AT THEIR annual conference last Saturday the NUT (National Union of Teachers) passed a resolution committing the union to a strike ballot over attacks by the government on public sector workers’ pension rights.
That was not all, however, in a further motion on the coalition’s savage attacks on public services the demand was raised for a 24-hour general strike by public sector workers in defence of education and all other services.
Nor was the NUT alone in demanding strike action to defend jobs, pensions and the entire existence of the Welfare State.
At their conference, the ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) passed a resolution calling for a strike ballot over the changes to teacher pensions which will see them paying an extra £100 a month in pension provisions and require them to work until the age of 68.
Even the traditionally moderate NASUWT passed a motion calling for the leadership to mount a campaign, up to and including industrial action, to ensure a ‘national system of state education’.
What is clear is that teachers who, along with every other worker in the public sector, are in the frontline of the Tory-led coalition’s attack, and they are not prepared to sit back and passively accept that their pay, jobs, pensions and the entire gain of the Welfare State be smashed in order that the banks continue to be propped up.
The demand for ‘co-ordinated strike action’, in other words a general strike, amongst public sector workers is a demand that is being taken up and pushed throughout the working class and middle class who face a future of poverty as the price for keeping capitalism going.
In the coming weeks, as the effects of the savage spending cuts imposed by this government come to be felt in terms of hospital closures and massive job losses along with pay cuts, this is a demand that will dominate the trade union movement.
But it is necessary to issue a strong warning at this point.
It is clear that the leaders of the trade unions, who are facing increasing calls for a general strike from their membership, are consciously attempting to portray the 24-hour general strike into nothing more than a bigger, more militant protest designed to pressurise the government into drawing back from its attacks.
The danger of this position was shown in the statement by the NUT general secretary, Christine Blower, who spoke of the cuts being ‘ideologically driven’, rather than a life-or-death crisis for capitalism that can only survive if it dumps the entire crash of its economy on the backs of the working class and middle class.
Some on the ‘left’ of the union leadership see a one-day general strike as providing pressure that will cause the coalition to collapse and open the door for a return by a Labour government, ignoring the fact that they too support the destruction of pensions, wages and Welfare State, the only point of disagreement with the coalition being on how fast the cuts have to be made.
The issue for the working class couldn’t be clearer, one-day general strikes, while a start, are not enough.
What this situation requires is an all out, indefinite general strike that has as its aim bringing this government down!
Bringing it down not to pave the way for a return of a Labour government committed to the survival of capitalism, but to replacing it with a workers government that will go forward to socialism.
This revolutionary struggle is bursting out as these conferences have demonstrated, but they require a revolutionary leadership to take them to victory.
This means building the WRP. Join us today.