Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 21 Nov 2011

21 Nov 2011

If everything goes according to plan, November 30th should see the biggest national strike since the "Winter of Discontent" in the late 1970s.

The government's last-ditch bid to stop the strike with so-called "concessions", was a flop. Despite the hype, it was exposed for what it really was - a stupid attempt to split workers' ranks, by offering a better deal to those within 10 years of retirement. But workers dashed Osborne's hopes by refusing to fall for this: the ballot results which came out after his offer gave an even larger majority for strike action than before!

At the time of writing, over 2 million public sector union members are being called out for a 24-hr strike, while many others not in a union, are likely to seize the chance to voice their anger, by joining the strike or refusing to cross picket lines.

Facing the same attacks

Yes, public sector workers have every reason to be angry. First, because of the ConDems' lie that their pensions are "unaffordable to the taxpayer". Never mind the fact that most of these pensions are not paid for by "the taxpayer", but by workers' contributions, which, instead of going into their own retirement pots, are used to pay for current pensions! Never mind either, that so many pensions are very low, because wages are so low!

But it's not only these attacks on pensions that public sector workers are facing. Their frozen wages have been eroded by inflation, while they have been constantly subjected to "restructuring", the sole purpose of which is to "cut costs" - in other words, "cut jobs".

In fact, over the past year alone, over 100,000 public sector jobs have been cut! Not only does this mean that services such as public libraries, advice centres, etc., have disappeared. It also means really "unaffordable" - and drastic - staff shortages in vital organisations like the NHS, the Fire Service, education, etc.

But aren't all these attacks similar, if not the same, as those faced by all workers, public or private? First, because we're all paying for the service cuts. It is our libraries which are being closed and our local hospitals which are being run down, shut, or turned into profit spinners for the private health industry's shareholders!

But beyond that, private employers have long been attacking pensions, closing down final salary schemes to new entrants - and finally pushing all workers into expensive schemes which pay peanuts after retirement. And these attacks are gathering pace today in the bigger companies where pension schemes had been unaffected so far.

Likewise, more and more private companies are no longer satisfied with lower-than-inflation wage increases - they now want to cut wages, pure and simple. At the same time, they cut their wage bills by cutting the number of workers and increasing the workload of those who remain.

Confronting the profit sharks

More than ever before, public and private sector workers have the same interests. Our immediate interest today, is to join forces in order to stop the attacks of the bosses and their men in government.

But we also have another task ahead of us - sorting out this mad profit system! Because if the working class, the only class which produces all the wealth in this society and has no interest in allowing private profit to rule the economy, doesn't take this task upon itself, no-one else will.

We just cannot afford a system in which a few thousand very rich bankers, shareholders and speculators, have the power to force whole countries into bankruptcy. Nor can we afford a system in which the reins of government are left in the hands of men like Blair or Cameron - trustees of the City, whose only function is to enforce the wishes of the same very rich capitalists.

Private companies pay record dividends to their shareholders and record pay to their directors. Should we accept more job and wage cuts? Osborne offers Northern Rock to Branson at a fraction of the price paid by the taxpayer 3 years ago. Should we allow public sector services, jobs and pensions to be cut, under the pretext of making "savings" that Osborne will use to line the pockets of the Bransons of this world?

No, none of this is acceptable and it is high time the working class put a stop to the organised looting of the economy by the capitalist class, by taking control of its operation at every level.

November 30th must be a step in that direction. Not all workers have been called out, despite the fact that we all have the same reasons to strike: union leaders wouldn't hear of it, for fear of upsetting their boss- and politician-"partners". Yet the louder the voice of the working class, the more likely the impact - and the more confidence workers will gain in their own strength to change society.