Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Solidarity Forever! Support the Local Strikes

The politcal elites are using the credit crisis to drive down our wages, they hope to stabilise their profits by squeezing the working class. They seek to impose a cut in living standards on all public sector workers, as the first step in attacking the wages of all working people.

There has been (or will be) strike action across a huge section of the union movement: Teachers, Postal Workers, Civil Servants, Council Workers, Railway workers, Lecturers and others. If all these unions were strike on the same day - a general strike of the public sector - it would turn an economic dispute into a political blow against New Labour.

Brown has been using divide and rule - in his references to public sector workers enjoying privileges that most workers don't enjoy - but if the attack on pay in the public sector succeeds it will send a clear signal to big business to start cutting wages for workers in the private sector: They divide each to conquer all.

Therefore, each individual struggle of a group of workers against the pay freeze is a fight for all working people, because they are part of a fightback against the attempt to impose a cut in living standards and wages on ALL working people.

In our group we have been trying in a modest way to support groups of workers on strike - taking collections at our workplaces for striking workers, setting up an informal network of rank and file unionists, trying to make people aware that these disputes are in defence all working people, and trying to push for co-ordinated strike action. We also seek to build a grassroots alternative to the union bureaucracy and Labour Party link. Sure it's not perfect, but if we can help build a fighting coalition of the working class on some level, then that will be something.

Supporters of the LEFT Alternative will be on strike this week, and others will be visiting picket lines. It's all about basic working class solidarity. For us, any working class people trying to fight back against the bosses merit support.

This strike is taking place against the backdrop of wider unrest. Currently a huge proportion of people in Wales work in the public sector, the attempt at a wage freeze comes at the same time as workers are already feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices, electricity and water bills, rising council tax, rising food prices. We also know that it's not everyone being told to tighten their belts - for the rich, they've never had it so good!

As socialists we support the trade union movement. We believe that if this strike is successful it will build confidence among other workers to organise and improve the lot of our class. People in Britain now work the longest hours for the worst pay in Europe - why? Because the trade union movement was smashed under Thatcher. Supporting these seemingly small disputes is part of rebuilding the combativity of working class organisations so that we can begin to improve the life and conditions of people in Wales and start pushing back against the continued dismantling of the Welfare State and the reforms won in 1945 like free health care and free education. Because of their strategic power under capitalism, workplace organisation is very important, the best weapon for social justice that we have.

The strikes this week are not just a dispute between one group of workers and the council, but rather about working people as a whole bettering themselves through collective organisation and collective struggle.

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