An important step forward for the movement
Yesterday’s industrial action was a significant show of opposition to the government’s cuts agenda and in particular its assault on the pensions of public sector workers. It also represented an important step forward for the anti-cuts movement both in the forms of action being taken and in terms of the numbers of people mobilised to take a stand in opposition to the Con-Dems. The use of strike action, contrary to the views of leading Labour figures such as Ed Milliband and Ed Balls, is a vital weapon in the armoury of the working class as it goes into battle to defend itself from the government’s attacks.
The program of capitalist austerity which is currently being meted out to working class and poor people on a global scale will not be stopped easily. It will take organised and militant action on a mass scale and the development of a genuine alternative (certainly not a government led by Ed Milliband!) by the working class movement. As Unite leader, Len McCluskey, speaking at the PCS conference, said ‘this is a capitalist crisis and they must foot the bill.’ He argued for the formation of ‘joint strike committees where we can’ and went as far as arguing that, ‘we need to work together… to mobilise… behind a different vision of how society should be, putting people before profit and… putting socialism back on the political agenda in this country.’
Yesterday’s action showed signs of the potential for involving wider layers of workers in future strike action. Many members of the public were happy to give their support to those out on strike. We also saw impressively large rallies across the country. There were 5,000 in Manchester, 2,000 in Sheffield, and locally 300 people packed out the rally in Northampton’s Guildhall while around 150 marched through the centre of Milton Keynes. Members of the Coalition of Resistance also visited a number of the PCS union’s picket lines in the morning in Milton Keynes to show our support for their action. We met workers from the Department for Work and Pensions, Revenue and Customs, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The picketing was particularly strong at Bowback House on Silbury Blvd. There was also a strong turnout from members of the National Union of Teachers for the combined rally in Campbell Park. Many schools were closed for the day, with others running a limited service, following the industrial action by NUT and ATL members. Throughout the day we distributed a leaflet produced jointly by Milton Keynes Coalition of Resistance and Milton Keynes Trades Council to both strikers and members of the public. Our organisations will have a key role to play in providing solidarity as more and more workers are won to the idea of taking industrial action and we need to win more people to get involved. At our next Coalition of Resistance organising meeting on Tuesday July 5 at 7pm at Bletchley Railway Club we will be discussing how we can best go about meeting these challenges.
Finally, it is important to remember that not only is the attack on working class and poor people global in scale, but the resistance to it is global too. Currently this resistance is expressed in its most acute form in Greece, but we have also seen significant struggles across the Arab world, and from Spain to Wisconsin, USA, and beyond. We need to utilise the global nature of our struggle to its fullest capacity. As well as arguing for the vital task of separate UK unions coordinating their actions for greatest effect, we need to begin to organise and coordinate our actions on the international level. If workers across Europe took strike action all together then that would certainly make an impact.