Workers pressure mounting but the TUC still won’t call a general strike!!

TUC leaders at the June 18th march to Parliament – demanding better from the Tories – workers want to kick the government out with a general strike.

WORKERS pressure is mounting on the TUC to call a general strike to bring down the Tories at its Annual Congress in Brighton next month (see advert this page).

However, the UK’s two largest trade unions, Unite and Unison, said yesterday that they are seeking to ‘co-ordinate strike action’, but that the disputes are separate, and that there is no combined effort to shift the TUC into calling a general strike.

Both have submitted motions ahead of the Trade Union Congress, which begins on Sunday 11th September, calling for strikes to be ‘synchronised’ in order to have more impact.

These do not call for a general strike.

Unite’s motion urges the TUC to ‘facilitate and encourage industrial coordination’ between unions so that workers can ‘most effectively harness their union power to win’.

Unison’s motion calls for a special working group to be set up to organise co-ordinated action over pay and terms.

A Unison spokesman said: ‘It makes sense for unions to ensure any industrial action is as effective and meaningful as possible.’

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said the ‘the mood of country’ has changed and criticised Labour for not showing stronger support for strikes, adding that Sir Keir Starmer needs to ‘get a spine’.

‘Trade unions are emerging as the only people in the corner of workers,’ she said. ‘I feel that Parliament has been captured by the business lobby.’

Graham said that British workers are at breaking point, with anger over the cost of living crisis reaching a level not seen since the poll tax riots of the 1990s.

She said soaring inflation is driving a wave of strike action that will extend from a ‘summer of discontent into the winter’.

Speaking from the picket line outside the port of Felixstowe, where thousands of dock workers are striking over pay this week, she compared the situation to the poll tax uprising that brought down the Tory Margaret Thatcher government three decades ago.

‘I actually think there is a moment where people could rise to doing exactly the same thing again,’ Graham said.

‘We are going to be looking at escalating that action,’ she said.

She, however, did not say that Unite would be pressing for a general strike to be called by the TUC at the TUC Congress on September 12.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch also spoke in support of ‘coordinated strikes’, saying: ‘I think the British public are fed up of being ripped off by this government and by corporate Britain, which have seen companies like BP and British Gas making massive profits while people are struggling to make a living.’

Appearing on BBC News yesterday afternoon, Kevin Rowan, TUC Head of Public Services, said: ‘Workers are trying very hard to negotiate with employers, including the government, to try and get a fair pay deal and unfortunately employers and this government have failed to listen to them.

‘We are now in a position where workers are saying that they will put up with that no more and they are starting to gather collectively to force the employers and the government to give them fair pay.

‘It’s absolutely right that they do that and at the TUC we will be supporting those unions and those members taking those actions.’

He went on: ‘As the TUC we are supporting workers who are standing up for a fair pay deal and we will continue to do so.’

He continued: ‘We have seen an upturn in industrial action across the economy in the private sector and in the public sector. Clearly people are very well aware of the strikes on the rail and Royal Mail and BT, industrial actions that have taken place in the last month or so.

‘In the period ahead we are looking at workers across the public sector taking industrial action or balloting for industrial action.

‘We’ve got everything from nurses to teachers, to civil servants to local government workers, because they are all suffering under a really bad state of affairs at the moment.

‘The government says on the one hand that they value public sector workers but they show that by giving them year-on-year worse pay and conditions.

‘Workers right across the economy have decided that they are going to push back on that.’

The BBC reporter said: ‘Some unions are saying there should be a general strike. What are your thoughts on that?’

Rowan replied: ‘It’s not up to general secretaries of unions to take decisions for people to take industrial action.

‘We operate in a very restrictive legislative framework. Members have to decide to take industrial action. We have to do so across certain thresholds that the government has established.

‘If those members do decide to take industrial action then we will support them, but it’s for the members to decide.’

There will be a mass lobby of the TUC on September 12 to demand that the TUC calls a general strike to bring down the Tories. All trade unionists should attend it, to see that the TUC do their duty, and stop hiding!