Socialist Worker

Mass strike could bring out a million in a hot July

Public sector union leaders hint at coordinated action to take on the Tories, reports Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2403

Workers in the NUT and Unite unions marching together on a TUC protest

Workers in the NUT and Unite unions marching together on a TUC protest (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


More than one million workers could strike together on Thursday 10 July against the Tories’ assault on their living standards.

That’s the date that the Unison and Unite unions are considering calling action for if workers in local government vote for strikes over pay.

If it goes ahead workers in the NUT, PCS, FBU, GMB and others could strike on that day too. Such a strike would would help boost all those who hate the Tories. And it would open up the possibility of a sustained struggle that can stop their attacks on workers.

It would come just as Unison, Unite and GMB prepare to ballot over pay in the NHS. It could bring more than another half a million workers into battle in the autumn.

Every time unions have called strikes in recent years they have been successful. Workers have repeatedly shown their willingness to fight. But there’s a risk that if workers are left in the dark, they will be demoralised and any momentum built up will start to ebb away.

Many workers aren’t aware of the potential for a coordinated walkout on 10 July—a date that has yet to be officially announced. It has been drawn up and discussed by a handful of people inside the union machines.

The People’s Assembly will hold a national demonstration against austerity in London on 21 June. Many unions are building for this and plan to organise blocs within the march.

Teachers in the NUT are also preparing for a lobby of parliament on 10 June.

These events can galvanise more people to become active and help build for future strikes. Whether they do so depends on what ordinary workers do.

Galvanise

So in Sheffield, NUT members have organised a series of Saturday stalls, some jointly with the People’s Assembly, and organised a delegation to go to the lobby.

In other areas, the lobby hasn’t enthused people. Some teachers are confused about what is happening with their dispute. Others say that uncertainty about when it will take place is making it hard to mobilise people.

John McLoughlin is a Unison member and local government worker in Tower Hamlets, east London.

He told Socialist Worker in a personal capacity, “We’re holding a series of reps and workplace meetings to publicise the ballot.

“We’re also planning joint meetings in schools with teachers.” 

To make the action a success will mean activists fighting to involve all union members. That means calling workplace meetings where people can come together, ask questions and debate what action they should take.

It means putting pressure on the union leaders, and building support for every strike that does happen—such as the walkouts at Care UK in Doncaster (see page 20) or at Lambeth College (see page 6).

“Our focus is on getting the biggest possible yes vote for action but it’s important to start preparing for the strike—we want to start galvanising people now,” said John.

 “Starting early is crucial as the first week of the ballot is half term so we need to get as much done before the ballot starts as we can.”

It’s clear that a fightback is needed—and what ordinary union members do in the next few months will make all the difference.

Marxism festival opens on the 10 July. Book now at marxismfestival.org.uk

Who could be taking action?

  • NUT: has a live strike ballot, and is committed to striking during the summer term. It will consider striking on 10 July at a meeting this month
  • Unison: set to ballot local government members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It plans to strike on 10 July
  • Unite: set to ballot local government members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It plans to strike on 10 July
  • FBU: has live ballot and could consider striking on 10 July
  • PCS: is preparing to reballot for strikes. It will consider joining walkouts on 10 July at its conference later this month
  • GMB: consultation ends on Thursday of this week in local government

 


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