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Posted on 13 November 2017 at 13:52 GMT

Mears picket line, 13.11.17, photo by Becci Heagney

Mears picket line, 13.11.17, photo by Becci Heagney   (Click to enlarge)

Manchester strike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

Hugh Caffrey, North West Socialist Party

Mears housing maintenance workers began (on 13 November) a programme of 49 days of strike action, joining numerous other groups of workers fighting back in Greater Manchester.

Bus drivers at Arriva and Firstbus, train guards also employed by Arriva on the Northern franchise, Manchester airport cleaners and cabin crew, university staff and employees of IT companies Capita and Fujitsu.

Mostly in the private sector, nonetheless many of these disputes have as their root the privatisation and austerity carried out by successive governments - and councils, especially the Blairite Manchester city council.

Labour-run Manchester city council is behind the 'Rail North' project pushing driver-only operation on the trains and the outsourcing of social housing. It's a major shareholder in Manchester Airport, and it's overseeing a patchwork of privatised buses.

Residents are suffering 30 million of cuts as the council carries out austerity for its Tory friends, and stashes away another 27 million in reserves.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester's mayor, Andy Burnham, visited the Capita picket line - but not the pickets by housing or bus workers, policy areas for which he is actually responsible.

Mears strikers, July 2017, photo Becci Heagney

Mears strikers, July 2017, photo Becci Heagney   (Click to enlarge)

Clearly, Corbyn's new politics hasn't reached the Blairite establishment that's firmly in charge of local government in Manchester.

Housing and transport workers, and others, can tap into massive public support: solidarity that is multiplied by wanting to resist companies which make working class people's lives a misery!

With determined strike action and mass struggle, major victories can be won for the working class. These are the kind of ideas that the Socialist Party in Manchester is discussing with all the strikers. Unity in action is strength, and socialist policies point the way forward.


Send messages of support to Unite rep Colin Pitt: colinpitt65@hotmail.co.uk and Unite regional officer Andy.fisher@unitetheunion.org; and post donations to: Unite House, Merchants Quay, Salford Quays, Salford M50 3SG

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 13 November 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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Related links:

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triangleManctopia: billion pound property boom

triangleManchester & Salford Socialist Party: What does the general election result mean for 2020?

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Strike:

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Council:

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Rail:

triangleTransport union RMT tells members: refuse to work in unsafe conditions

Greater Manchester:

triangleArriva Rail North under pressure after nineteenth Saturday strike

Austerity:

triangleTUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

Bus workers:

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

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