Call A General Strike Now!

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THE demand for a general strike to bring down the government has been driven by the working class onto the immediate agenda of the TUC, and it is having great difficulty in getting rid of it.

A document prepared by Unite, the biggest union in the country with 1.4 million members, for consideration by the TUC General Council at its next meeting on 23rd April, calls a general strike ‘desirable’ and sets out the case for the TUC to call an ‘explicitly political strike’ against the government’s  austerity drive.

They go on to say: ‘It would be a landmark in our movement’s recovery of its morale, strength and capacity to play a leading part in a society crying out for credible and honourable leadership.’

The leaders of the second largest union, Unison, have indicated their support, albeit with grave reservations. A spokeswoman for Unison said: ‘A general strike – in principle yes, we would support that, provided there was a legitimate trade dispute and it was legal.’

This grudging support for a general strike has been forced from the leadership of the unions because of the enormous tide of anger from their members and the huge pressure for a fight against this government and its policy of making the working class, the unemployed and the poor pay for the collapse of the capitalist banking system.

The working class has had enough of protest marches that achieve absolutely nothing, and are demanding a real fight through the mobilisation of the full strength of the movement to bring down this hated coalition government.

It is this rising tide of anger and hatred that has forced a section of the trade union bureaucracy to raise the case for the political general strike, although they are careful to restrict it to a 24-hour action and try and portray it as a more militant form of pressure on the government to change course.

Even the threat of a 24-hour general strike has driven the Tories and the Labour Party leadership into a fearful frenzy with the bourgeois press reporting Miliband as being severely ‘embarrassed’, and a Labour Party spokesman insisting: ‘There is no consensus for a general strike in the trade union movement. Strikes should always be a last resort and we are not in favour of a general strike.’

As for the Tories, ministers are reported as being ‘furious’ at the threat of general strike action – terrified out of their minds more likely.

Nothing frightens the ruling class more than seeing workers exercise their enormous strength through the organisation of the political general strike, which poses directly the question of power and is but one step away from insurrection.

As for the trade union leadership, they are also trembling, fearful of unleashing revolutionary developments that will be completely outside their control.

They are caught in a contradiction. If they do not respond to the overwhelming demand for all-out action coming from their members then they lose all credibility and run the risk of being ousted.

If they do, then these timid reformists will become enemies of the state, and be threatened with jail under the anti-union laws.

However, the working class is once again proving to be stronger than the bureaucracy, and some kind of action to begin a class showdown is being forced on them.

In this, they believe that they are following the path blazed in 1926 when the TUC General Council was forced to call the 1926 general strike and then betrayed it after nine days, when it was still growing.

The working class, especially its leadership, must be conscious of this contradiction and get ready to resolve it. It must demand of its leaders that they either lead this fight, and call an all-out indefinite general strike to bring down this coalition government to bring in a workers government and socialism, or else resign and make way for those who are in the fight to win it.

At the same time, it must build up the revolutionary leadership of the Workers Revolutionary Party, so as to be ready to seize the political leadership of the working class, in order to complete the struggle when the reformist leaders run away, as they did in 1926.

This is the critical situation that is fast approaching. Come to the News Line-North East London Council of Action Conference this Saturday to discuss it.