All the public sector trade unions must unite for action to bring down the Brown government and replace it with a workers government and socialism.
That was the message from All Trades Unions Alliance national secretary Dave Wiltshire to a hundred trade unionists and youth at a News Line/ATUA rally in central London yesterday.
Wiltshire said the collapse of share prices and the sub-prime mortgage market would affect millions of people: ‘Everything’s up for sale and privatisation.
‘Trade union members everywhere are up in arms.
‘Postal workers are among the lowest paid workers and are being asked to accept a huge pay cut, and lose up to 40,000 jobs and see their hours cut.
‘Royal Mail and the government have made it absolutely clear there is no room for compromise.
‘Brown has to convince his masters he can smash the unions, an absolute necessity for the capitalist class, and turn the clock back to the 19th century.’
Wiltshire warned there is a rotten leadership at the top of the trade unions that believes that the only thing the working class can do ‘is accept this system and what it has to offer’.
He called for a new leadership to be built urgently in the trade unions that will fight to bring the government down, ‘we need a public sector alliance to fight the common enemy’, he said.
‘We need to build councils of action in all areas to unite struggles because these attacks aren’t going to go away, they’re going to get worse.’
He concluded: ‘It opens up the road to bringing down this government and replacing it, not with the Tories but a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.’
CWU Counters Rep. Huw Davies said the Post Office Counters service has seen ‘decimation and privatisation’ with only 460 Crown Post Offices left compared to well over 1,000 two decades ago.
He added: ‘Part of this dispute is the privatisation of 70 Crown Offices nationwide to WH Smith.’
Counters staff also face the threat of downgrading, resulting in the loss of thousands of pounds in their pay packet.
He said there was an overwhelming vote for strike action by Counters staff, and that not only are pay and jobs under attack, ‘now they are attacking the pensions’.
Niaz Faiz, PCS GEC member at DEFRA, told the rally: ‘Like our comrades in the CWU, we are being attacked by the government.
‘Our department was the first to issue redundancies to civil servants. Since then, our colleagues the DTI were issued with redundancy notices.’
Calling for coordinated strike action across the public sector, Faiz added ‘where on earth is the TUC? There is a deep-seated anger, not only against the government but at union leaders who are not prepared to take the fight to the government.
‘That’s totally unacceptable, we must come together to defeat this Labour government.’
Hillingdon Hospital UNISON shop steward Malkiat Bilku said that during the five-year Hillingdon strike: ‘We did not compromise anything.
‘They tried to scare us. We beat them and we beat the union leaders as well. We have to fight, but we can’t win without revolutionary leadership.’
Rashid Khan, TGWU Greenford bus garage, added: ‘We have had a Labour government for how many years? What have they achieved for the working class?
‘The time has come for us to stand up, to unite. All the unions have to get together.’
Referring to the Gate Gourmet sacked workers, he said TGWU leader Tony Woodley ‘shafted the workers down the drain and sided with the management’.
Khan added that the working class is paying ‘very heavily at the moment’.
Other speakers at the rally included CWU Harrow Deputy Area Rep Richard Kassir, CWU Reps Rob Bolton and Billy Colvill, and news Line editor Paddy O’Regan.
• Second news story
$30bn in US aid for Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday announced a new $30 billion US military aid package to preserve the Zionist entity’s regional military superiority, as Washington prepared an Arab arms deal to counter Iran.
Addressing his weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said: ‘In my last meeting with the president of the United States, we agreed that the aid would stand at $30bn over the next ten years, meaning over three billion dollars a year, starting next year.
‘This is an increase of over 25 per cent in the military and defence aid of the United States to Israel.’
Olmert added: ‘Other than the increase in aid, we received an explicit and detailed commitment to guarantee Israel’s qualitative advantage over the Arab states.’
Current US defence aid to Israel stands at $2.4bn a year.
The Israeli premier told his cabinet: ‘We understand the United States’ desire to help moderate states which stand at a united front with the United States and Israel in the struggle against Iran.’
A senior Israeli government official said that under the ten-year package, the US agreed to sell the Jewish state the new generation F-35 fighter jet, advanced bombs and laser-guided missiles.
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit claimed: ‘This is not an arms race. The weaponry is constantly improving but Israel remains vigilant to ensure it possesses advanced weapons and that it keeps its edge over other states.’