TODAY’S four-hour national strike by firefighters is just the tip of a gigantic iceberg of working class hatred steadily bearing down on the leaky ship of this coalition government.
FBU members are incensed by the government’s attempt to impose a new 60 years age for retirement, knowing full well that official figures show that beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the exacting physical standards required by the service.
The government’s intention couldn’t be plainer – drive up the retirement age and sack all those who fail the physical tests and save a fortune in pensions.
This attack on firefighters and their union (FBU) is just part of the onslaught against all the conditions of public sector workers, an onslaught that is driving forward a wave of opposition with workers demanding strike action in defence of jobs and conditions.
On Friday the postal workers union, CWU, starts balloting its members for national strike action over the same issues of pay, pensions and conditions in Royal Mail.
Like the FBU, the increase in pensionable age will make life impossible for older postal workers to carry on in a physically demanding job, leaving them open to dismissal on the grounds of inefficiency.
Alongside firefighters and postal workers, teachers are embarking on a rolling campaign of one day strikes across the country with a one day national strike planned for the end of the school autumn term.
The two main teaching unions, the NUT and NASUWT, have balloted for this action over pay, conditions and attacks on pensions and received overwhelming support from the membership for action.
There can be no doubting that public sector workers, along with every other section of the working class, are not only prepared to fight this government but are eager for a real struggle.
Under these circumstances, limiting these strike actions to one-day or half-day strikes turns them into nothing more than protests designed to put pressure on the government to change its mind.
There is no chance that the government will be persuaded to return to the ‘negotiating table’ and reach any compromise on these issues.
The huge economic crisis of capitalism dictates that for the bankers and bosses to survive the whole burden of the banking collapse, and the huge debts transferred from the banks to the nation state, must be paid for by the working class and majority of the middle class.
Pay and pensions, along with every other condition of service won by workers in the past, have to be destroyed and public services sold off to the privateers – all in order to pay off the bank debts.
At the TUC conference two weeks ago, a resolution was unanimously passed instructing the TUC to co-ordinate strike action to smash the cap on public sector pay, to oppose privatisation and to put an end to zero-hours contracts.
This must be put into practice by the TUC calling an indefinite general strike.
All the weasel words about not being able to take ‘illegal’ strike action against government policy must be dismissed with contempt.
The trade union movement was not built by obeying the anti-trade union laws, it was built under conditions of illegality and today the unions and the working class cannot be defended by leaders who are paralysed by the capitalist courts.
The demand from FBU members on strike today, along with postal workers, teachers and every public sector worker, must be that their union leaders call an immediate all-out strike and demand that the TUC leadership calls out every union in an indefinite general strike to bring down this government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
Those leaders who refuse to lead this fight must be removed and replaced by a new, revolutionary leadership prepared to wage this struggle.
Only the WRP is building this leadership and we urge every worker to join today.