Socialist Worker

Strike back to beat Tory pay cuts

A series of successful strikes by workers across different unions can boost confidence to take on the Tories—and counter pressure on union leaders to retreat, says Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Issue No. 2423

Trade unionists joined a protest at the Tory party conference in Birmingham last Sunday. Many on the 1,000-strong demonstration were local government workers preparing for pay strikes

Trade unionists joined a protest at the Tory party conference in Birmingham last Sunday. Many on the 1,000-strong demonstration were local government workers preparing for pay strikes (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


More than one million workers are set to strike across three days from 13 October against Tory attacks on their living standards. 

This will be followed by mass TUC demonstrations in London and Glasgow on Saturday 18 October.

Health workers in England are set to kick off the action with a four-hour walkout from 7am on 13 October. 

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) will join the action after backing strikes by a resounding 82 percent. The walkout will be the first in its 133-year history. 

Health workers in the Unite union voted by 62 percent last week to join the walkout.

Gwyneth Powell-Davies, vice chair of Bristol Unite health branch, said, “This is a fantastic Yes vote and is an opportunity to build support among health workers.

“It’s lifted morale. There is anger against the government, but also a sense that we can fight back.”

Unison has already said its 300,000 members will walk out and health workers in the Ucatt union will strike too. 

The GMB union was set to announce the result of its health strike ballot on Wednesday of this week.

Refused

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt has refused NHS workers even a 1 percent pay rise, but it’s about more than just pay.

Health workers are encouraging people to join their picket lines for “Breakfast for the NHS” in the morning. 

York teaching assistant Julie Forgan said, “We’re taking a solidarity card around the school to go down and visit the local nurses’ picket line.”

Julie will be out the next day as Unison, Unite and GMB local government workers strike over pay.

Further education lecturers in England in the UCU union will be out with them.

Then civil service workers in the PCS union will walk out on the 15 October.

Workers are angry over pay and other Tory attacks. 

But there is pressure on union leaders to settle the disputes and throw their weight behind getting Labour elected next year (see below).

Salford City Unison branch treasurer Ameen Hadi (pc) warned, “If we want to defend public services, we’ve got to strike because we can’t rely on a Labour government to do it. This is about more than pay—if we don’t all fight now, it’ll lead to further privatisation.”

PCS Leeds branch secretary Jane Aitchison said, “It is even more important to make these walkouts and the TUC protest successful so we can keep up the pressure to deliver more action.”


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