Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Prepare to resist austerity in 2013

Editorial of the Socialist

Millionaire Tory Chancellor Osborne began his Autumn Statement speech with excuses for economic predictions reduced from 0.8% 'growth', to -0.1%, a contraction, and lower forecasts for years. Two days later the Guardian reported: "The City has put the UK on triple-dip recession alert after news that falling factory and North Sea production have sent the output of industry plunging to its lowest level in 20 years."

In reality the truth is the capitalist class in Britain, as elsewhere, have no solution to the deep-going crisis of capitalism they face. We've quoted Einstein's definition of insanity before, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results", but it is certainly apt.

Osborne later pledged that a further cut in the rate of corporation tax to 21% from April 2014 - already among the lowest of the world's main economies - would bring us growth and jobs. But there is no evidence to show that previous reductions have had that effect - the opposite has happened.

On the one hand you have Amazon, Starbucks and co, corporate tax-dodging. On the other hand you have £800 billion lying idle in the bank vaults of the big corporations as they see no easy profit in spending it.

A government serious about improving the lives of millions would make a 50% levy on that stashed cash and use it to put money where it will make a difference - in working class and middle class people's pockets, through a massive programme of socially useful public works, through wage and benefit increases and real job creation not workfare, so we can actually spend money, raising 'consumption'. But they refuse to consider tapping their super-rich big business pals. In the same vein, Osborne decided against a mansion tax.
Blame game
Disgracefully but characteristically Osborne directed us to blame our neighbours for the cuts he announced, and talked about: "being fair to the person who leaves home every morning to go out to work and sees their neighbour still asleep, living a life on benefits ... we have to have a welfare system that is fair to the working people who pay for it."

The government's big lie, that we are divided into 'shirkers' and 'workers', must be smashed. They want us to blame each other for the poverty conditions we face - but it is them and the capitalist system they defend that are to blame. This budget limits most working-age benefits to a 1% rise for three years, breaking the link with inflation and meaning misery for millions.

Look at the figures: on average there are more than five job seekers for every vacancy. And the majority of new claimants for housing benefit are working people - with an estimated six million stuck in precarious, low-paid work. The real shirkers are the millionaires and billionaires whose wealth is continuing to pile up - whether they work or not - while we are being put on rations.


Again we heard about Osborne's fantasy infrastructure plans - this time £5 billion to go into roads, broadband, science, etc. We'd all like to see investment in socially useful and planned infrastructure, bringing jobs and improved travel and living standards but his inadequate measures will be paid for by fresh cuts across most government departments.

The Ernst and Young Item Club said that this amount would have "minor, almost negligible impact", and Guardian research shows that of commitments made in the 2011 Autumn Statement very few of the projects announced have progressed. This year the Chancellor pledged £1 billion for roads but the Guardian reports that of the 18 road schemes in last November's budget work has not begun on one!

That the gas strategy is to include consultation on incentives for fracking represents major threats to health and safety and to the environment.

Teachers will face the prospect of performance-related pay, a bully's charter in effect. Already the number of teachers who quit their jobs in English state schools has risen by almost a fifth in one year. See page 4 for more on this.

Education spending shows a blatant transfer of wealth and partial control from ordinary people to the rich vultures preying on our public services.

A smug Tory education minister Michael Gove will be given £1 billion, 'saved' from government departments to spend on expanding his pet academy and free school project - in effect privatising schools, eroding education workers' rights and democratic accountability and transferring land from the public to the private sector.
Fail, fail, fail

Labour MPs made speeches attempting to show that the Con-Dems are "failing, failing, failing", as Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, put it. But Labour is also failing - failing to put up any alternative to austerity.

Osborne has promised austerity into the next parliament. If Labour announced that they would cancel all these measures if they won the next election they would be enormously popular.

Local government is to have a year's 'respite' from the massacre of its budget, notwithstanding previously decided enormous cuts coming down the line in April. But the year after there will be a 2% reduction in spending. What does this mean? No let up from the Tories handing the axe down to local councillors.

If Labour councillors cannot find the courage, as the few rebel councillors in Southampton and Hull have done, to vote against this annihilation of local services, they must step aside or face a challenge from people who will - and that means trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners standing as 'no cuts' candidates.
Action needed

The case for building a new mass workers' party that would actually oppose cuts is clear. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, involving the RMT transport union and other leading trade unionists, is an important step in that direction.

The best way to show the mass opposition to austerity is to support the call for a 24-hour general strike. There is no question the mood is there. See the workplace reports on page 4, largely unreported elsewhere.

In Scotland Unison delegates representing union members in local government, health, education, etc, unanimously supported a motion calling for a coordinated industrial action strategy, beginning with a one-day strike across Scotland and coordination with unions across the UK for a one-day strike.

The PCS union has announced a ballot for strike action in the New Year - that will provide the basis for other unions to join the action. Such action would terrify this posh-boy government - look at the measures they take to try to weaken the unions. Strike action would also massively build the confidence of working class people that we can defeat the Con-Dems.

Socialist alternative needed

With all this comes a questioning of what kind of a society we live in that sees children malnourished, pensioners dying in the cold, and hospitals closing - while there is no shortage of wealth. It's unsurprising that, with a comparable situation in the US, a Gallup poll has found 39% of Americans now have a "positive image" of socialism, 53% among Democrat voters.

The 30% vote for a Socialist Alternative (CWI) candidate in Seattle in November's US elections is further evidence of the search for an alternative to rotten capitalism - in the belly of the beast itself. The times are changing and this is not limited to the US.

In 2013, linked to making a 24-hour general strike our rallying call, the case for democratic socialism, based on planning to meet the needs of the '99%', the overwhelming majority, as an alternative to bankrupt, rotten capitalism must be made at every opportunity.

Solidarity with Bristol CWU postal workers in dispute against bullying and heavy workloads – No to all cuts & privatisation! Including Royal Mail!

Get the latest here;

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Autumn Budget: CUTS DON'T WORK

Chancellor Osborne has had to admit the humiliating truth - his policies to revive the British economy aren't working.

But his solution is to carry on with more of the same - make the working class pay more and do nothing about his tax-dodging, multimillionaire friends.

Councils across the country are cutting jobs and services. Now Osborne's autumn statement is rubbing salt into those wounds.

It carries measures which will hit the poor and the most vulnerable the hardest. In fact everybody except the super-rich is facing rising bills and falling wages, as well as job insecurity and a bleak future.

We're definitely not 'all in this together'.

Big tax-avoiding companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Google are embarrassed that their antics have been exposed.

It's not good PR. But they know that the chancellor will generally leave them alone, along with his rich chums.

After all it was Osborne who cut £3 billion from the tax office HMRC's budget in October 2010. This included axing 10,000 jobs.

When you look at this alongside the scandal of MPs still with their snouts buried in the expenses trough, it's no wonder that workers are fighting back.

The call for co-ordinated action against the cuts, low pay and the Con-Dem's austerity agenda in general is gaining support.

For example Unison's Scottish council has voted unanimously to instruct the union to "immediately take the necessary steps to promote with all STUC affiliated unions the need for a coordinated industrial action strategy, beginning with a one-day strike across Scotland."

Brian Smith, Glasgow city branch secretary and a member of Socialist Party Scotland explained that the trade unions "must step-up our campaign to defend wages, jobs, pensions and services by organising coordinated strike action across all sectors of the economy.

"At a time when Unison members are facing yet more pay cuts, further attacks on pensions and tens of thousands of jobs losses its clear the Con-Dem government will not stop unless they are forced back. A 24-hour general strike must be organised urgently to stop these attacks."

Failing coalition can be beaten:
Lobby the TUC on 11 December

The National Shop Stewards Network has organised a lobby of the TUC on 11 December to call on the TUC to name the date for a 24-hour general strike. 
To support this demand, see and get a copy of the model resolution.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Video: NHS Demo in Bristol

Around 2000 NHS workers and supporters from across the South West, joined together for a march and rally around Bristol against the Regional Pay proposal by the South West Pay Cartel.

GMB, BDA, BMA, British Association of Occupational Therapists, CSP, FCS, HCSA, RCM, The Society of Radiographers, UNISON, Unite and the Bristol & District Anti Cuts Alliance took part.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

This Friday is the anniversary of N30…TUC name the date for a 24 hour general strike!

From the National Shop Stewards Network bulletin, subscribe here:

Yes…on Friday it will be 12 months ago to the day when over 2 million public
sector workers went on strike to defend their pensions. It may have been just
a year ago but how many have forgotten about that day? The biggest single day
of strike action this country has seen for possibly 85 years, since the
general strike of 1926. But we believe that when you close your eyes and
remember how great a day that was or look at the photos you took or the videos
on YouTube, you’ll realise that it really did happen and it IS possible for
workers to take action in their millions. Because that’s what happened on N30

It wasn’t just a strike, it was a mobilisation of working people. The streets
were full in London, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff but also Taunton, Brighton,
Newcastle and almost every town and city throughout the country. We’ve no
doubt that it was the sights and sounds of workers and their unions on the
march again that has led to the countless disputes this year, including
victories like the Sparks, London buses and the Sova recycling workers in

N30 should have been the beginning of a programme of co-ordinated action that
could have defeated this government. But some of the union leaders settled and
killed the momentum, despite the best efforts of those like PCS, POA, RMT,
Unite, ISU, NIPSA and UCU who tried to salvage the dispute this May. But N30
showed that our demand that the TUC co-ordinate a 24-hour general strike
against the billions of pounds of cuts we’ve had and the 80% to come isn’t a
pipedream but necessary and possible. If a strike of the proportions of N30
was organised with the time for unions to prepare properly and co-ordinate
ballots and live disputes, how many other workplaces would see it as the
chance to raise their grievances against their employer – to strike together
in maximum strength?

N30 2012 will be like most days are this year – a day of strikes and protests.
PCS members in the Department of Transport will be on strike and all other PCS
branches will holding protests and to build for their national strike ballot
in the New Year on pay and to fight attacks on terms and conditions and union
facility time. Low-paid cleaners in RMT will be on the 2nd day of a 48 hour
strike for a decent wage.

We’ll be supporting these workers but imagine what we could achieve, if we
went on strike together? The NSSN has called a lobby of the TUC General
Council on Tuesday December 11th – now from 8.30am. It’s outside TUC HQ in
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. We took up to a 1000 union activists to
Brighton to lobby the TUC conference in September to successfully build
support for the POA motion calling for the unions to “consider the
practicalities of a general strike”. Come to the lobby on December 11th and
let the union leaders know how “practical” and absolutely vital it is!