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Tories would struggle if workers fought back with strikes


George Osborne’s latest statement won’t ease the pain of millions of working class people targeted by the Tories’ austerity attacks.

He will hope we’ll all be distracted by the the media fawning over the new royal foetus. He must also be relieved he is not facing waves of mass strikes.

But despite their swagger the Tories are not as confident as they look. They were near to a major crisis when the hacking scandal exposed a web of corruption involving media moguls, politicians and the police.

It went all the way to David Cameron’s doorstep and could have brought them down. They were only saved by Lord Leveson’s refusal to pursue them.

Their prized coalition is now openly split. The Liberal Democrats are paying a heavy price for holding up the Tories. And every new economic plan spectacularly fails to solve the crisis.

This is a government that would not be able to stand up to sustained resistance. So why aren’t they facing millions of workers on strike like we have seen in Greece, Spain or Portugal?

Confident

Workers in Britain are not different to workers in Europe. They have shown they are prepared to fight. Workers felt confident when they were part of the big public sector strikes.

But confidence can’t be just bottled and then opened at a future date when convenient for the unions’ leaderships.

Struggle builds union organisation. Many unions in the last 18 months have seen an increase in the number of reps and stewards. But the level of organisation at the grassroots is still not strong enough to lead independently when the union leaders won’t.

There is a growing acceptance of the idea that if we are to beat the Tories we still need to fight for mass coordinated strikes. In fact the need for a general strike is widely acknowledged.

The danger is that without the ability to deliver a radical demand, it can become a block to building the resistance. The call for coordinated action mustn’t become an excuse for not calling sectional strikes or walkouts by single unions.

This would mean the whole trade union movement only moving at the pace of the slowest or most conservative union leaderships.

Instead we need to work with those in the union leaderships who are prepared to fight, while all the time building roots in the rank and file.

Every struggle can escalate and generalise. Whether it’s protesting outside tax-avoiding Starbucks, marching to save a hospital or striking to defend jobs, working class action can wipe the smile of Osborne’s face.


Article information

What We Think
Tue 4 Dec 2012, 18:15 GMT
Issue No. 2332
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