Hundreds of thousands of workers march in Britain's largest strike in a decade
"There is a rising tide of rage at the attack on wages, conditions, pensions and services and at a government that simultaneously blocks negotiations in some areas whilst conducting sham negotiations in others. They should come to the table or clear out of the way."
All images via Twitter
The day after millions of workers mobilized in France, Britain saw at least 500,000 workers hit the streets Wednesday, February 1 to protest pay, working conditions and attacks on the right to strike by the Conservative government in what was the largest strike in the country in a decade.
Around half a million workers have today taken strike action for decent pay across rail, schools, central government and higher education.
It was also a day of action organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to defend the right to strike, following the passage of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill on Monday at Third Reading.
As the Communist Party of Britain wrote on Facebook "TWO FACES OF BRITAIN - one is the greed, waste and profit-mongering of the tax dodging class. The other is the humour, compassion, solidarity and gritty determination of our working class on display at picket lines across the land."
European unions gave their support to the mobilization with the European Federation of Journalists releasing a statement in conjunction with others:
Wage increases are key for working people to maintain a decent standard of living through the cost-of-living crisis. Yet, following years of stagnating wages, the UK government is now attempting to push through legislation to curtail strikes for legitimate pay demands. European trade union federations (ETUFs), including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), regret the UK government’s conflictual approach and support Britain’s striking workers and their trade unions.
The UK government claims it is aligning its laws with those of other Western European countries. The reality is that British strike laws are already amongst the most restrictive of comparable countries and the new legislation will enable further attacks on working people’s conditions.
Collective bargaining, including the right to strike, is the main tool with which working people can claim fairer salaries and improve their conditions. It is the norm in all of the countries the UK government has claimed it is aiming to replicate.
Instead of attempting to subdue the collective demands of working people, the UK government should listen to the legitimate issues being raised. Inflation is at record high levels, as have been corporate profits. The solution lies in bridging that growing gap between those who are accumulating the profits and those who are suffering the price hikes by enabling workers to claim a fairer share of the contribution they make through their work.
If the UK government were sincere about addressing the cost of living crisis, it would start by addressing its consequences on working communities. That goes first and foremost through pay rises that keep pace with cost-of-living hikes.
The UK government is attempting to isolate the British trade union movement. Their narrative seeks to separate working people along any lines they deem can create division: public and private workers, nationals and non-nationals, white and BAME, men and women, medium and low incomes, precarious and stable contracts.
Workers’ interests are collective and our strength lies in our unity. The European trade union movement stands firmly in solidarity with the British trade union movement on the TUC’s national ‘protect the right to strike’ day and every day. Our response to the government’s attempt to divide and isolate workers in the UK is to strengthen our unity.
Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths congratulated the strike organizers as well as saying:
Our party also congratulates the pickets who have shown discipline and have robustly put the case for a maximum turn out for strike action.
Union action is stronger when we are together. Today is a living testimony to working class principles of Unity, solidarity and not crossing a picketline.
There is a rising tide of rage at the attack on wages, conditions, pensions and services and at a government that simultaneously blocks negotiations in some areas whilst conducting sham negotiations in others. They should come to the table or clear out of the way.