Socialist Worker

Coordinated walkouts show how to challenge the Tories

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2461

Bromley council workers walked out on Tuesday of this week

Bromley council workers walked out on Tuesday of this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers leading resistance to austerity and privatisation will show union leaders what needs to be done.

From Glasgow to Bromley in London, public sector workers are coordinating their strikes on Wednesday of this week. 

They will send a message that workers can resist the Tories’ declaration of class war.

“This is coordination from the bottom up,” Barnet Unison union branch chair Helen Davies told a rally to organise solidarity and defend trade unions.

The rally was called by Unite the Resistance last week. 

Apart from the hell set to be unleashed by George Osborne’s budget, the Tories propose a new Trade Union Bill to further shackle workers’ rights to strike.

Council workers in Barnet and Bromley, in London, were both set to be part of the day of strikes. Both face Tory neoliberal experiments that seek to privatise virtually everything.

In Bromley the workforce is to be cut from 4,000 to 300. And in Barnet 80 percent of jobs are to be outsourced. Bosses are also attacking trade union facility time.

The Unite union said Bromley council is “doing all it can” to stop branch secretary Kathy Smith carrying out her role as a trade union rep. 

Barnet Unison successfully beat off similar attacks in the last few years.


Local councils in England face a £3.3 billion funding cut for local services in 2016/17. 

Attacks on workers, their unions and the services they run will only intensify. 

But the problem goes beyond England. The Glasgow homelessness caseworkers are now in their fifteenth week of an all-out strike over pay. They will join the Budget day strikes against Tory cuts.

A delegation will link with strikers in Bromley, Barnet and the workers at the National Gallery resisting privatisation to march together in London against austerity. 

National Gallery workers plan a 3-day strike from Tuesday of next week.

Tube and rail workers are also set to strike on budget day. This kind of coordination boosts workers’ confidence and builds solidarity. 

It also gives an example of the kind of action that, if built on nationally, could beat the rotten Tory government.

Union leaders should be calling much more action against the Tories—and workers getting organised can put pressure on them to do that.

National Gallery PCS union rep Candy Udwin told last week’s rally, “We need national strikes when they discuss the Trade Union Bill.

“If they’re scared of resistance—we need to give them more.”

'Don't wait for Labour'

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka told last week’s Unite the Resistance rally, “At a leadership level our movement has failed in the last five years.”

Bfawu union president Ian Hodson speaking at the meeting

Bfawu union president Ian Hodson speaking at the meeting (Pic: Guy Smallman)

He said to “never underestimate what fighting unions can do.” 

And he said the movement needed a “coalition of the willing” to lead a fight.

Bfawu union president Ian Hodson agreed. “The TUC can’t bury its head in the sand or there will be no trade unions left,” he said. “We cannot wait for a Labour government.”

Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Chris Stephens criticised Labour. He said the continuing dispute of the homelessness caseworkers was “a scandal”.

Striker Marie said people voted SNP because it talked about opposing austerity. She said, “Well, let’s see some anti-austerity then.”

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Article information

Tue 7 Jul 2015, 18:07 BST
Issue No. 2461
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