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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 September 2012

We can stop this austerity

Build a 24-hour general strike

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party secretary
Build a 24-hour general strike

What a fantastic moment. Chants for a 24-hour general strike rang out along the Brighton seafront, as sun-seeking families lined the route of the National Shop Stewards Network march and applauded.

We saw a glimpse of how millions of people can be lifted out of the anger and fear engulfing them and transformed into a force that can change it all.

The trade union movement, organising 6.5 million workers, would be a mighty force if it acted in concert. Imagine the effect if all the schools, all the council workers, all the firefighters, all the government staff and NHS workers, out on strike and taking to the streets, were joined by all the train staff, power plant workers, builders and electricians, and by cleaners, factory and shop workers.

NSSN lobby of TUC 2012 congress calling for a 24-hour general strike, photo by  Socialist Party

NSSN lobby of TUC 2012 congress calling for a 24-hour general strike, photo by Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

That would have enormous power. And just imagine the effect that would have on workers not in unions, on unemployed people, young people and families. There could be a rising up of all those people hit so hard - and to be hit even harder yet - by pay freezes, benefit cuts, tuition fees, the closure of youth centres, the decimation of essential services and so on, and on, and on.

At the moment many see no hope. What can we do when our housing benefit is cut, our tax credits are cut, and the landlord says he's going to put the rent up? When the queue at the food bank gets longer, when the queue for every low-paid zero-hour contract gets bigger? Save the Children showed that the poorest children bear the brunt of the recession and cuts, losing out on hot meals, new shoes, birthday celebrations, school trips.

What will it mean? More riots - the cry of the dispossessed? More people turning to the far right in despair?

Strength of unity

NSSN TUC protest and rally calling for a 24-hour general strike, photo Socialist Party

NSSN TUC protest and rally calling for a 24-hour general strike, photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

But now, with the talk of a general strike, all that fear and struggle can be gathered up, organised, and made powerful.

And it can be given a voice. A new poll, reported in the Guardian, shows that by a wide margin people in Britain think we need to "fundamentally change the way our country and economy works". They're right!

It doesn't take much imagination to work it out. How about, instead of 800 billion 'owned' by big corporations sitting in the bank doing nothing, we use it to employ young people and all those public sector workers who have been made redundant? Instead of the government giving money to the banks, for them to sit on, refusing to loan, the money is used to build houses, re-build schools and re-open youth centres? Instead of the rich getting richer at our expense, we could plan, using the enormous wealth lying idle, for the benefit of all of us. Democratic socialist planning is not such a great leap of the imagination.

A 24-hour general strike won't sort all of that out in one go. But it would be so momentous that it could really dent the cuts programme, it could lead to the toppling of this weak government, and it could transform the ideas and the hopes of millions - if we can do this, what else could we do...?

Following the above article being written, the TUC's 2012 Congress voted to support Motion 5, proposed by the POA prison officers' union which calls for a general strike against austerity.
See:
TUC passes general strike motion

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In The Socialist 12 September 2012:


Fight against austerity

Build a 24-hour general strike

TUC passes general strike motion

NSSN lobby demands a 24-hour general strike

Teachers must unite against Tories


Socialist Party news and analysis

Nationalise the banks

Cabinet reshuffle

Con-Dem housing measures - in 'the thick of it'?

After the Paralympics... Stop the Con-Dems' assault on disabled

Cable attacks health and safety

'Red tape' bonfire puts workers at more risk

More bad news from media mogul Murdoch


International socialist news and analysis

Quebec Solidaire's electoral gains show potential for left

Honduras: Privatised cities in the global economy


Socialist Party feature: TUSC

We need a political voice to fight austerity


Socialist Party youth and students

Socialist students: Fighting for education

Bristol YFJ: "We're not lazy - we're fighting back"

Global youth unemployment rises

Youth Fight for Jobs in action! Coming events


Socialist Party workplace news

Workers' unity against brutal bosses at Cranswick Foods

East Coast train cleaners on strike

RMT assistant secretary arrested on picket line


Fighting NHS cuts

NHS under attack - Stop the closures, stop the cuts

Bromsgrove meeting opposes A&E closure

Demo against heart unit closure in Leicester


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Sheffield Socialist Party pickets strike-breaking facility

Brent Labour: Making families homeless

Young tenants to lobby Leeds council over housing crisis


Reviews and comments

The Reunion rewrites history: the Poll Tax

The shame of sexism in sport

How we stopped the racist EDL


 

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