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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 June 2011

Huge votes in defence of pensions, jobs and services

Strike 30 June

For a 24 hour public sector general strike now! Photo by Suzanne Beishon

For a 24 hour public sector general strike now! Photo by Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

Civil servants, teachers and lecturers balloted to strike on 30 June against the Con-Dems' attacks on public sector pensions and public services. The National Union of Teachers has voted 92% in favour of the action, while the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has voted 83% in favour of its first ever strike. London underground drivers in the RMT union are also due to take strike action on that day against victimisation of trade union activists.
Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union, spoke in a personal capacity at the National Shop Stewards Network conference on 11 June. Here is an extract from his speech.

Someone once said the Tories never talk about class war because they're usually too busy practising it. This crisis, caused by nearly 30 years of a high octane deregulated capitalism, fuelled by an explosion of credit and reckless speculation, has become the excuse for an all-out assault on nearly all the major social gains won by working-class people in the post-war years.

Perhaps the most callous elements of the cuts are reflected in the abolition of EMA student payments, the Sure Start children centre closures, the cuts in benefits to the disabled.

This is a government that is working to dilute 2,000 separate pieces of legislation, even the equality act that only came on the statute book in April. Everything is up for grabs.

But trade unions remain the major obstacle to the Tory-Liberal plans. It's why big business politicians introduced the anti-union laws. It's why the media attacks trade unions. It's why the employers pick out our activists and reps. It's why Vince Cable - supposed to be a restraining influence on the Tories - is already talking about even more limits on the right to strike.

This is a government that is fearful of the trade union movement. There is a massive and growing anger against the bailout to the bankers and the financial institutions and the attempt to make the working class pay the price for a crisis not of our making. The evidence was shown in the student protests, shown in the magnificent turnout on 26 March, shown by the action that we plan to take on 30 June, as the first wave of coordinated action.

If you're a worker in any other part of the public sector you will be asking the question: 'why are we not taking action with our brothers and sisters in the civil service and education institutions?'

The PCS will continue to press the Trades Union Congress for coordinated strike action and to build direct support with individual unions. We expect to be joined by millions of public sector workers in the autumn in the second wave of the sustained strike action that will be needed to challenge this government.

This is an enormous opportunity to reach out to the ranks of the most exploited sections of the workforce, the millions who aren't in unions, the millions who are unorganised. PCS has found that when the union is prepared to speak and act for its membership, that's when people are prepared to join, that's when they're prepared to get involved, that's when people are prepared to come forward and become reps in their own trade union.

We can start to challenge the dictatorship of the international markets, which are dictating the policy of individual governments. We can show that international worker's solidarity is not some utopian idea, it is the most powerful antidote to the neoliberal consensus, pursued by European governments, by mainstream political parties, by the Murdoch press, and by international bond and equity markets. We can raise the question of what sort of society we want to live in and start to pose a real socialist alternative.

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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.

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.
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In The Socialist 15 June 2011:


Fighting the cuts

Strike 30 June

Workers turn up the heat in Southampton

Customs & Revenue staff strike against attendance management policy

No cuts to English language classes!

Hands off our pensions!

Carmarthenshire council day club closure lobby


NHS news & campaigning

Tories make token changes - save the NHS

Con-Dem health plans ignore patients and staff

NHS "listening events" - Flip chart 'democracy'


National Shop Stewards Network

NSSN conference - serious and inspiring preparation for battles to come


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fighting anti-cuts meeting in Scotland hears socialist alternative

Child poverty increasing under the Con-Dems

Say no to government's slave labour programme

Winterbourne View - fight privatisation, end abuses

London 'Slutwalk' protest: Fight sexism, discrimination and cuts

News in brief

Dewsbury rejects racist EDL

To hell with for-profit education


Socialist Party feature

The growing housing scandal


Socialist Party workplace news

Tube drivers prepare to strike

Sheffield university strikers more determined

Unison conference - No to pension attacks

Unison NEC elections - left retakes lost ground


International socialist news and analysis

Austerity and anger in Greece


 

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Related links:

Strike:

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triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

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Pensions:

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triangle14 more days of university strikes over pensions, pay and conditions

Teachers:

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London underground:

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National Shop Stewards Network:

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Chris Baugh:

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