Support the rail, post, and benefits strikes!

Submitted by Anon on 28 February, 2002 - 11:10

With rail strikes crippling train services in the south-east and set to spread, a strike brewing in Consignia (the new name for the postal service) and national strikes by benefits workers, people have been talking about a new "winter of discontent".
The name "winter of discontent" refers to strikes in 1978/9 against the last Labour government (1974-79). Elected after an incredible wave of working class militancy brought down Ted Heath's Tories, the Wilson-Callaghan government failed to deliver for workers.

The "Thatcherite" policies of massive cuts in the welfare state didn't start with Thatcher - but with the 74-9 Labour government, from 1976 onwards, under pressure from the IMF. The result was public sector strikes on a massive scale.

Then, as now, workers were trying to defend the level of public services and their pay and conditions. Workers are uniquely placed in society to play this progressive role: the working class is the majority of the population and, because we make everything work, have the power to bring things to a halt and make the bosses and the government act.

The politicians and media are up in arms about the strikes. They are on the other side of the class divide in society: it's not that they think strikes are a bad tactic to defend public services and raise living standards - they actually aren't in favour of these things.

The wealth pocketed by the ruling class - the bosses - is actually made, literally, by workers: pro-capitalist politicians and journalists support this situation, and get rewarded handsomely for that support.

Anyone - regardless of their own social background - who wants a better society should look to the working class as the only agency in society that can deliver real change.

That doesn't mean that workers do is automatically right: in the 1970s, workers in Britain were incredibly militant but failed to have a real strategy to really take on the system or to try to make a real impact in politics. If the strikes we are seeing now herald a return of militancy, socialists will be fighting to make sure those mistakes are not repeated.

Workers can win a decent, nationalised rail service, keep the post public and make sure there is a decent benefits system: support the strikes!

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.