A fighting Public Sector Alliance to defend wages and jobs

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THE Communication Workers Union yesterday announced its latest plans for strike action after the first national strike for a decade last week, which was described by leaders of the CWU as the best supported strike ever in the Royal Mail.

Postal workers face wage cuts, casualisation, privatisation and an attempt to smash their union.

They are fighting both the Royal Mail and the Brown government behind it.

Meanwhile UNISON, the largest health workers’ union, said it was entering ‘last-ditch’ talks next week with the government’s new Health Secretary Alan Johnson.

Health workers also face pay cuts and job losses from a Brown government determined to continue from where Blair left off and complete the privatisation of the NHS and Royal Mail.

UNISON said its members faced a real terms pay cut after being given an annual pay award effectively worth two per cent – less than half the rise in the cost of living.

UNISON added that if Johnson would not meet its demands there would be an industrial action ballot at the end of July and action in September.

TGWU National Organiser Peter Allenson, representing health workers, also warned the government: ‘the derisory offer from the government is in reality a pay cut and must be improved on in these talks.

‘We may well be in the eleventh hour before strike ballots are held.’

And the GMB’s Sharon Holder, national organiser for public services, added that the GMB’s position is ‘to ballot for industrial action in the summer if we do not have a positive and improved response to our pay claim.’

In fact, support is growing by the minute for coordinated national strike action by all public sector workers – from teachers to civil servants, hospital staff to postal workers and council workers.

This is because the spiralling cost of living, coupled with rising interest rates, are pauperising millions of people.

Blair made no secret of his desire to not only ‘think the unthinkable’ but to do the ‘unthinkable’ and smash the Welfare State. Brown is in complete solidarity with him, but has taken office in a situation where Blair has already been forced to quit office in the face of the determined resistance of the working class.

The Brown government is gambling on the weakness of the present leadership in the trade unions, who called a one-day general strike under Blair over public sector pensions, only to negotiate a deal with the government the next day, accepting the end of final salary pensions and the introduction of a two-tier pension scheme for existing and new workers.

The Blair-Brown government was able to privatise NHS logistics because the UNISON leadership ran away from the fight just at the point where it had thrashed the Labour leaders at the Labour Party conference last autumn.

This encouraged Blair to go for the complete privatisation of the NHS in his last days in office.

A mass closure programme of the NHS is now underway to shut up to 100 district general hospitals and A&E departments at the same time as the government has launched its attack to privatise the Royal Mail.

Trade union members must demand the formation of a public sector alliance and that the whole public sector takes part in indefinite coordinated strike action to defend wages and jobs.

This alliance must be driven forward by the local trade union branches forming councils of action made up of all trade unions and all community organisations.

These must organise public sector strike actions and mass demonstrations in the localities to prepare the way for the organisation of a general strike.

Such an action must set out to defeat the government and the employers. This means bringing down the Brown government and bringing in a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and the bankers and carry out socialist policies.

Central to this struggle is the building of a new leadership inside the trade unions that will not betray the struggle.

This means rapidly building up the revolutionary leadership of the WRP inside the trade unions.

Only by getting rid of the crisis-ridden capitalist system through a socialist revolution can the bosses and bankers be prevented from dismantling the Welfare State.

We urge all our readers to attend the News Line-All Trades Union Alliance conference for organising Councils of Action and a fighting public sector alliance at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, in central London on Sunday July 29 at 2-30pm.