Front page article from issue 5 of the Leveller, newspaper of Organise!, October-December 2010 issue.
The working class across Europe are facing the worst attacks on our standard of living, jobs and services for decades. In September Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson confirmed that the cuts to be announced in October will total £2 billion. Job losses are “inevitable” and services will be hammered.
Ordinary people, employed and unemployed are expected to pay and pay again for the latest of capitalism’s economic crises. Many are threatened with worse terms and conditions, job losses, alongside devastating cuts in public services, health and education. The political parties at Stormont and Westminster tell us that these cuts are inevitable and that we will all have to suffer to sort out the economy. But that’s balls. Politicians and the wealthy at the helm of capitalism benefited with huge profits before this crisis and are using it as an excuse to attack the working class. Politicians and the wealthy should foot the bill for the crisis, if they want to make savings they could start by axing the Executive at Stormont, axing spending on their overseas adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, or by reclaiming the bailouts they made to the banks.
The exact level of cuts will be confirmed on October 20th when the government unveil their Comprehensive Spending Review.
There is however an alternative and that alternative lies with the working class and our ability as a class to oppose these attacks. There can be no mistake that these cuts, along with the new taxes currently being dreamt up by our political ‘representative’, amount to all out class warfare. We need to be organised and willing to use all the weapons at our disposal in this struggle. These cuts can be defeated but it will not be an easy task. Real opposition needs to be built.
In Belfast and Derry, NIC-ICTU’s lunchtime protests on Wednesday 29th September are the height of opposition so far. In other parts of Europe workers have forced their unions to declare general strikes. Greece has seen wave after wave of unrest and strike action for months while in Spain the anarcho-syndicalist CNT is participating in the September 29 general strike while noting the dangerous possibility that the state-sponsored unions who are calling the strike may call if off if asked to "negotiate".
The ICTU unions in the north want to forge links with the very political parties who claim see “no alternative” to the cuts. At the rally on the 29th (see report on pg 3) Unison’s Patricia McKeown repeated calls for these same politicians to stand with NIC-ICTU against the cuts proving that they are not up to the job of building effective opposition. Nor are the myriad small left-wing parties.
The truth is that only the working class organised through a new, aggressive, and revolutionary union movement can have any hope of successfully defeating these attacks. We can grind the whole economy to a standstill and hit the politicians and bosses where it hurts – in their pockets. Only organising a general strike across the north, the rest of the UK and in the south will defeat the cuts and we can only rely on ourselves as a class to achieve that.
It is a tall order, in Ireland it seems that Organise! and the IWU are among the few organisations calling for a general strike, even the rest of the so-called revolutionary left are demanding only that a ‘day of action’ be built for. The task facing us is more fundamental, it is the task of building a worker controlled and revolutionary union movement that realises the only lasting victory that can be wrested from capitalism is its defeat. Only such a movement can guarantee an end to cut backs and attacks and replace this existing rotten society with one based on need not greed and true equality for all.