Socialist Worker

Turn the heat up on the Tories - build more strikes to beat back austerity

Issue No. 2424

Public sector strikers rally together in south London on 10 July

Public sector strikers rally together in south London on 10 July (Pic: Xanthe Whittaker)

Poverty pay has put some public sector workers who provide essential services to millions of people on the minimum wage.

Yet they are told they have to suffer more years of pay freezes and cuts while the Tories’ pals—the bosses of the banks and big business—continue to rake in massive salaries. 

That’s why it’s right to strike against the attacks on pay. 

It’s brilliant that hundreds of thousands were set to strike from Monday against the Tories’ pay cuts.

But where does the action go from there? There needs to be more and wider action if the strikes are going to be more than a few days of protest.

There is a yawning gap between the anger that people feel and the level of fightback the union leaders seem willing to lead.

The anger against the Tories goes even wider than just on the issue of pay. People see the NHS being privatised. 

They have witnessed the welfare state being hacked away with every new Tory initiative announced by public school millionaire ministers.

Working class people have suffered almost five years of relentless attacks. 

The hatred of the Tories that drove the groundswell of support for the Yes campaign in Scotland was a glimpse of the depth of feeling against austerity.

Union leaders should throw themselves into an energetic campaign to fight for every member to be involved in action and to escalate strikes. Just think what a difference that could make.

Instead of building up workers’ confidence in their ability to win, many trade union leaders seem more preoccupied with how to avoid calling action.  

There will be immense pressure from many trade union leaders not to have further strikes before the general election in May. 

Many just want to get Labour elected. But it’s no use waiting and hoping a Labour government will end poverty pay, job losses and privatisation.

Ed Miliband is promising to continue Tory austerity.

The only way we can impose different priorities is by building where we are strong and collectively organised. 

Workers are made to feel like they are merely cogs in a massive oppressive system over which they have no control.

But when workers strike they can overcome their atomisation and feel their real strength in the unity of their action.

The Unite the Resistance conference on 15 November will be one place to bring together workers and activists who want to get organised and fight for action to beat the Tories.

It’s strikes that can win—because the system cannot work without the our labour.  

And the experience of solidarity proves to workers that there is an alternative to accepting ever more cuts and compromises. 

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