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Posted on 19 December 2019 at 10:43 GMT

For the right to strike! RMT & NSSN lobby parliament. 19.12.19, photo JB

For the right to strike! RMT & NSSN lobby parliament. 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

Defend the right to strike!

RMT and NSSN lobby parliament

Socialist Party reporters

The Queen's Speech in parliament on Thursday 19 December included an outrageous attack by Boris Johnson's new government on the right to strike.

Johnson intends to introduce minimum service levels for the running of transport during industrial action - an attempt to stop transport workers from having the right to withdraw their labour.

Trade union members from the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union (RMT) demonstrated outside parliament in central London as part of this start of a fightback against this attack, alongside the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), Socialist Party members and others.

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) had moved its planned 1pm demonstration to instead start at 12.30pm, to coincide with the one called by the RMT, in order to have maximum unity and turnout.

John McDonnell addressing the lobby, 19.12.19, photo JB

John McDonnell addressing the lobby, 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

The protest was joined by John McDonnell and others in the Labour parliamentary campaign group of left MPs, a number of whom addressed the protest, including John McDonnell, Ian Mearns, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon. Their message was the need to rapidly move on from the general election result, to turn to resisting the attacks of Johnson's Tory government.

photo JB

photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

RMT speakers included general secretary Mick Cash and assistant general secretary Steve Hedley. Mick Cash made it clear that the protest was just the beginning of the fight.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon speaking, 19.12.19, photo JB

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon speaking, 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

Speaking for the NSSN were its chair Rob Williams (who chaired the protest rally) and secretary Linda Taaffe.

Rob Williams stressed that no union should be left isolated and that joint action by the trade unions is needed, including a Saturday demonstration in London next year which should be called by the TUC.

Linda echoed this and pointed to the incredible mass NHS strike that took place in Northern Ireland the day before, as proof of the willingness of workers to take action if they are given a lead. Johnson's plan is "a strike-breakers' charter" and must be defeated, she said.

For the right to strike! RMT & NSSN lobby parliament. 19.12.19, photo JB

For the right to strike! RMT & NSSN lobby parliament. 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

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RMT banner. 19.12.19, photo JB

RMT banner. 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

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RMT & NSSN lobby parliament. 19.12.19, photo JB

RMT & NSSN lobby parliament. 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

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This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 December 2019 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.
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  • 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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