18th October - onto the streets, for decent wages!

15 October 2014

Saturday 18th October will see the first national mobilisation organised by the TUC in two years - since the last anti-cuts march on 20th October 2012!

This time, the protest is over wages. And yes, it's high time we took to the streets to say we've had enough of seeing our wages going down the drain. All the more so, when the arrogant rich parade their wealth as if, for them, there was and is, no economic crisis.

In fact company directors increased their wealth by 21% over the past year alone - and by 278% over the past 14 years! CEOs of top companies, who do nothing useful for society, now "earn" 120 times more than their own full-time employees, who produce their wealth for them!

Why should workers tolerate such a situation? This is why we should all take the opportunity of this Saturday's march to say loud and clear that enough is enough. Everything should be done to ensure that this protest is a success, but also that it is followed up, as soon as possible, by other initiatives - which could then mark the beginning of a fightback, to regain the ground lost since the beginning of the crisis.

Co-ordinated action?

But who will organise this fightback? The strikes organised by union leaders for the public sector this week, show how little we can expect from them.

They waited no less than 3 months before organising a follow-up to the July 10th public sector strikes. As if Osborne has ever shown the slightest intention to concede on the wage freeze he imposed on the public sector - let alone to compensate workers for their losses since 2010!

But today, when it has finally organised strike action, the union leadership has gone out of its way to minimise its impact and prevent strikers from measuring their real strength! While a million and a half workers have been called out, they are all striking at different times and on different days!

So, UNISON members in the NHS (who were left out on July 10th) struck this Monday 13th, but only for 4 hours, between 7am and 11am! Over the following 4 days they are only meant to "take action" by taking their breaks! And not even all NHS workers were called out at the same time. For instance, radiographers will hold a 4-hr strike on 20th October!

Local council workers and FE lecturers were also called out, but only on Tuesday, for 24 hours. And civil servants are meant to be on strike this Wednesday, also for 24 hours. But teachers won't be participating, because they are still being balloted!

Union leaders call this "co-ordinated" action! But it is more like disjointed action!

For a general, effective fightback!

Of course, this unco-ordinated disorganisation of public sector workers' action has a logic of its own. The last thing union leaders want, is to allow workers to realise that they have the collective strength to force this government to back down.

The same logic has informed the organising of this Saturday's national demonstration. The fact that the TUC waited for 2 years to call such a protest wasn't because workers had no urgent demands. Nor was it because workers were not prepared to take to the streets. No, it was simply that the TUC did not wish to provide the working class with such an opportunity. As to low wages, these have been a pressing issue for most workers for years, so why wait so long?

What is more, the TUC's demands are remarkably timid - just like those of the public sector union leaders. They would be satisfied if bosses "volunteered" to pay the so-called "living wage". But, at £8.80/hr in London and £7.65 outside, this "living wage" is still far from enough to make a decent living - especially for those in part-time and casual jobs.

But then the TUC's belated interest in wages and its tame demands just reflect the fact that the only perspective it has to offer, is to vote Labour in 2015. It's no coincidence that Miliband's election programme focuses on the fall in living standards and the promise that bosses who volunteer to pay the "living wage" will get a subsidy, paid out of our taxes!

Once again, the TUC leadership is acting as Labour's election agent. And it is definitely more concerned with providing an election platform for Miliband, than with organising a fight for wages.

Of course, everything must be done to make sure that strikes and protests are well-supported. But we need to strike and march with our eyes wide open, without relying on the TUC to build on our mobilisation: nothing will come out of it unless we ensure, ourselves, that it is followed up with more action, bringing together all our collective forces, truly co-ordinated across all sections, from the private as well as the public sector!