TUC congress votes to consider ‘practicalities’ of general strike

11 September 2012

The TUC congress has voted overhelmingly to support a resolution committing it to explore the ‘practicalities’ of a general strike against austerity.

The motion was proposed by the prison officers’ POA union and has gathered increased support since the TUC general council split down the middle on the question at its meeting on the Thursday before the congress.

Backing from the Unison and GMB delegations showed mounting support for the resolution at the weekend.

In the debate, the giant Unite union also threw its weight behind the motion, which urges that the practicalities of a general strike be considered to take forward the campaign against austerity after rhe TUC demo on 20 October.

Unite’s speaker in favour of the resolution, Steve Turner, noted:

The government are raging class war against us.
This is a serious debate.

PCS delegate John McInally said:

Let’s have no nonsense about difficulties or legalities of industrial action. A 24-hour general strike would shift the balance of power.

The resolution was carried with a four to one vote in favour.

If TUC leaders follow up on the mandate from the resolution, we will see the first general strike in Britain since 1926 – a huge blow to the Tories’ austerity plans.

The text of the POA resolution, as published by the TUC, read:

Congress welcomes the Future that Works demonstration on 20 October 2012 and recognises this as being an effective platform and foundation to resist the damaging austerity measures that are damaging the very fabric of our society in Great Britain.

Further, Congress recognises that after the demonstration there needs to be a strong voice from all TUC affiliated unions to protect public and private sector workers, the unemployed, our children, the elderly and all those in our society who are vulnerable.

Congress accepts that the trade union movement must continue leading from the front against this uncaring government with a coalition of resistance taking coordinated action where possible with far reaching campaigns including the consideration and practicalities of a general strike.

Unite the Resistance is set to bring together more than 1,000 trade unionists and activists at its conference on 17 November, to discuss how to ensure the fight against austerity is stepped up after the 20 October demo. Tickets can be booked online now.


  1. paul smith said:

    This is fantastic news. We now need to turn words into action – can UtR please provide a list of which unions voted for and which unions voted against the motion?

    11 September 2012 at 5:56pm
  2. tash – website editor said:

    Paul – TUC doesn’t record who votes which way except for card votes, their press office says, so I haven’t got a confirmed list.

    But based on those delegations we know about and those who spoke, there is a bit of unconfirmed info.

    Votes for include: POA, RMT, PCS, Unite, Unison, GMB, NUT, UCATT and CWU

    Votes against include: Usdaw, Prospect, BALPA, ATL and NASUWT

    11 September 2012 at 6:33pm
  3. tash said:

    add the lecturers’ UCU to those in favour

    Also in favour: the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union – confirmed by union president Ian Hodson

    FBU voted in favour too.

    11 September 2012 at 6:53pm
  4. Jim Larkin said:

    The Greek working class has had many one day general strikes in recent years. I have heard opinions expressed in videos by Greek workers that one day general strikes have proved to be simply ineffective. They were saying in effect that only indefinite general strikes are effective. I agree with that. However, let us be under no illusions that an indefinite general strike amounts to a declaration of (class) war on the employers, banks and the government by the working class. The government, the senior civil servants in Whitehall, the top brass of the armed forces, the judiciary along with the banks, the employers and the upper layers of the petty bourgeoisie will definitely see it as such. Such a declaration of class war should not be entered into lightly or unless the working class and its trades union leaders are prepared to see it through to the end. It is nothing less than a struggle for power–to determine which class will be the master of society. In response to the 1926 general strike, the government led by Churchill organised a mass movement of scabs and strike breakers to undermine the effectiveness of the strike. Today’s ruling circles are probably already preparing such a movement. They maybe “the few” and we “the many” but do not underestimate the ability of the ruling elite to mobilise confused backward layers of the working class against the advanced layers and to confuse wide lawyers of the petty bourgeoisie (small business people and self employed professionals) sufficiently to draw them into a strike breaking movement. The French revolutionary leader St Just said that (I paraphrase) “those who only half make a revolution dig their own graves”. And Trotsky similarly said: Woe betide a workers movement that lacks the determination to see a revolution through to the end. The consequences of failure are terrible. The danger is that some of our trades union leaders will precisely lack this determination or worse actively sabotage the strike out of subservience to or fear of the wrath of the ruling plutocracy. That is exactly what happened in 1926. The trades unions ranks must prepare for this possibility and strengthen its own independent strike committees, merge them locally into city wide joint strike committees and nationally into a national workers congress of strike committees that sets up its own independent council of strike committees that can act independently of the trade union bureaucracy if necessary. I urge strikers to read or re-read Trotsky’s article: “Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay”: http://marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/tu.htm

    11 September 2012 at 6:59pm
  5. Mick said:

    An indefinite General Strike is the only way forward as it poses the question who’s in charge. The Capitalist class have been waging war from the beginning so there is only the need for the working class to rally its troops to respond.

    26 May 2015 at 7:52am

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