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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 May 2018

Use TUC march as launch pad for action on pay

Trade union leaders marching on the TUC's 'Britain needs a pay rise' demo in 2014, photo Paul Mattsson

Trade union leaders marching on the TUC's 'Britain needs a pay rise' demo in 2014, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams, Socialist Party industrial organiser

If the Trade Union Congress (TUC) hadn't organised a demonstration on 12 May, given the weakness of the Tories, we would be calling for it.

The Socialist Party and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) were campaigning for such a march in the summer and autumn last year. One of the main demands of the NSSN's rally at September's TUC congress was for the "TUC to name the date for a pay demo".

During TUC congress, the government announced a slight relaxing of the pay freeze for the police and prison officers. This was a reflection of the pressure and anger of workers who have faced a lost decade in terms of living standards.

This was the perfect time for the unions to use the TUC congress to map out a strategy of using a mass demonstration in the autumn as a platform for coordinated strikes across the public sector. This would have fed into the wave of strikes that have developed over the last year.

The massive votes by members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in Royal Mail, and the University and College Union (UCU) in pre-1992 universities have shown that the undemocratic voting thresholds of the Tory Trade Union Act can be overcome. National strike action is possible, on condition that the unions build a real fighting campaign for it.

The scale of the CWU yes vote, backed up by a series of unofficial walkouts, forced Royal Mail management to table a deal acceptable to postal workers. UCU members pushed back the employers' assault on their pensions after 14 days of strikes.

There have also been many other strikes on a local or individual basis, often over pay, with many weeks of action being taken, such as by Mears housing workers in Manchester and now Unison members in FCC Wilmington. Usdaw members in Tesco distribution in Dagenham have won a strike ballot and are due to walk out on 17-18 May.

May Day saw the second strike by McDonald's workers. Also, the RMT transport union is in its third year of fighting driver-only operation, with strikes in five different train companies.

The TUC has finally called a demonstration. But in the meantime, local government unions have settled their pay claim and NHS workers are now voting on theirs.

PCS has called on its members to march to build for its national strike ballot that will be launched at its annual conference from 21 May. Teachers in the National Education Union have agreed a strategy to fight for an inflation-proof pay rise and UCU members in further education have already started taking action on pay. On top of this, there is the continuing crisis in the NHS.

The Windrush scandal that has claimed Amber Rudd is further evidence of the crisis within May's Tory government. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and the trade union leaders must mobilise behind the banner of 'May out! Tories out! General election now!

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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.

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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.

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In The Socialist 9 May 2018:


Local elections 2018

Local election results are a major warning sign for Labour

The Tusc results

Southampton: Keith Morrell, anti-cuts councillor, re-elected

Haringey councillors need to fight austerity now

TUSC vote up in Waltham Forest but many voters stay away

TUSC stands against Birmingham council's cuts and attacks on workers

Strong TUSC result in Huddersfield


France '68

France '68: History's greatest general strike erupts


Socialist Party news and analysis

US president suggests gun control to blame for London knife deaths

Use TUC march as launch pad for action on pay

Breast cancer screening scandal


Israel/Palestine

Socialists fight for Palestinian liberation and workers' unity

Socialists in Israel-Palestine reject establishment antisemitism charge against Jeremy Corbyn


Obituaries

Roger Shrives, 5 April 1947 - 1 May 2018

Keith Pattenden 28 September 1955 - 1 May 2018

Obituary: Tony Byrne 1939 - 2018


Socialist Party workplace news

Hull Energy Works: Unofficial strike action reinstates victimised workers

Defend Hull FE College - defend our city!

Victory against academisation at Avenue Primary

Firefighters ballot for action

PCS: A fighting strategy to defeat the Tory pay cap


International socialist news and analysis

Teachers revolt in Trump country

China: Impressive, coordinated and daring crane drivers' strikes

CWI news in brief


 

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