Over half a million workers were part of today’s strike wave, the length and breadth of Britain and across a range of sectors and industries. This show of strength and determination by our labour movement and the response of working people has been inspirational and galvanising.
We face a ruling class offensive. Front and centre are the attacks on jobs, pay and conditions for millions of workers by bosses in both the public and private sectors.
The ruling class are trying to cut wages in real terms to shore up and increase the rate of profit. The Tories are leading the charge and trying to set an example in the public sector and backing private sector bosses to the hilt to do the same. We’re told workers need to take the hit and accept ‘wage restraint’. Wage increases would just drive further inflation they say. This is demonstrably untrue. Wages have been decreasing in real terms for decades and inflation is skyrocketing. Current wage rises remain stagnant and still inflation is at historic highs.
The labour movement must be clear that these attacks on pay and conditions are not caused by the war in Ukraine or by some unintelligible force known only as ‘inflation’ but by the ruling class need to increase the rate of profit by suppressing the value of pay at the expense of working people. It is a class struggle.
The labour movement must continue the battle for real pay rises. The money is there. It’s in the profits of the monopolies and big business. It is private profit that should be ‘restrained’, taxed and lowered to pay both workers in the public and private sectors what we deserve.
The scale of the current industrial disputes and strike action, the resolve demonstrated by workers, the increasing number of disputes and the scale of public support is clearly a cause of great concern for Britain’s ruling class and their Tory Party.
The central pillar of the ruling class response is their efforts to crush and grind down workers currently on the frontline and cow other unions by frustrating negotiations, incessant propaganda and through the Tories “tough new laws” restricting the right to strikes.
The new anti-union laws current being pursued by the Tories build on decades of anti-union laws and measures already in place, some of the most restrictive in Europe, including the legalisation of the use of agency staff to scab just this summer. The so-called ‘minimum service levels’ legislation introduced last month and being pushed through Parliament just now is the thin end of the wedge of this ruling class attack on the right to strike and other hard work democratic rights and civil liberties.
This latest attack and the other threats demonstrate how seriously the ruling class and their government are taking the current wave of strike action and increasing industrial militancy.
We must ensure that this latest and even more brazen attempt to restrict the right to strike is a red line for the labour movement. Only a mass movement across Britain, including all major trade unions, can successfully resist this anti-democratic attack. We must fight to ensure that the current situation is developed into a proactive campaign for trade union freedom, fighting not just to defeat this latest attack but to roll back all existing anti-union laws.
The response of Britain’s Communists is clear:
- Join your trade union and be active in your workplace and support your local picket lines.
- The industrial battles taking place must be lauded, supported and broadened – the fight against stagnant wages offers the labour movement today restate its relevance to a new generation, build on rising trade union membership numbers and class consciousness across Britain.
- The labour movement must fight for a class understanding of the cost of profits crisis and how this relates to the current industrial battles.
- We must galvanise resistance to any further Tory anti-strike laws – as well as other attacks on civil liberties – and develop this into movement for trade union freedom.
- Fight for real measures to help working people battle spiralling costs for food, energy and essentials remains paramount – and the labour movement must place itself at the centre of this struggle.
- The current industrial battles and resistance to the Tory government can and must be the springboard for a fight to remove the Tories from power and win a progressive government that can roll back attacks on working people and the labour movement.
- We cannot allow the prospect of a right-wing labour government to placate social democratic elements in the labour movement to undermine rising militancy. We must continue to call out the right wing nature of the current labour leadership.
- Join the Marxist-Leninist Party of Britain’s labour movement, the Communist Party and the YCL and play your part in the struggle for Socialism.
Young Communist League
1 February 2023