By Isabel Ringrose
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2844

Workers ready to make 15 March a budget day to really remember

Workers in the NEU, PCS, UCU, Aslef and BMA unions are set to strike
Issue 2844

Half a million workers went on strike on 1 February, with a large demonstration in central London. (Picture: Fotologic)

The Tories’ budget day—15 March—is set to see over 500,000 workers out on strike. Even before this week, over 250,000 teachers in the NEU union were to be joined by at least 100,000 civil service workers in the PCS union. And some 1,500 London underground workers from the Aslef union were also scheduled to take part in the day of action.

Reinforcements have arrived. Some 48,000 junior doctors in the British Medical Association have announced they are set to strike on 13, 14 and 15 March to coordinate with budget day.

On Monday leaders of the civil service workers’ Prospect union announced thousands would strike on the day. It follows a ballot where its members voted 80 percent for strikes on a 72 percent turnout.

Later on Tuesday, following pressure from the left and a vote on the union’s higher education body, The UCU union said it was adding 15 March as an additional strike day. Activists will have to keep organising to make sure the strikes are maintained.

And RMT members on the London Underground are also coming out, catching up with Aslef. 

The action on 15 March is now set to be bigger than the one on 1 February when 500,000 teachers, civil servants and lecturers struck together. It is a chance to show the power strikes have when they unite across different unions and disputes. It’s also an opportunity to take to the streets to raise the profile of the strikes.

But for the second time, the RMT union has backed off from joining the action nationally. Instead it has called strikes for the day after—16 March—for 40,000 of its workers. Workers on the 14 train operating companies are set to strike on 16, 18 and 30 March and 1 April.

Network Rail workers are also set to strike on 16 March. Another missed opportunity for united action shows the union leaders’ reluctance to unite and escalate the disputes.

The CWU union, despite its members voting for a continuation of strikes, hasn’t called any action to join the day. 

Every union should be out on 15 March. And it also needs to be a day that draws in un-unionised workers, campaigners against climate change, racism and poverty, LGBT+ and women’s rights activists—and everyone who hates the Tories.

Budget day is a chance to hit back at the Tories over rising prices and much more. The 15 March strikes and demos can give workers confidence to push forward with their disputes and make sure union leaders don’t renege on the strikes.

But individual days of unified action aren’t enough to break the Tories and put enough pressure on the bosses. More united days with escalated action will be the decisive blow.

Building strike committees is important to increase participation and independent initiative. Without that the key decisions remain in the hands of the general secretaries.

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