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Monday, 8 April 2013

Growing need for a 24 hour general strike

As the cuts deepen the need for a 24 hour general strike becomes clearer and clearer all the time. The socialist party and the NSSN’s calls for this seemed abstract at the time but are now gaining an echo. With unions such as Unite coming on board taking up the calls this could really take off. With one of the biggest trade unions in the UK calling for such actions the calls really gain extra weight and carry far more influence than before. The beginning of this month marks a step change in Con-Dem attacks on all workers. Class war has been ratcheted up, with the charge cynically led by Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) on £134,000 a year and living in a rent-free mansion. New Coalition welfare rules will see the poorest face swingeing cuts; the disabled penalised even more; and to top it all, cuts to housing benefit for the “crime” of having a so-called spare bedroom will kick in. If they get away with all this then the next step looks like being the freezing, or even cutting, of the minimum wage. Meetings and protests have been getting off the ground all over the country like Hull, Swansea, Leeds and elsewhere. It feels a bit like the early days of the anti-poll tax campaign. Reminiscent also of the poll tax struggle, the biggest protest so far has taken place in Scotland, where last Saturday 5000 marched in Glasgow, and a further 2000 in Edinburgh demanding “Bin the bedroom tax”. The fighting spirit of all the angry demonstrators was not in any doubt. But we have to ask – where is the fighting spirit of the leaders of our most powerful defence organisations the trade unions? What plans are they making? We have heard media reports of churches and voluntary bodies coming out against the changes, pleading the case not to penalise the poor. We have heard Labour front benchers criticise the changes, but at the same time remain welded to free market policies and steadfastly refuse to commit to reversing Tory cuts if they come to power. In a meeting at the end of the Glasgow demo Rob Williams Chair of NSSN got a huge cheer when he demanded that the trade union leaders start organising now for a 24-hour general strike where everyone, both in the public and private sector can join together with community campaigners, the unemployed, students, disabled and pensioners in a day of mass action to demand these changes are immediately withdrawn. The government have done so many U-turns on various issues we have almost stopped counting! They could be beaten on this. The anti-poll tax struggle played a significant role in melting the iron lady Margaret Thatcher. The TUC and millions of workers could crumple these paper tigers Cameron and Clegg. The TUC general council will be discussing the general strike at its next meeting on Wednesday 24th April. NSSN has called a lobby outside Congress House from 8.30am onwards, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. We urge as many as possible to be there. (LINDA Taaffe NSSN National Sec )

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