Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our turn to have our say

Well, what a great day. I don't have an awful lot to say about the strikes themselves. Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers took action, shutting down facilities all over the UK. Against some of the sillier claims by the press, the action was extensive - over 90% of PCS members were out in some departments - and the numbers on the streets large. I was privileged to take part in a march of some 30,000 people through the streets of London this lunchtime.

My day began on a picket line at a local FE college.

The picket was well attended, lively, and succeeded in persuading several students not to enter the building.

Later on, I joined in the march to the rally at Westminster.

The rally itself was packed out. A particular highlight was the level of militancy in speakers from the, historically ultra-cautious, ATL, bringing home the level of radicalisation that has taken place in response to this government. Several speakers stressed the importance of not allowing the Government to get away with a divide-and-rule strategy, but of instead arguing for decent pensions for all workers, whether in the public or the private sector. Above all, there was a consensus that this excellent day of action will not be enough in itself. In order to beat the ConDems on pensions, let alone on the austerity measures more generally, we need a concerted and co-ordinated series of strikes, involving Unite, Unison, and others, in the autumn.

Mark Serwotka summed it up, "Three quarters of a million today. Four million in the autumn".

These are not simply idle words. A strike of that size can happen, and it has to happen. Here are some suggestions for doing your bit towards making sure it does:

  • Talk about your support for the strike with collegaues, family, and friends. If you were out on strike, or involved in solidarity actions, talk about these.
  • Start arguing within your union branches for strike action in the autumn, co-ordinated with other unions. Pass motions in support of this. The case must be made for setting a date for action now and sticking to it.
  • If you are a Labour Party member, do you bit in opposing Ed Miliband's betrayal of public sector workers by expressing your support for strikes here.
I'll be posting on Miliband himself after a coffee break. But let's not let him dominate the day. This was our day, and the start of something very big indeed.

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