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Build on a year of strikes

We need to build rank and file networks to go beyond the union leaders’ strategy
Issue 2860
RMT union members at Waterloo station stand with banners and flags during the rail strike

The rail strike started a year ago marked the return of open class struggle

It’s been a year since strikes began on the rail. It was soon clear they were part of a big shift in workers’ struggle. The latest Office for National Statistics figures show there were 3.7 million strike days in the 11 months to April this year. That’s the highest number in an 11-month period in over 30 years.

The support for the strikes, and the sense that “the working class is back”. came mainly from the impact of soaring price rises that hit every working class person. But anger over how our rulers behaved during Covid, and the bitterness at inequality, were also important.

Strikes have underlined that not a wheel turns or a patient is treated without workers. Our class has the potential to win on pay and to begin to reshape the world. But the anniversary can’t just be a moment for celebration and to blame the Tories. 

Most workers still face pay cuts once price rises are taken into account. That’s not just because of ruthless bosses, but because union leaders have held back the fight. Far too often strikes have been limited to occasional moments of resistance with long gaps between them. There have been far too few attempts to bring different actions together.

And union leaders have repeatedly pushed poor deals. We need victories, and that means building rank and file networks to go beyond the union leaders’ strategy. The Workers’ Summit on 23 September is an important chance to do this.

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