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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2011

Build for 30 Nov strike - The fight of all our lives!

Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) chair
Jarrow March 2011: Jarrow March for Jobs arrives in London, photo Paul Mattsson

Jarrow March 2011: Jarrow March for Jobs arrives in London, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

One year ago over 50,000 students marched through the streets of London. That march set off a mass movement of hundreds of thousands of young people against the rises in tuition fees and the abolition of the EMA allowance for college students.

Then we had the 26 March TUC mass demonstration and the fantastic strike of 750,000 civil servants, teachers and lecturers on 30 June.

Now we're just days away from 30 November (N30), when up to three million public sector workers will be striking to defend their pensions.

This will be an overwhelmingly popular strike because all those who have suffered from these cuts want someone to stand up for them. A Guardian poll found 77% of respondents thought public sector workers were justified in going on strike.

The grievances about all the cuts and attacks, the anger and frustrations, have been transferred into the battle over pensions. From the 250,000 job losses in the public sector this year to the thousands of pounds lost by many because councils of all pro-big business parties have attacked contracts. Workers are very practical. They'll say: "We might not have stopped all the cuts and saved all the jobs but on pensions we can win!"

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) was initiated in 2006 by the transport union RMT but we were created for times like this. The NSSN will always give support and solidarity to workers in struggle.

Jarrow March 2011: Jarrow March for Jobs arrives in London, photo Paul Mattsson

Jarrow March 2011: Jarrow March for Jobs arrives in London, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

We'll always bring together rank and file stewards and activists to learn from each other. But in times like this, we act as a lever on the official union structures and leaders to push them to act, popularising the idea of coordinated strike action.

I estimate that we've given out well over 100,000 leaflets this year, with "For a 24-hour public sector general strike" on them. Isn't that what we've got on 30 November?

We lobbied the TUC last year, calling for a national demonstration against the cuts, which we think played a part in getting the 26 March demo organised.

And on 11 September over 700 shop stewards came to our rally and then marched and lobbied the TUC, calling for a coordinated strike against the Con-Dems' attacks on pensions.

The NSSN appeals to everyone to make sure that on N30 there's a demonstration in your town that reaches out to everyone who has suffered from this government's attacks.

We also need to involve workers in the private sector. The magnificent protests of the construction electricians at 6.30am every Wednesday for the last three months show that a united front of all workers can be built against the government and the employers.

The Jarrow March for Jobs has re-tied the knot of history. Now we're writing our own history with one of the biggest workers' marches this year and the biggest strike for 85 years on N30. We can succeed in the present by defeating the attacks on pensions and forcing this government out.

This is based on a speech made by Rob Williams at the closing rally of the Socialism weekend.

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In The Socialist 9 November 2011:

Fighting the cuts

Build for 30 Nov strike - The fight of all our lives!

Socialist Party event

Socialism 2011: Crucial preparation for the fightback

Socialist Party youth and students

Jarrow march ends, fightback continues

We won't pay 9K! - Scrap tuition fees

Socialist Party workplace news

Unison members say YES to strike

Southampton: Sink Tory cuts!

Bombardier protest against job losses

Workplace news in brief

Socialist history

1935 - when angry Welsh protests forced a government u-turn

1915 - How strikes and rent strikes won gains for Scottish tenants

International socialist news and analysis

Failed G20 summit takes eurozone nearer to the abyss

Greek workers must resist the dictatorship of finance capital

Socialist MEP among Gaza peace activists kidnapped by IDF

Israel: General strike over job security

Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing slump

Miliband the militant? No way!

News in brief


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