Wednesday 30 November is a day socialist and trade union militants have longed for. After decades in the wilderness, N30 signals the return of mass working class resistance in Britain.
The strike demonstrates the enormous power that the organised working class has.
Union after union delivered thumping votes for action. Up to three million are on strike and hundreds of thousands are taking to the streets to demonstrate in towns and cities.
This is the biggest strike of women workers ever seen in Britain. Low-paid workers stand shoulder to shoulder with professional workers. Black, white and Asian workers are striking and marching together.
They are sticking two fingers up to David Cameron’s attacks on multiculturalism and his crude attempts to play the race card.
N30 is a beacon for all those who want to resist this government’s attacks.
Students, pensioners, private sector workers and activists from the Occupy movement are joining strikers on picket lines and marches.
The growing fightback in Britain is part of an arc of resistance which spans the globe.
In the past year we have seen revolutions and uprisings of the ‘Arab Spring’, general strikes in Greece, France, Portugal and Spain and the emergence of the Occupy movement.
The enemy of all is austerity, neoliberalism and poverty.
Yes, the slashing of public sector pensions was the detonator for the strikes but they are about much more than pensions.
The central question now facing the union movement is where it goes next after N30.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, was absolutely right when he spoke to the Financial Times last week.
“It’s Alice in Wonderland stuff to think 30 November will happen and people will stop and take part in rallies and then go home and say, ‘that’s all right, now we will give in,’” he said.
But there are some who do want us to give in.
It is a disgrace that Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, refused to support the strikes.
And it is clear some in the TUC don’t want to continue the fight either. Some union officials say they don’t want to call any further action. They just want to use the N30 strikes as a bargaining chip to gain a few minor concessions from the government.
But the vast majority of people striking today don’t just want a few crumbs from the Tories’ table—they are in this fight to win it.
Now is not the time to throw away this historic opportunity to defeat the government. Everyone on strike and everybody who marches today knows that this is a fantastic start to the fight—but alone it will not be enough to win.
The Socialist Workers Party says that the action must escalate.
We want to see further one-day mass strikes of millions in January. Private sector workers and other public sector workers not yet out should be demanding to join the next wave of action.
Our call will be for a general strike of all workers. But one day strikes will not be enough—that’s why we raise the slogan, “All out, stay out”.
Likewise we encourage local, regional and sectional action designed to stop job cuts, defend public services and protect conditions. We want this action to build the mass strikes, not be a substitute for them.
And we encourage students, pensioners, anti-cuts campaigners and anyone else who hates this government to get behind the unions and link the struggles.
If we win this battle it will be a victory for everyone. One of the great slogans that arose out of Occupy Wall Street in the US was ‘We are the 99 percent’.
As one protester said, “We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care.
‘We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.”
This is true for Britain too. That’s the why we have to escalate the action to win.
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