Britain: Trade unionists lobby for 24-hour general strike

The government has declared war on ordinary people with a brutal onslaught of cuts to our jobs and services.

On Tuesday 11th December, 100 trade unionists joined the National Shop Stewards’ Network (NSSN) to lobby outside the Trade Union Congress (TUC) headquarters, Congress House. Many more sent messages of support. There’s a short video of the event below.

This was organised by the NSSN (and this time also called by UtR) to build support for a 24-hour general strike and put pressure on the TUC’s general council, meeting inside, to call one.

At the same time, in Knowsley over 100 Unison local government workers met and unanimously backed a motion calling for a 24-hour general strike.

Back in September, the TUC congress overwhelmingly backed a motion mandating the leadership to look into the practicalities of organising general strike action across the private and public sectors.

Today’s protest, attended by workplace reps, leadingtrade unionists and youth and student activists, demanded that the TUC turn that resolution into action.

The lobby was addressed by a number of the trade union reps present, and PCS union president Janice Godrich also addressed it before going into Congress House for the general council meeting. The PCS will be balloting for strike action and is appealing to other unions to coordinate strike action with it.

Among the speakers, Glenn Kelly, victimised trade union activist and Bromley council (south London) staff-side rep, said: "The fightback isn’t being held back by the anti-trade union laws, but by the cowardice of the trade union leaders".

He pointed out that simply waiting for a Labour government to come in and reverse cuts isn’t an option – especially since most Labour councillors are now gleefully implementing the cuts handed down by the Con-Dem coalition.

Nancy Taaffe, a librarian made redundant in Waltham Forest (north east London) because of cuts, said the fight isn’t just about the ’here and now’, we’re fighting for the jobs and services of future generations.

Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education (YFJE) national organiser, spoke about the grim future being mapped out for young people by the government.

He pointed out that it is the duty of the trade union leadership to fight, not just for working people, but for those being shut out of education and the million young people on the dole.

He said that if the TUC leadership is not prepared to give people a lead then they "should step aside and let those people that are prepared to fight".

The lobby was wrapped up by Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network, who led the crowd in chants of: "TUC, hear us say, general strike, name the day!".

The general council in its meeting agreed to send out a survey to find out what affiliated unions think about calling a general strike.

The government has declared war on ordinary people with a brutal onslaught of cuts to our jobs and services.

In response we must use the most powerful weapon in our arsenal: a general strike.

As well as being vital for workers of all ages, it would win the support of young people struggling against attacks on their rights and living standards.

This would be the first step on the way to building the kind of mass movement we need to roll back the tide of austerity.

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