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Strikes lift confidence—and they can win

This article is over 10 years, 2 months old
Issue 2399

The Tories are leading an attack on workers to pay for a crisis that the rich caused.

They have refused a pay rise for nurses at a time when they are under ever increasing pressure from cuts to the health service.

Job cuts mean that in some places there is one nurse to every 18 patients. And student nurses have even been pushed to take second jobs in places such as McDonalds just to get by.

In contrast the rich will never have to worry about how they are going to manage to pay the bills or put food on the table.

This week health workers voted overwhelmingly to ballot to strike back against the government’s attacks on the NHS.

This could see some 450,000 health workers in the Unison union take action.

Workers have tremendous power. Whenever health workers strike the Tories attack them for being greedy and putting patients at risk.

But the Tories don’t care about patients. It is their cuts to the NHS that are putting them at risk, not striking workers.

They attack NHS workers because strikes in the health service would hit the Tories hard. 

Hundreds of thousands of workers walking out of hospitals around the country is the kind of unity that the Tories fear.

They want to divide us and make us blame each other for poverty, low pay and unemployment.

They want people to feel helpless in the onslaught of their attacks. That’s why they hate strikes because they have the opposite effect.

Strikes empower workers and give them more confidence to fight. They are more than simply a form of protest—they provide an opportunity for workers to show their collective power.

Last month thousands of schools shut down around the country as teachers in the NUT union went on a national strike.  

Accounts from striking teachers spoke about how the walkout had made them feel that they weren’t alone in feeling stressed and overworked.

And a one-day strike is a good start, but unions have to make the most of the confidence that builds up around taking action.

The Tories want to tear up the welfare state. We can’t let them get away with it.

That means that one-day strikes should be the springboard to escalating action. It can build on the sense of strength that coming together on strike brings. 

And for all the bosses and government say they are a thing of the past, strikes can win. 

A strike by hundreds of thousands of NHS workers would cause a political crisis for the Tories.

And a victory for health workers would be a huge boost for everyone wanting a fight against austerity.

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