Keir Morrison guest column: Why we should support the strike

UNISON, Unite and GMB unions are balloting members over strike action after rejecting an offer of a one per cent pay rise from the Government

UNISON, Unite and GMB unions are balloting members over strike action after rejecting an offer of a one per cent pay rise from the Government

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Whilst our Tory MP is all wrapped up with his phoney in/out Euro referendum (after the Euro elections are over) and preaching to himself about an argument that doesn’t exist about Hucknall moving into the city catchment area, upto 2 million workers, across the nation, could down tools on Thursday July 10th.

So who’s going on strike and why?

NUT (Teachers) PCS (Civil Servants) FBU (Firefighters) GMB, UNITE & UNISON (all public sector & general) trade unions. This will also include staff working in local schools, Ashfield District Council & Notts County Council.

The reason?

The longest fall in wages for generations; pay packets for many public sector workers down by a fifth in real terms; and, despite the coalition’s deceitful mantra that work is the route out of poverty, most of Britain’s poor are consigned to low-wage jobs.

This is aided by an increasingly casualized workforce where hire and fire is the order of the day, a rapid rise of exploitative zero hours contracts and attacks on workers’ rights such as facility time, paid leave and maternity & paternity rights. Yes that’s right, the coalition is turning the clocks back. If this government had its way we’d all be turning up on the market place in the morning doffing our caps to the master in hope of a days toil.

Throw in DWP sanctioned, workfare slave labour schemes, in work benefit cuts, attack on pensions, rise in retirement age and upto 35% cuts to HSE, compromising workers safety – of course unions will ballot for industrial action.

In the vast majority of this week’s establishment media outlets you will hear cries of ‘Union barons grind country to a halt’ and ‘we’ll outlaw industrial action that receives poor ballot turn out’s’

What you won’t hear is that trade unions are the most democratic and transparent organisations in the county with over 6.5 million members nationwide, where the ‘Union barons’ Tories refer to are actually democratically elected general secretaries.

You will also struggle to find that whilst Tories are quick to jump on low union ballot turnouts, the Tory party never won an overall majority to govern the country. The likes of Boris Johnson (narrowly elected as London mayor on a 38% turnout) and the police & crime commissioner elections – a role championed by this government – only averaged 15% turnouts.

During times of industrial action it’s always tempting to have a pop at workers seemingly ‘having a day off’. But stop and think about who and what caused the crash. Maybe it was the casino style predatory capitalist system? Maybe it was the spivs and speculators? The gamblers the corrupt bankers in the city? – all of which caused the crash. Not one of them has been locked up. We even bailed them out with our taxpayers cash (how nice of us) and now they want to punish us with austerity?

Be under no illusion as to where the problem lies – it’s this privileged, pro establishment, anti-working class government.

As an elected Ashfield District Councillor and trade unionist I will be proud to support the industrial action taking place on Thursday and hope you will too.