Steve Ryan on the upcoming day of co-ordinated strike action by public sector trade unions, due to take place on the 30th of June.
Included below are two articles by Steve Ryan on the impending public sector strikes on June the 30th, published in the past week.
So its official, the big strike on June 30th is on. Already the excitement is palpable with Scrota all over the news, twitter and face book full of delighted civil servants, all changing their profiles to reflect J30,
The left reflects this mood, with calls to generalise the strike, throw a sickie, wild cat etc on the day
All this IS good. It WILL be the biggest strike for decades, and it IS clear it is now as predicted in previous articles pushing the big unions into action.
As such as communists we support the day and should do everything to build solidarity with it and ensure mass pickets on the day, general assemblies, stunts , sickies, walk outs wherever we can.
Equally though some sober reflection need to be given to the unfolding events, The turn out in the ballots wasn’t great , the Tories still have support in the polls, and there is a real division growing between public and private sector workers.
A few observations are needed
1) Not enough has been made of the state of the private sector in terms of pay pensions etc, The unions representing them have been criminally quiet or acquiescent, It is up to us to begin to highlight these problems and assist the forging of links with public sector workers
2) Anti cuts groups need a positive rebrand and must be federated for co ordinate action by communist. They must be re built as community solidarity organisations linking all workers, pensioners , unemployed and students
3) Something bold is needed to really challenge the state . Ideas might be mass non payment of fuel bills (look at the inflated costs, it is estimated will soon be 75% of a pensioners income )
Stunts are needed to really get over the extent of the cuts. How about filling your supermarkets trolley then calling the manager and putting say 5% back to reflect reduction in spending power. If 20 or so did this in one place it would have an effect. Make sure the press was there. Equally refusing to pay for food etc in shops as no money might have an effect!
4) The paucity and timidity of the left in the last decade or so has left self organisation weak. This needs rebuilding patiently but urgently. Networks of militants need setting up to agitate for action across work places and to set up strike committees , Every opportunity to strike or take industrial action should be vigorously pushed,
5) Propaganda must be upped to make the case for communism. Part of the problem out there is that many workers hate the condems but see no alternative. That needs building again urgently
These are ideas , there are many more. They are though urgently needeed as J30 has the power to galvanise or disenchant workers. Moreover after J30 there is a worrying lull until the autumn when further action is threatened. Moreover the anti cuts action is coming in waves, students, civil servants etc, those waves can grow or diminish, it is up to us.
Civil servants on strike: We can't let the floodgates open
Originally published on 07/06/11
Ahead of civil servants’ walkouts this week and the June 30th strike day, Steve Ryan writes on the Con-Dem offensive against the whole working class
Members of the PCS civil servants’ union throughout a number of departments are taking industrial action over a range of issues, all of which have one theme, and that is government cuts. Department for Work and Pensions and Equality and Human Rights Commission workers are to walk out over office closures, and HMRC tax workers over attacks on sick leave.
Also of course it is PCS that has been instrumental in pushing for co-ordinated action on June 30th.
Many on the left see this as something to be fully supported, and of course it is,. However the issues at stake are more complex and even more important than may at first appear.
Ostensibly the strikes etc are about the determination of the Con-Dem coalition to make the public sector pay for the recession. To a large degree this perception is true. Recent statements from ministers reveal perhaps a deeper concern. Cable threatens to ban strikes, Maude says sick pay and long-established leave concessions must go. Veiled threats have been made regarding the time given to union reps and indeed an increasing number of activist have been sacked for their union duties.
All of this has been excused as the government bringing the public sector into line with the private sector… and here of course is the key.
Public sector workers on average are not especially better off than their private sector comrades. They are though better unionised and organised , and have fiercely protected their terms and conditions, modest or not.
It is clear that aside from the cuts the aim of the Con-Dems is to take on the public sector unions à la the 1984 Miners strike. If they were to succeed then the floodgates would opened with terms and conditions for all workers stripped away.
Supporting public sector workers in their walk-out and on June 30th becomes even more important then , as a defence not just of jobs, pay etc. but of the labour movement as a whole.
Such an important task cannot be left to political parties and union bureaucrats , no matter how “left “ they seem. The history of the last three decades in particular from the miners strike on has been one of compromise and betrayal
As communists we need to ensure that the links are made between all workers, public and private. Similarly, that such links are made with communities, unemployed, students, pensioners, attacks on equality rights highlight the importance of links being made with women’s, LGBT disabled and black , Asian groups.
In short, in all communities class-based unity is needed, based on horizontal structures, strike committees, rank and file control of action. This is vital as already cracks are appearing in anti cuts groups as sectional and party political interest take over.
Finally, hard though it is, it really is time to pose the alternative of workers self management, libertarian communism and revolution not reform.
Originally published in The Commune