Socialist Worker

Solidarity can help to win this crucial pensions fight

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 1993

Street sweeping at 70 – Is this the government’s vision for the future? (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Street sweeping at 70 – Is this the government’s vision for the future? (Pic: Guy Smallman)

What can you do to make 28 March a day which shakes the government?

Everyone can do something. You can try to get to a picket line, or a lunchtime rally or demo, and encourage people at work or college to go with you.

You could get your anti-war group, student union or Respect branch to support pickets and marches.

But in crucial areas solidarity action is possible.

Schools and colleges are in the front-line, with classroom assistants, caretakers, catering staff and others on strike – but teaching staff potentially still at work.

Fran Postlethwaite, who teaches at Kirk Balk, a comprehensive with 1,200 pupils in Barnsley, reports, “It was possible that the caretaker on duty at my school on the strike day would not be a union member and might have been prepared to open up the school as usual.

“We had a school union meeting on Friday of last week to discuss what we could do to support the strike and make sure it was as effective as possible.

“We were prepared to point to the very real health and safety issues, cover for children with special needs, etc, and to argue with the head that we needed to give notice in advance that the school would close.

“I said if there was a picket line I wasn’t prepared to cross it and 18 out of the 24 members at the meeting (half the school membership) indicated they would also refuse to cross – including all the new teachers in the school.

“My argument to the head was that 25 to 40 teachers wouldn’t cross if there was a picket line. This convinced her the only course of action would be to close the school to kids.

“We also agreed to a £20 per head levy to give to strikers.

“I was astonished at how strong the feeling was of solidarity – I’d urge others to have a go on similar lines.”

A Manchester teacher adds, “The feeling at my school is much stronger than during the last strike by teaching assistants. Then just one struck. This time 21 are going out.

“Two neighbouring schools have already said they will close for the day and my head is considering doing the same after we said we would not cross picket lines.”

There is a huge opportunity to develop solidarity networks between unions and across different sections of public sector workers.

Every union can use 28 March to recruit new members, find fresh people to be stewards and generally revitalise every part of their organisation.

Join the protests next Tuesday

Rallies and demonstrations are taking place across Britain next Tuesday 28 March. Here is a selection

  • Aberdeen 10.30am, Rubislaw Terrace
  • Bristol 11.30am, Castle Green
  • Dundee 11am, Hilltown Park
  • Leeds 11am, Leeds City Art Gallery, Headrow
  • Glasgow 11.30am, Blythswood Square, Glasgow Green
  • Manchester 12 noon, Albert Square
  • Newcastle 12 noon, Grey’s Monument
  • Nottingham 11.30am, Forest Fields
  • Plymouth 11am, Civic Centre, Royal Parade

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Article information

Sat 25 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1993
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