TORIES PREPARE SUMMER WAR – Organising tens of thousands of strike breakers

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Masses of students marching on parliament last December were joined by trade unionists who backed their fight against tuition fees. Now the government is planning a showdown with the trade unions in the summer
Masses of students marching on parliament last December were joined by trade unionists who backed their fight against tuition fees. Now the government is planning a showdown with the trade unions in the summer

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has been overseeing ‘war games’ in preparation for a General Strike this summer.

Following orders from the Cabinet Office a special unit has been war-gaming in great detail, in preparation for launching strike-breaking actions at prisons, schools, hospitals, railway stations, bus depots and energy facilities later this year.

The ‘war plan’ involves using thousands of agency workers to act as strike breakers to keep taxes coming in and the Tubes and buses running.

All government departments have been instructed to make contingency plans to deal with strikes and these plans have been forwarded to the Cabinet Office.

Ministers have concluded that some unions would be prepared to ‘compromise’ with the government, but have concluded that the RMT and PCS might not be able to.

The Cabinet Office is involved in monitoring trade unionists at their places of work.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has responded to the Tory-led coalition’s preparations.

He said: ‘Public sector workers will be aghast to hear that the Cabinet Office is spending time, effort and resources working out how to frustrate possible industrial action in the public sector, rather than focussing on how to avoid it in the first place.

‘Instead of “war-gaming” how best to break strikes, government should concentrate on reaching agreement on how best to move forward on key issues such as pensions and public service reform.

‘Public sector workers worried about their jobs, facing a two-year pay freeze and proposed changes in pensions arrangements that will reduce their take-home pay even further, will be appalled that government hawks seem more up for “war-war” than “jaw-jaw”.’

An NUT spokeswoman told News Line that the teachers’ union endorsed Barber’s statement.

A PCS spokesman told News Line: ‘It’s pretty pathetic that they are calling them war games, when it’s very serious issue of people’s livelihoods that are at stake.

‘What they should do is hold proper negotiations with us and other unions instead of stoking up anger amongst their own workforce.’

Asked by News Line if he thought that the Cabinet Office should not be allowed to set the timing of the action, but that the TUC should call an indefinite general strike from March 26, the PCS spokesman replied: ‘No, we’re discussing with other unions the best tactic to deploy.

‘And the best tactic is for any union that is affected by the cuts to coordinate campaigns and industrial action as closely as possible with other unions similarly affected.

‘It won’t be a general strike a la 1926. You know the layout of the industrial landscape as well as I do. Unions will hold their ballots in a coordinated way and so come out at the same time as a result.’

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow’s response was: ‘If Francis Maude thinks playing a glorified game of battleships is going to stave off public anger about cuts to jobs and public services while the bankers are scooping a £6bn bonus jackpot, then he needs a class A reality check.’