AS IMPORTANT as they are, these strikes are not the immediate answer for the whole working class. Given weak levels of unionisation and strikes in Britain since the 1980s and Thatcher, there must be a social movement against the high cost of living crisis—the poor, those on benefits, pensioners, low income workers and precarious sections of the middle classes need their incomes indexed to inflation as well.
While some left wing trade union leaders have gotten together in a campaign called Enough is Enough, they have not yet created local organisations that can harness the huge support for such a movement.
This is an urgent necessity, and they must be democratic, with mass meetings and delegates from local union and Labour branches, workplaces, housing estates and genuine campaigns of the poor, women, black and other minorities.
This could deliver powerful solidarity to the strikes and help build their rank and file and radicalism, could monitor actual prices in the local supermarkets and create a workers inflation index, while through mass protests, occupations, anti-eviction actions, force the government and local supermarkets to lower price caps and put new ones on food, confiscate profits and create mass support for nationalisation of the energy and food companies, without any compensation and under the control of the workers and the consumers themselves.
We face a Spring of mass anger and desperation. February 1 could be the beginning of a campaign of resistance that raises the prospect of finishing off this government completely. But a terrible crisis of organisation exists alongside this radicalising consciousness, and a crisis of leadership where the existing leaders of the unions (much less Labour) will do too little, too late, if at all to stop the Tory attacks.
We have to rebuild the working class movement from the bottom up in order to put it on a war footing. This means fighting for rank and file democracy in the unions, with all leaders elected, subject to recall, and democratic control over all strikes and negotiations. At the same time we need to mobilise a mass social movement to take up the fight for price controls of rent, bills and essential goods. We can do this by forming councils of action in every neighbourhood to unite unions, Labour parties and communities on a common programme of resistance.
Fighting for this alternative strategy needs organisation, and a political weapon—a mass workers’ party with a socialist programme.