Friday, 24 June 2011

30 June: one week to go

With just one week to go until around three-quarters of a million public sector workers go on strike around the country (see here) and with thousands set to join picket lines and strike rallies in solidarity, the stakes on both sides are getting higher.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, who are not on strike this time around, spoke at his union's annual conference this week, saying "we stand firmly behind our brothers and sisters from PCS, UCU, NUT and ATL on 30 June... Their fight is our fight". He also told conference delegates to "prepare for action" in the autumn.

Meanwhile much of the media has joined in on the side of the government. The Sun described next week's co-ordinated strike action as a "summer of hate" while the Daily Mail parrotted the ridiculous claim about "gold-plated public sector pensions". The Guardian referred to strikes as "primeval". Even Labour's Ed Balls described trade unionists taking strike action as falling into the government's "trap".

The truth is, neither the media nor opposition politicians would even be discussing the attacks on public sector workers were it not for the threat of mass strikes.

As well as the four unions on national strike, council workers in Doncaster and Southampton and workers on London Underground will also join the day of strikes. Prison officers have also chosen that day to stage a lunch-time walkout. Around the country anti-cuts groups will join picket lines and strike rallies.

In Cornwall, preparations for the joint union rally are being finalised. Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance have organised a 'feeder march' from Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro to the union rally on Lemon Quay. The march will set off at 10:30am. There will also be groups meeting at Penzance Station at 9:20am and a coach from St. Austell. The firefighters' FBU, postal workers' CWU, general workers' GMB and council and health workers' Unison have all urged their off-duty members to show solidarity with those on strike by joining the rally in Lemon Quay. The unions and political parties are all urged to join the march with their banners to show the strength of support for those on strike and to turn it into a day of rage against the government for all their attacks on public services.

This is only the beginning. This day must be a success to keep the momentum going. But the real test for both sides will be in the autumn when many more workers are set to strike against this nasty and vindictive government. The coalition is weak and has already shown its propensity to u-turn. It is vital that we make the most of the current mood amongst the working class and forge it into a weapon with which to strike at the heart of this cutters' coalition.

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