information

What We Think
Tue 15 Oct 2013, 18:10 BST
Issue No. 2375
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