Scotland: Workers’ unite and strike for pay rises!

CWU members in Royal Mail have voted massively in favour of strike action (Photo: Scotland No.2 branch CWU)

This summer has seen the scandal-ridden Boris Johnson regime collapse. A Tory party leadership contest is seeing the long Tory civil continue to boil over.

However, the Tory fratricide is over what weapons to use to brutally attack the working class and make us pay for the capitalist cost of living crisis.

That’s why we need to build a mass working-class movement to get all the Tories out. But potentially the ruling class’ most powerful foe has remerged.

The June RMT national rail strike of 50,000 workers shut down the whole network. It also changed the game – lifting the confidence of workers and showing the power of trade union organisation.

Google searches – just a small indication – for “join a trade union” increased in the days following the rail strike by 200%.

Further action by the transport union, the RMT, is planned for late July and August, as is action by Aslef (train drivers’ union) members who are drivers at eight train companies.

Millions of working-class households agree that wages need to go up and profits need to come down. And no wonder! The bosses are floating on a sea of profits and bonuses.

According to the Unite trade union, FTSE 350 profit margins are up 73% since the pandemic. The very same bosses say workers must accept 2-5% increases when inflation is nearly 12% while energy prices rise by 100%.

Pay and an onslaught on workers’ hard-won terms and conditions are driving the growing strike wave. Added to the national rail disputes, Unite alone has over 300 in the private and public sectors.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has successfully balloted British Telecom workers and has two major ballots in the postal service which will also lead to massive majorities for strike action.

Bus workers, HGV drivers, engineers, construction workers, oil rig workers, and airport workers, to name a few, have taken action and already won pay increases.

Even Police Scotland is in an “unprecedented dispute” over pay.

The brutality of the P&O ferries mass sackings and the rampant attempts at fire and rehire in all sectors show sustained determined industrial action will be needed.

Rage

The rage across society is building as is evident in the ‘go slow’ or ‘don’t pay’ fuel protests on the roads and forecourts, as is the desperation, with a third of people in Scotland cutting back on food shopping according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

It won’t only be the Tories and the bosses who face class anger.  The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scottish Green government, and Scottish local councils run by them and Labour, can also face walkouts of tens of thousands of council workers, civil servants, the NHS and teachers over the coming weeks and months.

This is a consequence of the passing on of over a decade of Tory austerity.

Rather than defy a Tory government with no authority and refuse to implement cuts, the SNP leaders are on the other side of picket lines from workers.

Scottish government finance minister Kate Forbes made that crystal clear in her Thatcherite spending review that pledged tens of thousands of public sector job cuts.

Humza Yousaf, the health secretary, attacked NHS trade union pay demands as “unaffordable”.

Nor will the SNP be prepared to lead a mass movement for Scottish independence (‘indyref2’). The SNP is relying instead on the courts or a future general election to apply ‘democratic pressure’ on Westminster. But that will not be enough to break the logjam.

The trade union movement – including the Scottish TUC and the entire TUC – must use its growing authority to bring workers’ disputes together in the public and private sectors.

A one-day general strike could topple the Tories completely. If necessary the most fighting unions already balloting should take a lead and co-ordinate strike action now.

As the class struggle escalates, workers cannot fight the bosses and their hireling politician’s with only one industrial fist; we need political representation in the shape of a new mass workers’ party based on the organised trade unions.

As a step towards this, Socialist Party Scotland, through the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, is preparing a target of 100 UK general election candidates when a general election is called.

Socialism

It’s time to get organised, to join a trade union, become a trade union rep or steward but also to join the socialists! To fight for a socialist society to replace rotten capitalism rigged to make the bosses more and more wealthy as we get poorer!

Socialism would mean putting the major parts of the economy under working-class control and planning democratically for our needs.

 

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