THE TUC met yesterday afternoon to discuss pay and pensions and the planned mass demonstration and day of action on March 26 against the Tory-led coalition cuts due in March.
Before the meeting it was made quite clear by the leaders of the unions that industrial action was very much a ‘last resort’ and that their hopes lay in the TUC demonstration becoming a show of strength that would force the coalition to change its mind.
This was not a view restricted to the right-wing of the TUC.
Mark Serwotka, leader of the main civil servants union PCS, and noted ‘left’ who has led the call for joint strike action, spelt out what he wanted.
In an interview with the BBC he stated: ‘after the protest I hope the government will sit down and change direction.’
After accepting that this was unlikely, he went on to say that industrial action was the only other option.
So, if a mass demonstration fails to change the mind of the government, then strikes will have to take place to put even more pressure on it to change is Serwotka’s logic.
Behind all the militant talk of mass protests and co-ordinated strike action lies the old reformist fantasy that if enough pressure can be exerted the government will eventually cave in.
Serwotka has already had his answer from the government and from the governor of the Bank of England.
On Tuesday night, Mervyn King spelt out in a brutal fashion that to ‘save’ capitalism the working class would have to accept continuous wage cuts and poverty levels not seen since the 1920s.
This message was starkly reinforced by both prime minister Cameron and his Tory Cabinet Minister, Francis Maude.
Cameron made it clear that the coalition would proceed with its slash-and-burn policies come what may, saying he would talk to the unions but would not be ‘bullied’ into reversing the spending cuts.
Maude repeated this by saying that, although public sector workers were not to blame for the budget deficit, they would have to pay for it in wages and jobs.
Both Cameron and Maude made reference to the fact that political strikes are illegal under the present anti-union laws, that a general strike would certainly be illegal and that if necessary the coalition would make all strikes illegal, returning Britain to the days of the Combination Acts and the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Workers now face a future where those lucky enough to have a job will be forced to work for subsistence level wages while the huge numbers of unemployed are used as a reserve army to ensure this happens.
At the same time, their children are being priced out of education, and their hospitals and services are being closed or privatised out of reach.
The working class will not stand for this future, that’s why the inevitability of a general strike-uprising is preying on the minds of the government and the TUC leadership.
For the TUC leaders the only choice is whether the working class goes down fighting heroically or, better still, is betrayed without a major battle.
Either way, they are determined that, whatever the price, capitalism must be saved and revolution avoided.
This gang of reformists are only capable of organising defeats, when what the working class demands is victory.
To win the class war, that has been declared by the coalition, leadership is vital.
What the working class requires, above all, is a general staff prepared to organise the struggle for power, and prepared to act just as ruthlessly as the ruling class to put an end to capitalism and bring in socialism.
Only the WRP and the Young Socialists are building this type of leadership. Join them today.