Socialist Worker

Build TUC 18 October protests and boost class confidence

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2421

Strikers on 10 July in Neath, Port Talbot

Strikers on 10 July in Neath Port Talbot Council (Pic: Alan Thomson)


This autumn’s mass demonstrations against austerity on 18 October are now just four weeks away. They will come just days after huge public sector strikes.

Tens of thousands are set to march through London and Glasgow. 

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “We must make 18 October a show of strength.”

Across Britain coaches are being organised and the Unite union has booked a number of charter trains. 

Peter Edwards, a member of the civil service workers’ PCS union in Cardiff, said, “My union is already looking to book a second coach from South Wales.”

Trade unionists and campaigners in Manchester are organising a mobilising meeting for the demonstration. 

Geoff Dexter from Birmingham said, “We’ve got the Tories coming to Birmingham for their annual conference on 28 September.” 

Midlands TUC has organised a demonstration and a Hard Up Festival to oppose it. “We’re using it to build for this autumn’s strikes and the TUC demo in London,” said Geoff. 

Workers are angry about poverty pay. But they will also be protesting about NHS privatisation and the raft of attacks that continue despite the Tories’ talk of “recovery”. 

“Tory austerity is simply about shifting wealth from workers to their rich friends at the top of society,” said Peter. “But if we all strike together and march together, we can get rid of the lot.”

Up to a million workers are set strike on 14 October in the week leading up to the demonstrations. 

That includes Unison members in schools and local councils, and has the potential to be even bigger than this year’s 10 July strike.

Unison is balloting 40,000 members in academies to join them. It is also balloting council workers in Scotland over pay—workers should vote yes in both these ballots.

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Further education lecturers in England in the UCU union will also join the strike as part of an ongoing pay dispute.

Civil service workers in the PCS union are likely to join the walkout. 

Unison, Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are balloting their members in the NHS.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, “The 10 July was not just a one day strike—it was the start of our campaign.”

Members’ anger is making union leaders talk left. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner told the TUC conference, “We have to lead—we have to build confidence to fight for our class”. 

But such words have to be turned into making this autumn’s strikes and demonstrations as big as possible. 

The TUC demonstrations on 26 March 2011 and 20 October 2012 boosted workers’ confidence to take on the Tory government. 

This demonstration can do the same, but it needs to be more than just a “show of strength”.

It can give workers confidence to push for more action and is an opportunity to help build the sort of networks that can put pressure on the union leaders. 

It must be the start of sustained, escalating action that can win. 

Transport details at falseeconomy.org.uk/payrise For more information go to britainneedsapayrise.org and for the Glasgow demo go to ajustscotland.org

Unite the Resistance Striking Together—Organising to Win conference. To book for the conference on 15 November go to uniteresist.org

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