THE STRIKE wave sweeping across Britain has a revolutionary content.
Since the capitalist crisis first burst into the open with the banking collapse of 2008 the capitalist class have used austerity cuts to pay the cost of bailing out the banks. In Britain, this has meant a full scale war by successive governments on the living standards and gains of workers.
In the public sector, which employs 5.4 million, workers have suffered successive pay freezes on wages and now a cap of 1% on pay increases. The average pay for public sector employees like nurses, teachers and firefighters will drop by more than £3,000 a year by 2020 as a result of this cap.
Already their pay has fallen in real terms by more than £1,000 a year since 2010 when the Tories implemented austerity. Inflation is already officially 1.6% and is set to increase dramatically as the pound continues to collapse driving up the price of basic essentials like food, housing, energy and transport.
In the private sector, the use of zero-hours contracts has shot up by over 20% last year with an estimated one million in low paid jobs, a figure that is rising all the time as these contracts become a permanent and growing feature of decaying British capitalism.
Unable to live with their wages cut to below poverty levels, their jobs destroyed along with all the gains of the welfare state, the working class is on the move and refusing to see its lives ripped apart to keep the bosses and bankers in luxury.
Workers are not standing for this and fighting with the utmost determination against a capitalist system that can only survive by imposing poverty, homelessness and starvation on the working class and young people.
This determination can be seen in the strikes of BA cabin crew who this week called a further 6 day walkout in their fight against poverty level pay rates from a company that made record profits last year of £2.4 billion while offering its workers a derisory 6 pence increase on their hourly flying rate.
Mass strikes on Southern rail by guards are against the drive by the company, backed by the Tories, to smash staffing levels even at the expense of passenger safety, while tube workers joined in earlier this month over staff cuts and a 25% pay cut for new staff.
From transport workers to post office workers, through to the cleaners at King’s College London fighting pay cuts and speed ups demanded by the private contractor who run the service, whole sections of the working class organised in trade unions are joining the strike wave.
If the working class is in the mood for fighting, the same cannot be said for the leadership of the TUC. They have done nothing to co-ordinate support for any of these struggles, restricting themselves to appeals to the Tories to ‘help’ workers. Their intervention in the rail dispute has been to convene a meeting between the drivers union, ASLEF, and rail management, a meeting from which the train guards union (RMT) was deliberately excluded.
This blatant attempt to split the unions comes at a time when every worker in all these disputes is demanding united action as the only way to defeat the employers and the government who are driving austerity. This is the role of the TUC, to attempt to split the mass movement that is developing at breakneck speed and is making demands that can only be realised through a revolutionary struggle to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers government and socialism in Britain.
That is why our All Trade Union Alliance (ATUA) conference on Saturday February 11 is so vital in the struggle to plan and organise the defence of the working class through the building of a new revolutionary leadership within the trade unions that will lead a general strike to bring down the Tories and advance to a workers government and socialism.
We call on every trade union branch to send delegations to the conference to discuss and plan for this immediate struggle.