For a one-day public sector general strike
The ConDem government has taken a knife and plunged it deep into the living standards of millions upon millions of working and middle class people. Osborne, Cameron and Clegg – millionaires every one – have used the spending review to slash public spending to the bone.
£84 billion is to be axed between now and April 2015 in the biggest cuts seen in almost 100 years. 500,000 public sector jobs will be lost, as a minimum and at least 500,000 in the private sector will go as well.
The spending cuts are,as expected, draconian. Various Government departments are to lose 20, 25 and even 30% and more of their budgets. Civil servants will see their jobs devastated and the services that working class people rely on will disappear.
Perhaps the sickest, cruellest joke of all is the claim that “we are all in this together.” What a lie. The spending review is a declaration of war against the poor. A huge £18 billion is to be slashed from benefits. Housing benefit, social housing, Disability Living Allowance, Child Benefit and many other benefits are to be torn to pieces by a bunch of sociopaths claiming that we all need to share the pain.
Public sector workers facing years of pay restraint are now expected to pay increased pension contributions. The age that the state pension is available will rise to 66 by 2020. For a woman that means a six-year increase in the retirement age.
But for the rich, the billionaire bankers, the elite capitalists who created the economic crisis and were bailed out with billions, they get off without a scratch.
You will look in vain for any real opposition from the other establishment parties. Labour accept the need for cuts. Tory Toff Osborne could even claim that his cuts in government departments were less than those proposed by Labour in their deficit reduction plans.
In Scotland the SNP government have also said they agree with the need to cut spending, but the oppose the ConDem cuts for being “too deep and too fast”. The SNP have already stated they want a “social contract” involving years of pay restraint in the public sector in Scotland. With £4 billion to be cut from the Scottish budget in four years we need to build a mass campaign to defeat these attacks.
The most important task facing the trade union and working class movement is the need to organise a struggle against these attacks.
This starts on Saturday in Edinburgh where the Scottish trade unions are organising a national demonstration against the cuts. A demo of tens of thousands would send a powerful message to the ConDem government that these cuts will not be accepted.
Not only that but it would inspire millions more who have been fed a diet of “there is no alternative” to cuts – which has had a temporary effect. However, mass action can and will transform this mood into one of anger and a determination to fight.
But Saturday’s demo must only be the first step. As a matter of urgency the trade unions must now begin the process of preparing for strike action against the cuts. The date must be set for a coordinated one-day public sector general strike as early as possible in 2011.
This needs to be backed up by the building of mass community and trade union based alliances against the cuts at a local level.
The ConDem government can be stopped. But it is action and only action that will force the government to retreat. As the capitalist governments across Europe are finding out, particularly in France, workers will not lie down and take it without fighting back.