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Today’s co-ordinated public sector-wide strike action was a tremendous display of class solidarity, involving many workers who have never taken such action before. A whole generation is re-awakening to the need for strong collective union organisation in defence of jobs, pay, pensions and public services.
In a flagrant act of provocation yesterday, George Osborne both extended real terms pay cuts to public sector workers for a further two years and ripped up the basis of national collective pay bargaining. He has thrown down the gauntlet. The trade union leadership musn’t be allowed to let today’s success evaporate through inaction – they must set a date for further walkouts and keep up the pressure. We must step up our opposition up another gear.
So, too, every trade unionist should take the argument out to the general public in the shape of their family and friends, teachers should make every effort to explain to parents why they are taking this stand, just as service providers must explain to the wider community. It’s not just a matter of making the case about pensions, as crucial an issue as that is. But it must be broader – about defending the interests of the vast majority in the face of an attack on living standards scarcely without precedent. We need to persuade wider sections of society that the fight of the trade unions is their fight too. (MC)