The strike actions called by the trade unions on March 28th in a supposed response to the attacks on pensions have moved from a “day of action” to a complete farce. The leaderships of UNISON and the GMB had already decided on 12th January to start negotiating with the government over pensions and soon other smaller unions like Prospect, ATL and NAHT swung in behind them. The union leaders are trying to make us believe that this is somehow different to the deal that the government was already pushing, when it was exactly the same thing.
Days of action in the last few months involved hundreds of thousands striking and marching. The proposed action on March 28th is now involving fewer and fewer unions and in the case of the National Union of Teachers will only be on a London rather than a national level. Likewise the University and College Union will not only be striking at a London level rather than the national level as previously decided but will only involve post-1992 universities (former polytechnics etc) and further education colleges. The Public and Commercial Services Union will not be striking at all, as its executive called off strike action despite 90.5% voting to reject the government’s offer and 72.1% voting to support a programme of further action with other unions – the highest vote for action the union has ever had. Similarly the Scottish teachers union EIS also called off strike action despite a 73.5 yes vote for action.
The action by the unions in Britain is echoed in the worthless days of actions called by union centrals throughout Europe which in fact demobilise and defuse the anger of workers against the bosses’ austerity programmes.
Increasingly we as workers have to look to our own grass roots organisation, controlled by ourselves and not involving those who would sabotage our struggles. The grassroots self-organisation of electricians, organising in spite of the UNITE leadership, delivered a victory. We have to find new ways of organising against the increasingly savage attacks by the boss class. We have to do that as a priority and as a matter of urgency. We cannot rely on the union leaderships to do this, we have to rely on ourselves.
Anarchist Federation (London)