Articles  •  Britain

After 30 November – escalate the action to win!

29 November 2011

Workers Power leaflet for the picket lines and protests on N30
• No concessions on pensions
• Link up all the struggle against all the cuts
• With the officials where possible, without them where necessary
• Forward to a general strike to bring down the Tories
Today’s historic strike – the biggest since 1926 – has put one question on everyone’s lips: what next in the fight to stop the pensions robbery and beat the Tory cuts?
With millions on strike and tens of thousands on the streets all over Britain, the answer is clear. Escalate the action.
Every union branch should be bombarding national offices and the TUC with calls for another strike – and the next one should be two days or three days, stepping up the fight. We should be linking up from below, across the unions, to deliver action against all the Tory cuts.
No concessions on pensions
The Tories know that anger is growing and that today’s strike can lead to more action. That’s why Lib Dem minister Danny Alexander admitted, “Striking will harden opinion on the union side and make it harder for them to sell a deal to their members.”
Alexander’s statement reveals what the Coalition is hoping for – that our union leaders will agree to partial concessions and avoid future strikes. Concessions that could leave us working longer, paying more and getting less in old age.
Faced with today’s strike by 33 unions the government will probably try to break our unity by offering temporary concessions to, say, local government workers, simply to take them off the battlefield. And right wing union leaders, like Dave Prentis of Unison and Gail Cartmail of Unite, seem to be begging for this by saying future talks and further strike action will be held on a scheme-by-scheme basis.
Link up the struggles against all the cuts
Instead we should unite the disputes and say we will strike together until the entire pension “reform” is scrapped and every sector of workers is satisfied. Yes, this is against the Tory anti-union laws, but the laws would be unworkable if we all struck together.
We can do it – if we link the pensions fight to all the other struggles against the cuts: the 500,000 public sector workers facing job losses, the electricians mobilised against an imposed 35 per cent pay cut, students opposed to the fees hike, unemployed and disabled people fighting cuts in benefits, young people camping out and occupying city centre spaces in protest against inequality.
That way we could stop not just the pensions robbery, but the Tories’ whole dirty plan to make the working class pay for the great financial crisis we didn’t cause.
With the leaders where possible, without them where necessary
How can we do this if some of our most important union leaders are willing to settle for less? There’s only one way. It means building rank and file organisations in every union – like the electricians have built – to prepare for more strikes, oppose the leaders selling out, and deliver action without them if necessary.
It means setting up joint action committees in every town and city, bringing together delegates from every workplace, every campaign, every union branch – all the people fighting the cuts. We can link up with the city centre occupations to stage great General Assemblies of workers, unemployed and young people to pledge all out resistance to the cuts.
It means escalating to a general strike that no anti-union law could possibly control and which could bring down the government and bust the whole cuts programme.
The Tories and the ruling class are terrified of our strike because they know that all over the world people are rising up against austerity and cuts – from Greece to the USA. They know it can happen here. We should know it too – and what it will take to make it happen.
Socialist measures against capitalist crisis
• Reverse all cuts and privatisations
• Nationalise the banks without compensation under the democratic control of workers and consumers
• A single state owned and guaranteed pension scheme – decent pensions for all
• End unemployment – cut the hours not the jobs, with no loss of pay
• Tax the rich to absorb the deficit and fund a huge programme of public works
• Cancel the national debt: pay the workers, not the bondholders
• Cut the wars – troops out of Afghanistan now
• A democratic plan of production in place of the madness of the market
• A workers’ government based on delegates elected by assemblies of working class people
An anticapitalist alternative
The Labour Party, under a new leader backed by the big unions, has disappointed working peoples’ hopes that things might change from the days of Blair and Brown; that he might oppose and attack the whole cuts agenda, put the blame on the bankers and support militant action to stop the wrecking of our services.
Instead we got the same old policies as Brown’s – cuts to pay back the billionaire bondholders, only more slowly; a refusal to support strikers; sermons that change must only come through elections.
It’s plain we need not just different leaders but a different sort of party – a fighting party of activists who democratically decide its policies and make its MPs and councillors fight for them. It also needs to be party not afraid to say this system must be replaced in its entirety – it must be anticapitalist and socialist.
The party we need must say the political power we need to bring this about cannot be won at elections because they leave the real levers of power in the hands of the unelected agents of the capitalists, the army and the police chiefs. Only a mass workers’ revolution can put the working class in power.
We need a party armed with a strategy to do this. It must be a party that is internationalist – uniting with workers across Europe, around the world fighting the same battles, fighting racism, sexism and the destruction of the planet.
In the historic struggles developing around us can we build such a party? Yes we can. Setting up a new mass party is so important that we should not postpone it – instead we call on all activists and all the campaigning and socialist groups to come together and discuss the formation of a new party over the months ahead.

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