Not a general election but a general strike now!

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TODAY’S lobby of Parliament called by the TUC represents a complete avoidance of the real fight to the finish between the working class and its unions against a Tory government and bosses determined to dump the economic crisis squarely on the backs of workers and their families.

The slogan of the lobby is ‘Let’s tell our MPs: we DEMAND better – general election NOW’ – but no amount of demands, even in capital letters, is going to force the Tories to call a general election.

Instead, the Tory government, despite all its weakness and fragility, is pushing ahead to implement the entire raft of laws designed to make striking illegal, with the prospect of trade unions being dragged before the courts and fined up to a million pounds for breaking the mountain of anti-union legislation the Tories have brought in.

The TUC are living in a dream world if they think that a lobby of Parliament and organising meetings with individual MPs to tell them about ‘the reality of the cost-of-living crisis’ and begging them to ‘protect the right to strike and get wages rising’ will stop the Tories and the bosses from waging the class war necessary for this bankrupt capitalist system to survive.

This was demonstrated with absolute clarity this week when the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on Sunday called off six planned strike days by Royal Mail workers following a solicitor’s letter from Royal Mail threatening them with legal action over alleged breaches in procedures for calling the action.

Despite this, the CWU leadership prepared to enter into further negotiations over pay, conditions and the future of the postal service, with general secretary Dave Ward even appearing to welcome the legal challenge saying: ‘We recognise the deep frustration felt by many members over this decision … the current focus of the coming days will be negotiations that can hopefully achieve a sensible deal to end this dispute.’ He added that ‘it has been hard to focus on the negotiations when you’re also out on strike. Sometimes that isn’t always helpful.’

Calling off the planned strikes certainly didn’t help postal workers.

The reward for the CWU leadership backing down was for Royal Mail management to immediately come up with a final pay offer of a miserable 7% pay increase – spread over two years – accompanied by the imposition of worse terms for Sunday working and start times along with worse terms for new entrants.

Royal Mail bosses further threatened to slash up to 10,000 jobs if the strikes continue over pay, conditions and the plans by the bosses to smash up the Royal Mail and turn it into just another delivery service competing with the likes of Amazon.

The CWU reacted with fury at having their olive branch of seeking a negotiated settlement brutally stuffed down their throats, warning the public that ‘Royal Mail have just declared war on your postie.’

It’s a bit late in the day to realise that the era of peaceful negotiated compromises with Royal Mail or any industry or public service has long gone.

Now it’s class war to the finish.

With British capitalism sinking like a stone, drowning in debt and gripped by an unprecedented inflationary spiral, the imperative is to destroy the trade unions using the full power of the capitalist state, its courts and police in an attempt to hold back the massive strike wave of workers determined not to be driven back to the poverty of the 19th century when trade unions were illegal and workers treated as little more than slaves by the bosses.

The trade union movement in Britain was built through decades of struggle against the courts, police and army of the capitalist state.

Today this massive gain won in struggle can only be defended not through appeals to Parliament but through the mobilisation of the strength of the working class in a general strike to bring down this weak Tory government and bring in a workers’ government.

A workers’ government will nationalise the major industries, services and banks placing them under the management of the working class and building a socialist planned economy.

The call for an immediate general election must be rejected as a cowardly evasion of the real demand – a general strike now!