‘WORKERS RISING UP!’ – ATUA National Secretary tells conference

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A section of the audience applauding at yesterday’s News Line-ATUA Conference in central London
A section of the audience applauding at yesterday’s News Line-ATUA Conference in central London

‘WE NEED a general strike to bring the government down and go forward to a workers government and socialism.’

This is what All Trades Union Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire told the 150 delegates at the News Line-ATUA Conference in London yesterday.

He said: ‘When the leader of the second biggest union in the country announces the biggest strike in 100 years, you know that something has changed dramatically.

‘The working class is on the move, despite the trade union leaders.’

He continued: ‘All over Europe and north Africa, workers are rising up.

‘The reason Greece has exploded is the European Central Bank is demanding it pays 100 billion euros immediately.

‘That’s why there are hundreds of thousands of Greek workers on the streets defying the police. It’s a revolutionary situation.’

He went on to warn that the British banks are heavily exposed to the Greek debt.

‘Four of the British banks are among the shakiest in the world.

‘Britain is just one step behind Greece.

‘To keep the system going, capitalism is prepared to pauperise the working class,’ he added, citing pay cuts, benefit cuts and mass unemployment and the privatisation of the NHS.

He said: ‘The trade union leaders have been forced to call a one-day strike.

‘What emerged today is Ed Balls, the Labour shadow chancellor, said the strike was wrong and it should be called off.

‘What he is saying will resonate with the trade union leaders. They don’t want the strike.

‘What they are running a mile from is you cannot change the mind of the government, you can only bring it down.

‘This fills them and the Labour leaders with dread.

‘They fear that bringing down this government will lead to a workers government and socialism.’

He stressed: ‘The general strike poses the issue of power.’

He added: ‘The TUC betrayed the 1926 General Strike because it posed taking power.

‘We need a new leadership in the unions. The present leaders will not take the fight to the end because of their reformist politics.

‘The Welfare State and the NHS cannot be defended by reformism, it can only be defended by revolution.’

Wiltshire concluded: ‘The working class are prepared to fight, the issue is leadership.

‘We need a revolutionary leadership. It has to be built urgently.’

Michelin Mason of the Alliance for Inclusive Education, who is disabled herself, said: ‘I want to speak on behalf of all the people on the edge of society who are struggling to get by.

‘People have fought for many years to have dignity in their lives.

‘Many disabled people have struggled to get benefits so we can get out of institutions.

‘All these gains are being eroded or attacked.’

She added: ‘I’ve never seen the disabled community so fearful as now.’

Mason added: ‘All the gains we made are being threatened by the Green Paper coming out.

‘The battle for inclusion is the battle for what we believe in.’

Mr K Jana, from the British Tamils Forum, told the Conference: ‘I represent the community which is the victim of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and racism.

‘We have suffered so many times because of political stupidity.

‘During the civil war 40,000 civilians were killed and 140,000 have been disappeared.

‘Many are still held in military prisons and the government continues its genocidal agenda.

‘Capitalist policies of the government are making the people pay dear.’

He said: ‘The rich are becoming richer, the poor are becoming poorer.

‘Only the struggle by the trade unions can steer this country on a different road.

‘We support all those who fight for social justice.’

Young Socialists National Secretary Joshua Ogunleye declared: ‘We are living in a revolutionary time.

‘Young people want to go forward.

‘In Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Spain, there’s a refusal to be pushed back.

‘Youth are refusing to have their future taken away from them.’

He added: ‘The revolution is here too.’

He said that ‘Next week, London Met students are demonstrating because 70 per cent of courses are being cut.

‘This government wants young people to work for nothing, calling it work experience. That’s an insult.

‘Young people across the world are leading this fight and are insisting this system must go.

‘Young people will bring out the mass of workers.

‘We need to build a leadership to mobilise the working class to smash the government.’

• Full report tomorrow