All out for an extended working class “holiday”!!

 All out for an extended working class “holiday”!!

Yes, it most definitely is a new “Winter of Discontent”!  And it’s felt right across every section of the working class.  For obvious reasons: the rise in the cost of living amounts to at least double the inflation rate - which is already around 15%!

    So, will there be a general strike?  Or more to the point, why isn’t there one? Firefighters, ambulance paramedics, nurses, postal and post office workers, railway workers, bus and train drivers, cleaners, security staff, civil servants and university and college staff already have a “legal” mandate to strike.  And teachers and junior doctors will get one very soon...

    Yet union leaders not only seem incapable of organising a coordinated strike, but are ensuring that any fraternisation between strikers remains token.  Like at the odd rally, usually organised by far-left groups.

    It’s worth noting - since nobody finds this outrageous any more - that secondary or sympathy strikes, e.g., strikes “for” nurses or other health/social care workers, by other workers, were not even considered.  Sure, they were banned by Thatcher’s Tory government in 1990.  Yet if ever there was a law worth breaking, it’s this law against “sympathy”!

    For now, union leaders still hope to be invited into polite negotiations, despite the bosses’ refusal to budge on pay rises unless “reforms” - that is, lethal job cuts and cuts in pensions and conditions - are agreed.  And, what is more, despite the attacks against union activists during strikes and during the intervals between strikes!

    Of course, not many among the ranks of active workers have illusions in the capacity of union leaders to organise a militant battle which can win for all workers, outright.  To imagine that, one would have to be born yesterday! As for RMT leader Mick Lynch, by his own admission, he’s no revolutionary.

    However, right now it’s not revolutionaries who’re needed - although revolution, for sure, needs to be the ultimate aim if the profit system is to be ended for good.  No, all that would be needed is to use maximum collective force to push back until the bosses - who’re making loads of money in this crisis - give in.  But the initiative for this will not come from the union HQs; it will need to come from the picket-lines.  And the sooner the better.

    If the bosses and their government are faced with the determination of over a million workers, it’s a foregone conclusion that this utterly degenerate bunch of money-grubbers will collapse.  So bring it on!

 Only one way to stop the rot that the profit system creates

Public infrastructure is crumbling.  On the railways, for instance, it’s not strikes which are the problem for passengers.  It’s years of neglect, zero investment and systematic job cuts, while the private train operators (still!) maximise their profits!

    And these profits have been protected, thanks to the ongoing management fee contract with train operators which has been in place since Covid.  The RMT has exposed how operators made £600m last year, and how, since 2010, their shareholders have received nearly £5bn in dividend payouts!

    When it comes to the National Health Service, of course, its collapse is public knowledge.  The 18-hour waits in A&E, the lack of beds and the absence of a GP “service”.  And worst of all, the shortage of 130,000 workers, due mostly to Brexit.

    The government says it’s putting in a few billion extra investment, but former Brexit Minister, now Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, is refusing to increase NHS staff pay, claiming there’s no money - at least not for them...

    Yet there’s money for the profit sector: over 6% of spending on NHS treatment ends up in the hands of private contractors, and that alone is worth more than £1bn a year: a figure that’s steadily rising!

    And while profits rise, things fall apart.  So too on the railways.  New figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that the number of cancelled train services has more than doubled since 2015.  In 2022, 1 in 26 of all trains were cancelled. This is equivalent to 860 trains a day across the country!  Most of these cancellations – up to 76% on Avanti West Coast (the worst train company for cancellations) – were because of train faults.  In other words maintenance not done.  And why?  Because maintenance jobs are cut and outsourced!

    In the North of England, rail infrastructure is Victorian.  The Mayor of North of Tyne explained that when northern mayors tried to attend a meeting with the Transport Secretary to discuss train cancellations, they couldn’t get there, because their train was cancelled...

    Analogue signalling, over 50 years old, remains on parts of northern railways and there are average speeds of just 35mph on some lines.  And yet Network Rail, responsible for renewing track and signals wants more cuts to its workforce as a precondition for discussing pay with the unions!

    There is an answer to this.  Only one answer, in fact.  Remove profit entirely from the equation and place all public services back into public hands under workers’ control.  It’s that simple.