General election 2017: with 3 weeks to go – it’s all to fight for

17 May 2017

The Labour Party manifesto for the general election contains a series of policy pledges which have long been part of the aspirations of many of our trade unions.

It represents a clear break with Tory austerity and the austerity-lite of previous Labour leaders.

The manifesto pledges to put billions of pounds into education and the NHS. It promises to introduce a minimum wage of £10 an hour by 2020, to repeal the Trade Union Act and to scrap tuition fees.

Plans to reverse privatisation are on the agenda too—the renationalisation of Royal Mail, water and in time the railways.

Labour’s manifesto pledges to stop the attacks on benefit claimants.

It plans to pay for all this through a clampdown on tax avoidance and greater taxation of the rich.

Now is the time to choose sides. A win for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour would be a huge boost for working class people right across the country and a massive blow to May, the Tories and their rich mates.

Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) general secretary Dave Ward, in an article in The Guardian on Wednesday 17 May put it like this, “These are proposals that make me believe my children might have a better future than my generation – a sense of optimism few of us have had much reason to feel in recent years.”

“They say it’s the hope that kills you. I disagree – it’s the lack of it that proves terminal in the end.”

The scenes from Leeds this week, where thousands of people turned out to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak should give us hope—we need more of that.

It is highly offensive that, after 7 years of Tory austerity, May is trying to paint the Tories as great champions of workers’ rights. As Dave Ward puts it, “This is the country that her party has built in the past seven years: zero hours contracts, food banks, in-work poverty. Things that were the exception a decade ago have become part of normal life.”

There are three weeks to go, it’s all to fight for.

Our trade unions have to be up front and centre fighting for a vote for Corbyn, leading support for him—it’s no time for equivocation!

But whatever happens on 8 June the role the unions play will be critical. If Corbyn wins, the establishment won’t just roll over and accept it! And should Corbyn lose, the unions we be essential to leading the fight against another Tory government.

PCS union leader, Mark Serwotka, speaking at the London May Day rally said this,

“We also know that we need strong unions – we can’t just rely on the election result.”

“The more people we mobilise the more open people will be to the kind of politics Jeremy Corbyn is putting forward”

“We need to plan now for TUC-wide action to defeat that if the Tories remain in power,”

He added, “The trade union movement needs to step up its game.”

“Unions haven’t worked together in a meaningful way since the strikes of 2011. We need to see a repeat of that kind of action, coordinated across as many unions as possible. That’s the way to defeat the pay cap.”

Back the strikes and protests

In the coming weeks we also need to do everything possible to back a series of ongoing important strikes at the moment. The EIS further education strikers, the workers at the Equality and Human Rights’ Commission, the cleaners at the London School of Economics, the Argos warehouse workers, Manchester Housing workers, Manchester Metropolitain University staff, the Fujitsu strikers, the London Bridge Three dispute, and the strikes against Driver Openly Operation on the railways—all need our solidarity.

We also have to support and build the demonstrations against school funding cuts and in defence of the National Health Service.

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