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Public sector strike shows the fightback has begun!
Step up united action to end pay freeze
Teachers on strike on 24 April 2008 in Lewisham, photo Martin Powell-Davies
Last week hundreds of thousands of teachers, civil servants and college lecturers struck a blow for everyone who has had their living standards attacked in recent years.
Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party
Their coordinated strike action against below-inflation pay rises needs to be the beginning of a fightback which should link up all six million public-sector workers.
Low-paid workers in the private sector will also be drawing lessons from this. All workers are suffering from massive rises in the cost of living - gas and electricity, food, council tax, water, housing... the list goes on and on!
Jane Aitchison addresses the Leeds rally of the April 24th 2008 strikes
Whilst the real wages of the low paid have been eroded, the rich have continued to have a bonanza. The Sunday Times 'Rich List 2008' shows that the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in Britain has more than quadrupled since New Labour came to power. They had £99 billion in 1997 and now they have £412 billion! Even in the months since Gordon Brown took over, their wealth has gone up 15%.
Philip Beresford, who compiles the list, summed it up when he said: "The eleven years of Labour government have been absolutely fantastic for the super-rich. Having a friendly Labour government has almost been better than having a Tory one."
Many of those on the list are the infamous 'non-domiciles': billionaires who move here from abroad because loopholes in British tax laws mean they can get away with paying no tax.
Also on the list are British citizens who live in tax havens abroad for nine months of the year and those who put their money into low tax 'offshore accounts'.
Merlin school teachers on their picket line in March 2008, photo Martin Powell-Davies
The government tells low-paid public sector workers that there is no money in the kitty. How about taxing the rich for it? But no - Brown prefers to tax the poor by doubling the 10p starting tax band!
The fact that he has been forced to promise compensation (although the details remain to be seen), shows the government can be made to retreat. It was fear of a battering at the polls that forced Brown into this partial climb-down.
We are going into a recession, and despite the fact that in the 'boom years' it was the rich who reaped the benefits, now it is ordinary people who are supposed to pay.
It is time to stand up to this! For public-sector workers the next step should be a one day public-sector general strike coordinated by all the unions.
And it is high time the unions stopped funding New Labour, a party of the super-rich, and build a new party of the working class.
In The Socialist 30 April 2008:
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