9 July 2014
As 1.4 million strike together against the Tories…
ESCALATE STRIKES TO BEAT THE TORIES
The strike on Thursday 10 July, by over 1.4 million public sector workers, can be the start of turning the tide on this rotten Tory government. Tory austerity is driving down living standards for working class people and widening the gap between rich and poor.
Britain needs a pay rise. That’s clear to every worker who has seen wages decline year on year since 2008, as the economic crisis has ground on.
The government and the employers have used the crisis mercilessly to attack our conditions, pay and pensions.
We’ve seen the rise and rise of zero hour contracts and our public services still face devastating cuts.
The Tories want to create a world where people compete for low paid work, where foodbanks become a fact of life and where we live in fear of payday crooks
A mood to resist
The 10 July strike shows that the mood to resist is growing. This year we’ve seen the return of major strikes with a walkout by teachers across England and Wales on 26 March.
There’s been a rash of lengthy local strikes. Many have won. The fight by Unison members at Care UK in Doncaster and the all-out strike by UCU members against new contracts at Lambeth College in south London have been inspirational and produced huge levels of solidarity.
The strike at the Ritzy Cinema in London and at Hovis in Wigan have shown once again that it’s possible to organise anywhere if the will exists, no matter what managements do to marginalise unions or make workers feel more precarious.
We’ve seen big campaigns on the streets for benefits justice, against the bedroom tax and by disabled people’s rights campaigners like DPAC.
Tens of thousands marched against austerity on the People’s Assembly protest in London on 21 June (despite being largely ignored by the media)
Strikes like 10 July are a rallying point for everyone who wants to stop Cameron and his government driving down living standards, and for everyone who wants to bin austerity for good.
It’s also an antidote to the divide and rule politics of UKIP. When teachers, classroom assistants, tax workers and council staff picket and march together we see that our public services are built on the labour of migrant workers.
They’re not part of the problem, they’re part of the solution!
Once again we see how women are in the front line of the resistance.
Firefighters in the FBU are now set to escalate their strikes after J10, with eight days of consecutive action beginning on 14 July.
That’s the kind of escalation we need to see in every union if we’re going to beat
We have to hit back Ed Miliband seems determined to continue austerity policies if he’s elected.
The 1 percent pay ceiling will remain and Tory spending limits will be enforced.
A Labour government won’t reverse the attacks – we have to hit back!
We all know we’ll need more than a one day strike to stop the Tories.
That’s why it’s good news that there is an open debate about more action in the autumn, including by health workers.
We’re going to need to put up a fight this autumn.
The TUC “Britain needs a pay rise” protest on 18 October is important. It needs to be enormous.
But as the PCS leader Mark Serwotka said back in 2011 “we’ve marched together but imagine if we strike together too”.
An escalation of the strikes would show the Tories that we’re serious.
We need to bring all the fights together and turn the conference motions on coordinated action and the general strike passed in recent years into reality.
But we can’t just rely on our union leaders to bring all this about.
The mass strikes against the attack on public sector pensions in 2011 were halted because some union leaders stepped back from the fight and signed up to the “heads of agreement”.
And even the best union leader is only as strong as the rank and file they represent.
We’ve got to get organised in every union – and across the unions – to escalate the campaign on the streets and with more strikes in the autumn.
Britain needs a pay rise, but Britain needs more pay strikes too.
We have to build on the 10 July strike and move towards a strategy that can
In recent months there have been a number of important victories which have shown that strikes work.
Cleaners, members of Unison at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) struck for three days and were set to strike again to win parity with in-house staff.
But outsourcing giant ISS was forced to make concessions.
The cleaners won seven days extra holiday, sick pay from day one of employment and a better company pension.
At a time when the Tories, UKIP and the right wing press are attacking migrant workers, the victory for these mainly Latin American workers is really important.
They received massive support from across the movement.
The win at SOAS shows working class unity gets results.
150 GMB members who work at Ealing Hospital won a victory after a total of eleven days of strikes, including a seven day strike.
Up to 60 people joined the lively picket lines. Just 18 months ago there were only six union members!
They were domestic, catering, porters and help desk workers employed by Compass (Medirest).
They struck for parity with NHS workers at the trust. Now they’ve won an increase in the hourly rate from £6.31 to £7.31 per hour, equating to a 16 percent increase and two additional days leave.
On top of this there will be harmonisation of pay rates across the Trust from April 2015. The GMB says this should deliver an hourly rate between £9.10 and £9.30.
Hovis bosses laid off 30 workers and replaced them with low paid agency workers at the company’s Wigan plant.
Members of the bakers’ union BFAWU, commenced a week of strike action against the move on 28 August 2013.
Up to 100 workers at a time joined protests and picket lines.
Management gave ground, giving the 24 workers on zero hours contracts permanent contracts.
A second week of strike action started on 11 September.
On Saturday 14 September. On Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 September pickets severely disrupted production. On 18 September workers agreed on further strikes.
But by 21 September bosses agreed a deal on the use of agency staff with BFAWU and workers voted to return to work Edinburgh College.
Members of the EIS at Edinburgh College faced a three-year pay freeze.
They were told a future pay rise would be conditional on giving up limits on teaching time. This could have meant lecturers working up to a 56-hour week.
The EIS branch voted for strikes by 92 percent. It called for all-out, indefinite action.
Following the first day’s strike, management offered an improved pay offer. Two more days of strikes followed.
At this point management agreed to virtually all of the strikers’ demands. Conditions have been protected and some lecturers have won a 8 percent cut in teaching workload.
Over two years, pay for most lecturers will rise by 7 percent. The lowest paid will get 22 percent more.
The branch had 453 members before the strike. It is now over 500 strong.
These disputes have proved that striking back works and if we all strike together we can win.
This government is weak – we can defeat them. But so are Labour and we need to strike to pressure them to back our fight for fair pay, decent jobs and for an end to poverty and foodbanks in this, the 6th richest country in the world.
•Unite the Resistance is holding a national conference to debate the way forward after the TUC’s ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ demonstration.
“Striking Together – Organising to win” will take place in London on Saturday 15 November. Check www.uniteresist.org for more information.
Click on images below to download our #J10 bulletin and flyer advertising our conference on 14 November