(Photo credit: Paul McGowan)
The historic joint strike action taking place currently gives a glimpse of the mighty potential power of the workers’ movement. On the railways, at the docks and in the postal service, trade union members are striking back together.
Standing behind them – quite literally where Enough is Enough rallies and protests have been called – will be thousands more working-class people. And this must just be the beginning. Because while our unions are starting to coordinate action, so are the bosses and their friends in the Tory party. Kwarteng’s mini-budget means war on trade unions.
The legislation he announced within it threatens to make legal strike action practically impossible in most cases. It would give bosses the power to delay strike action indefinitely simply by tabling one derisory ‘offer’ after another. Meanwhile, ‘minimal service levels’ would seriously undermine the effectiveness of action which does get off the ground. These are assaults on basic and fundamental democratic rights.
So much at stake
Not coincidentally, an outrageous, all-out assault is being planned on the Communication Workers Union by Royal Mail bosses. They are working together to try and break our movement. They are doing so for one reason: because they fear it.
They know what is at stake here. This is a battle over who pays the price for the latest in a long run of catastrophic crises facing the capitalist system. A victory for workers taking strike action – especially for those involved in the currently largest national strikes in rail and mail – could light a fire that spreads rapidly. It could dramatically alter the balance in favour of workers fighting back and prepare the ground for an offensive by our movement more widely.
That is why the requirements of solidarity are paramount. We need to build the action and broaden it to other sectors. Fighting to win ballots in the NHS, schools and universities will be crucial in the coming weeks. So will coordination.
The more workers strike together the more powerful we are. The strikes in Royal Mail and BT, along with the railways, need to be continued and stepped up. To keep building the momentum, escalating the frequency, continuity and volume of strike days is now essential.
Coordinate from below
The TUC’s right-wing leadership has shown itself to be totally unwilling to do what’s necessary in the face of these massive attacks on trade union members and on trade unions themselves. As things stand, the only significant action they plan is a ‘parliamentary lobby’ on 2 November. One way that it might be possible to use this would be for Enough is Enough to call for a major day-time demonstration to take place on this day. If it had half a backbone, the TUC would call and coordinate an initial, one-day general strike this autumn. But waiting and hoping for leaders to act when their record is so poor would be mistaken.
Workers on the ground need to take matters into our own hands. We must build action from the bottom up and fight for maximum coordination. Where we can, we must replace union leaders unwilling to struggle with those who will.
We must demand that union leaders who are prepared to fight get together, building for the maximum number of workers possible to strike on the same day. If generalised action takes place, we must fight to ensure the call to take part is extended beyond formally organised layers to include those who, like in Amazon, see the need to struggle.
Capitalism is bankrupt – fight for socialism
The Tory party was formed for the purpose of class warfare. Their most recent twelve years in power have been marked by a relentless war waged against the pay and conditions of workers, and against the services and welfare ordinary people have relied on. But the system they defend is ailing and decrepit. It creates massive wealth and unheard of abundance, but this wealth is only for a tiny few.
The Enough is Enough initiative has galvanised thousands of working class people who want to fight back. It shows the massive appetite which exists in society for real and radical change. But to meet its full potential, the campaign must be a forum for democratic discussion and energetic campaigning. It must be a space to organise and to coordinate, bringing together trade unionists, climate activists, feminist and anti-racist campaigns. It should also be a place where ideas can be debated.
Because to win the change that is really needed, our movement needs big ideas. We need ideas that represent the real interests of working-class people, ideas we can fight around. We need an alternative to the logic of this sick market system of poverty and chaos.
That alternative is socialism – based on public ownership of not just rail, mail and energy, but of the banks and monopolies that currently dominate the economy. With democratic planning by working-class people, we can build a world that works for the millions, not the millionaires.