Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/734/15245
We can beat Con-Dems' austerity
March 20 October, TUC demo
Strike, 24-hour general strike
John McInally, the national vice-president of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) spoke in favour of the resolution calling for general strike action against austerity at the recent TUC Congress. The motion was moved by Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA prison officers' union, seconded by Bob Crow, leader of the RMT transport union and received overwhelming support. This is John's speech:
John McInally, national vice-president of the PCS, addressing TUC congress 2012
The motion calls for coordinated action and 'far-reaching' campaigns, including considering the practicalities of a general strike against the government's austerity programme.
Austerity is a sanitised expression for what is an unremitting class war on our people.
The aim is to achieve, on the basis of the cuts and privatisation programme, the biggest transfer of wealth and power in many generations.
At its core is a 'race to the bottom' that is ripping the heart out of our communities.
It means the driving down of wage levels, massive job cuts, the destruction of the welfare state and the NHS and the public services that provide the basis of a civilised existence for working people.
This unprecedented assault can only proceed because of the poisonous political consensus that exists among the major parties - shamefully including Labour - that says there is no alternative to the market and the barbaric proposition that the acquisition of obscene wealth and profit by a tiny unaccountable elite comes before the needs of millions.
Those millions are crying out for an alternative.
They watch in fear and disgust as one outrage follows another:
- The Libor fixing rate affecting millions of workers
- Banks laundering drug money
- Government-instigated hate campaigns against the disabled and unemployed
30 November [public sector strike] demonstrated the massive strength and potential of our movement.
But rather than building on that tremendous display of class solidarity the abject surrender [by right-wing trade union leaders] that followed sent out a message of division, despair and defeatism.
We now have an opportunity to send out a message of hope - loud and clear - that we intend to harness the full strength of our movement and class to stop the austerity programme in its tracks.
The 20 October [TUC demonstration] must be more than another protest march - it must be the platform on which we build coordinated action on the widest possible front across both the public and private sector.
Every union here has a legitimate dispute on pay, pensions, jobs, privatisation or a related issue.
So, let's hear no nonsense about the difficulties or legalities of organising coordinated action.
Let's not fixate about the 'scary words', general strike.
Let us rather sit down together and agree a date for joint action and wider campaigning across the trade union movement as soon as practicably possible after 20 October.
A 24-hour strike as a start to an effective programme of coordinated industrial action and wider campaigning would irrevocably shift the balance of forces in our favour.
How many times must it be said - campaigning works and action gets results.
We have recently won thousands of jobs in the civil service by organising action.
The attacks are increasing, not abating. Millions are waiting for a lead to fight back. Let's provide that lead.
National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN)
For more information on how to build for the demo, and campaign for a 24-hour general strike see www.shopstewards.net or email the National Shop Stewards Network: firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 19 September 2012:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party review