Marching because we can’t afford to live – unite the action!

In addition to the rail and tube strike, bus drivers, bin workers, manufacturing and more are also taking strike action.

Many thousands more are preparing to strike or demanding of their union leaders that action is taken. Trade unionists from different sectors told the Socialist why they are marching on 18 June and what they expect from their leaders.

CWU: preparing for battle

Shaun Barber, welfare officer CWU, Mount Pleasant depot (personal capacity)

The main issues that are affecting Communication Workers Union (CWU) members at Mount Pleasant depot in London are the cost-of-living crisis and the conditions of our work shift patterns.

Our union has launched a national campaign for a decent pay rise, with strike action if necessary. As part of this campaign, our branch has started sending out leaflets, talking to our members and putting out news on social media. We organised a very successful gate meeting with over 100 of our members attending.

The TUC demo is a great meeting place for unions and socialist groups and will be important in getting our voice and feelings across to the Tory government.

But we also need a political voice for the working class. The campaign for a new workers’ party is a great grassroots way of getting working-class people involved in politics and fighting back.

Local government workers struggling before the crisis

Mark Evans, Branch Secretary, Carmarthenshire County Unison and Unison Local Government Service Group Executive (personal capacity)

Many local government workers in Wales and across the UK were struggling to keep a roof over their head and pay the bills before the cost-of-living crisis hit. It was not unusual for council workers to have two, three, four or even five jobs as wages declined in value by nearly 25% since 2010.

After a decade of relentless austerity cuts to council services, it is essential now that the new leadership of Unison leads a fight against cuts and for decent pay.

We need the TUC to understand which side its bread is buttered. The demo on 18 June needs to be the first step in organising and coordinating mass industrial action for a minimum wage of £15 an hour and for pay rises above inflation. Anything less and workers and their families will continue to suffer.

We don’t need to hear how bad it is we need to hear what the TUC is going to do about it!

The demo should be about cranking up the pressure on this weak, crisis-ridden anti-working class Tory government to capitulate to our demands. But it shouldn’t stop there. We need to be rid of this Tory government.

This of course raises the issue of who replaces them. We need a new mass workers’ party with a socialist programme that acts in our interests.

NHS under enormous strain

Holly Johnston, NHS nurse

Privitisation is speeding up. Staff are leaving at a high rate. The cost-of-living crisis impacts massively on the NHS. The health of the nation is suffering.

NHS staff, like other key workers, kept this country going during the pandemic and should not have to choose between heating our homes or feeding our families.

We need to organise in the NHS to fight for fair pay and conditions, bring back outsourced workers, kick out the private profiteers and kick the Tories out. That means we need clear demands from our union leaders and a plan to mobilise for action.

NHS staff are waiting for the Pay Review Body to make their announcement. It’s a real chance for the NHS unions to fight for their members. We must vote to reject the inevitable inadequate pay offer, and then to vote to strike.

NHS staff, campaigns and unions will be marching on the 18 June to defend the NHS. However, we need to see action and strategy after from the TUC and the health unions, planning for coordinated strikes to win pay rises for all.

Civil service: Tories thank us then sack us

Marion Lloyd, PCS BEIS group president (personal capacity)

I am marching as I am sick and tired of being taken for granted by a government who treats public sector workers, and civil servants in particular, as second-class citizens.

The latest missive from Prime Minister Boris Johnson states that he believes: “The public service you provide is a great and noble calling”. He thanks us for the invaluable work we do – then tells us he’s going to cut 91,000 civil servants! What a kick in the teeth!

Society is in meltdown but workers are fighting back.  Look at what the RMT has achieved.

The trade union leaders have a responsibility. They must now draw up a plan of action, coordinated throughout the trade union movement, linking together local communities and young people. A plan of action that builds the biggest campaign of industrial action to fight back. The 18 June should be the launchpad for this. We did it in November 2011, we can do it again, but bigger and better.

We must ensure the trade union leaders do their job and stand with us – or move aside and let us get on with it!

Universities: balloting for coordinated strikes

Postgraduate UCU member

I joined the University and College Union (UCU) and its recent strikes because the situation in Higher Education could not be direr. Staff are seeing their pensions slashed and work conditions downgraded. Lecturers are increasingly overworked and casualised, while the fat cat vice-chancellors drain universities’ coffers on massive infrastructure projects instead of the bread and butter of universities: teaching and research.

Managements have gaslighted their workers, claiming the pension fund was in more dire straits than it really was. Even worse, some have taken anti-trade union action: threatening to deduct up to full pay for engaging in action short of strike.

The future of the sector is at stake. We must continue to fight resolutely, starting by building the turnout in the next ballot. For the first time in four years, university branches will be balloted on an aggregated basis.

If the 50% turnout is achieved it will be the first time in nearly a decade that every UCU branch has been out together. This would be a major development not only for our union but for the possibility of coordinated national action in the workers’ movement as a whole.

Schools: demo must be a building block for NEU action

Sheila Caffrey, NEU NEC member (personal capacity}

Media headlines have you think that teachers live in the lap of luxury, being offered an 8% pay rise.  Nothing could be further than the truth! 

The government’s own figures show the number entering teaching is lower than in every year but one since 2012. Almost a third leave within five years. What a damning indictment!

Parents don’t want a revolving door of staff either.  They want their local schools to have dedicated, qualified staff who stay, and who know the communities where they work.

With real-terms pay cuts of 2% for experienced teachers, pay certainly isn’t keeping up with 11% inflation, or doing anything to counter the decade of real-terms cuts we’ve already had. 

That’s why education workers are marching on 18 June. And this demo must be a building block to action. 

The National Education Union is balloting teachers on pay in schools, further education and sixth forms in the autumn.  The leaders aren’t confident that teachers will vote ‘yes’, or that support staff are also desperate to fight on pay.  We need to show them wrong!