On November 30, more than 2 million public sector workers struck against government plans to make them pay more, and work longer, for reduced pensions. It was the biggest strike for decades. The Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party seized upon the stoppage as proof of the revival of the trade unions as organs of class struggle.
But within weeks, the Trades Union Congress Public Sector Liaison Group announced it was suspending any further action and had accepted the government’s “Heads of Agreement” proposals for public sector pension schemes.
The pseudo-left now claim that the Trades Union Congress can be pressured to reverse its betrayal. But all the unions are complicit in the scheme-specific approach to negotiations that has facilitated the TUC’s divide and rule policy. Their actions have given the green light to the government to step up its assault on pensions across the board, as seen at Unilever.
From the outset, the Socialist Equality Party has explained that the trade unions are bitterly opposed to any genuine struggle against the attacks on pensions or any other aspect of the government’s austerity programme.
What is needed is to mobilise the collective strength of the working class in a general strike. New rank-and-file organisations must be built—independent of the trade union and labour bureaucracy—to unite all sections of the working class in a common fight to bring down the government.
This is a political struggle that must proceed from the recognition that capitalism has failed. It is not a question of exchanging one set of capitalist politicians with another, but of replacing the system in its entirety through the formation of a workers’ government. The billions given over to the banks and the super-rich must be returned immediately and used to meet the basic needs of the population as part of the reorganisation of all aspects of social and economic life along socialist lines.
We invite workers, students, youth and retirees to attend our meetings to discuss the lessons of this crucial experience. The first meeting is scheduled for Leeds.
Sunday, February 19, 3 p.m.
2 Lower Briggate
Thursday, February 23, 7 p.m.
Room 407 Boyd Orr Building
Wednesday, March 7, 7.30 p.m.
88 Stokes Croft,
Wednesday, March 7, 7.30 pm
St Luke’s Neighbourhood Centre
Meeting Room (off main hall)
Devonshire Street/Guide Post Road junction
(entrance on Guide Post Road)
Thursday 15 March, 7.30 pm
The Fly in the Loaf Pub
35 Hardman Street