We are the millions and we can win

Far from “all being in this together”, it is classic "them and us". It’s the millions versus the millionaires says Richie Venton

Richie Venton Posted by on November 25, 2011. Filed under Public Spending Cuts. Posted with the tags:,
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We are the millions and we can win

UNISON members defending public sector pension rights. Photo by Craig Maclean

‘Historic’ is a word often over-used, and thereby devalued.

But the strike on 30 November can only be described as historic for its sheer scale and potential impact on the course of events.

Nearly 30 different trade unions have won sweeping mandates for strike action on N30.

About 3million workers are striking together against the assault on their pensions, and the wider cuts, on the same day.

That makes it the biggest single day of strike action in the UK since the momentous 1926 General Strike.

Giant awakes

The slumbering giant of the trade union movement is awakening, rising to challenge the most vicious government since Thatcher.

The Scottish Socialist Party has exposed their class-ridden mission of cutting jobs, wages, benefits, pensions and public services -an assault that aims to turn back the clock to the 1930s, destroying of gains won by decades of struggle, putting profit before people.

The cuts are totally unnecessary; counter­productive as well as devastating, and that they can best be challenged by a potent combination of arguments and action.

Arguments centred on taxation of the rich and democratic public ownership of the banks and big business, so as to put people before profit.

Action focused on the potential power of united action by public sector workers – with the call for a one-day public sector strike in a concerted campaign of resistance… combined with demonstrations, occupations and a rebellion of communities, claimants, pensioners and students.

Now 3million public sector workers are combining in a colossal show of unity and strength, joined by community campaigners, pensioners, students, sick, disabled and unemployed people…and contingents of private sector workers, such as construction site workers engaged in their own showdown with bosses who want to slash their wages by a 35 per cent.

All change after N30

Things will never be the same after the St Andrew’s Day Showdown.

Every worker on strike and every supporter who joins the union rallies will be transformed in their confidence to resist by the fact 3million others are doing likewise.

Behind their arrogant front, the government and bosses will be severely battered and bruised by this one-day strike of almost the entire public sector.

They will lash out and have done so on the eve of the strike, helped by of tabloids like The Sun.

Beneath their upper-class arrogance, the Tories and LibDems are shaken by a movement with such sweep, with such a massive mandate from its own membership through the strike ballots.

This in stark contrast to the Coalition, which only won 23 per cent of voters across the UK, and which has no democratic mandate whatsoever to rule and ruin Scotland in particular.

Rising resistance

Cameron and Clegg have launched a systematic “shock and awe” offensive, announcing wave after wave of cuts, repeating their mantras that “the cuts are unavoidable” and “we are all in this together”, claiming a spirit of ‘national unity’ in the face of adversity.

They aimed to cow and overwhelm people with the ‘inevitability’ of the cuts, with the idea that ‘there’s nothing we can do to stop this Juggernaut’.

And at first they had partial success – especially as Labour and SNP politicians only objected to the pace and depth of the cuts, not the whole concept of cuts being necessary compounded by the slowness of the top union leaders in calling members into action.

Street protests by UK-Uncut, Coalition of Resistance, the SSP, and others; the October 2010 STUC demo of 20,000; the revolt of students last winter; scattered but important community struggles against cuts and closures; the mammoth half-a-million strong TUC demo on 26 March; and especially the 30 June strike by 750,000 civil servants and teachers… all helped explode the myths and encourage the resistance.

Sweeping mandates for action

Now, boosted by these examples, an incredible array of union members have voted by majorities of 75 per cent to 85 per cent in favour of striking together on N30.

This includes NHS staff voting for their first national strike since 1982; EIS members for their first teachers’ national strike in 25 STOP THE CUTS years; the ATL education union for the first strike in their entire 127-year history; and members of the Prison Officers Association voting by 97 per cent in a consultative ballot against the pension cuts, declaring plans to defy the ban on their right to strike on N30.

ConDems panic –and lash out

In response, the ConDem Cuts Coalition has moved from sneering dismissal of opposition to a combination of false promises of concessions and threats of dictatorial measures.

They tried to divide older workers from the rest, by making minor concessions on pensions to those over 50. In tandem with that ploy, LibDem axe-man Danny Alexander accused unions of being “hell-bent on strike action”,desperate to undermine public support for the strikes, measured at 8 out of 10 people in recent opinion polls.

That flopped because workers knew they would still have to pay up to three times more, up to the age of 68, for lesser pensions.

The switch from RPI to CPI as a measure of inflation would alone slash pensions by 20 per cent.

Bizarrely government negotiator Francis Maude suggested a 15-minute strike without loss of pay, instead of the huge impact of a 24­hour stoppage. Union members mocked this as a tea break, not a strike.

Reign of terror

More recently he turned “hard cop” and threatened to withdraw “concessions” if the N30 strike goes ahead – and a speed-up of ruthless anti-strike laws being passed… in a country with some of the most repressive anti union laws in Europe!

Workers’ power

Does this all amount to ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing’?

It shows they are on the run. It shows the millionaires government, is terrified by the impact of the N30 action.

They fear the role it can play in raising millions of less organised working-class people to their feet in resistance.

But it also goes to show the cold, calculating ruling class of Britain, will not just roll over without an almighty fight.

A sign of what is to come was police kettling protesting construction site workers in London – the first use of this method against workers, as opposed to students.

Keep chasing the millionaire robbers!

The stealing of £1.8billion a year from workers’ pensions, in a second tax on public sector workers – money that goes not into pension funds, but straight to the Treasury to pay for the bankers’ bailout

They are on the run, and now is the time for the TUC, STUC and the various national union leaderships to keep chasing them – rather than seeing N30 as the end of the battle.

Whatever the detailed tactics decided for further action in each union, the experience of the past 18 months proves the indispensable need for united national and UK-wide strike action.

The ConDems will try and ignore the biggest strike day for 85 years and further days of such powerful unity in action will need to be called and built.

In the first two months of 2012, Scotland’s 32 local councils and the Scottish government will all be finalising their Budgets. A further Scottish (or UK-wide) one-day strike and mass lobbies of councils and the parliament is a strong option.

Defiance Budgets

instead of passing on the cuts from the Westminster Butchers as willing servants, the Scottish government and local councils set Defiance No-Cuts People’s budgets, and demanded back the stolen £billions from Westminster.

Alongside such militant and united strike days, occupations of threatened facilities by communities, workers and students will have to be considered.

No cuts – tax the rich

And in sustaining the struggle against cuts, a vital weapon is the socialist case that they are totally un­necessary, and devastating to those paying for the crisis created by the bosses of a capitalist system of profiteering.

Taxing the rich would provide mountains of money to invest in decent jobs for a young generation being laid to waste by this system as well as funding decent pay, pensions and benefits for all, and expanded public services.

£120billion a year in taxes is avoided, evaded or simply unpaid by big business and the rich.— over one hundred times as much as is lost through much- trumpeted benefit fraud!

A modest 10 per cent wealth tax on the richest 1,000 fat cats would generate the funds to create 1.4 million new jobs on £25,000 a year.

Socialism, not butchery

Democratic, full public ownership of the banks, big business, energy and services would render poverty obsolete transforming the lives of millions.

There is no scarcity in Scotland or beyond.

Company Directors have average pensions of £175,000 a year – not the miserable £4­5,000 that they brand as ‘gold­plated pensions’ for public sector workers.

The profits of big business have almost doubled since 1970s while wages are at their lowest share of GDP since records began in 1956.

And the switch in how they measure inflation aims to rob workers in existing pension schemes of £100billion

Independent socialist Scotland

Far from “all being in this together”, it is classic ‘them and us’. It’s the millions versus the millionaires.

We are all in this fight together – public and private sector workers, communities and workforces, students and workers, the employed and the unemployed, sick, disabled or pensioners.

N30 will make history but the fight goes on.

Demand further united days of strike action by millions.

Demand “No cuts – tax the rich”.

Demand that the SNP government and local councils set No-Cuts Defiance budgets.

If the SNP, with their popular mandate are serious about ‘standing up for Scotland’ they have the ball at their feet.

Set a No-Cuts budget in defiance of Westminster, demand back the £3.5billion cuts imposed on Scotland by a Coalition with no mandate in Scotland .

The more the London millionaires resist the stronger the case for an independent Socialist Scotland becomes.

That’s why the Scottish Socialist Party demands a cuts-free, Westminster-free, independent socialist Scotland. Join us!