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Public sector strike march leaves Chapelfield Gardens to march through Norwich City centre | by Roger Blackwell
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Public sector strike march leaves Chapelfield Gardens to march through Norwich City centre

The News Line: Editorial

Friday, 11 July 2014


Massive strike action greeted by Tory coalition threats!


AS millions of public sector workers, teachers, firefighters, local government workers and many other sections took strike action yesterday, Prime Minister Cameron pledged to bring in more anti-union laws to make it impossible to have a legal strike action.


He said: ‘I think the time has come for setting a threshold. It is time to legislate and it will be in the Conservative manifesto.’


Cameron attacked the low turnout thresholds in union strike ballots and challenged the validity of mandates to take industrial action derived from ballots conducted more than a year ago in some cases.


Tory MPs said strike action in schools had been supported in a ballot in 2012 by 22% of NUT members, and 33% of NASUWT members and said that it should be illegal that a single strike ballot can make successive rounds of industrial action lawful provided that the same dispute is involved.


The Tories are considering two strike threshold options. Under the first, backed by Mayor Johnson and Gove, a strike could only take place if it was supported by a majority of the entire membership, not just those who vote. Under the second, a minimum turnout of 60% would have to take part, regardless of how they voted.


Yesterday, education secretary Michael Gove accused the teaching unions of standing up for their pay and pensions but not for education.


Gove said: ‘The ballot which legitimates this strike is, I think, something like two years old and the turnout which validates that ballot was small.’


Unite however published its opinion poll showing that the public back the right to strike in this dispute by 61% to 31%, support a £1-an-hour increase in council workers’ wages by 48% to 35%, and oppose public-sector real-terms pay cuts lasting to 2018 by 56% to 25%.


McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, also attacked the prime minister’s plans to tighten the strike laws. He correctly pointed out: ‘The whiff of hypocrisy coming from Cameron as he harps on about voting thresholds is overwhelming. Not a single member of his cabinet won over 50% of the vote in the 2010 election, with Cameron himself getting just 43% of the potential vote.


‘If he practiced what he preached, then no Tory councillors would have been elected in the last 20 years and Londoners would have been spared the circus of Boris Johnson. So we’ll take no lessons from the Bullingdon bully, who gives tax breaks to his City chums yet plots to deprive lowly waged workers of their right to fight poverty pay.’


Cameron also attacked Ed Miliband for neither supporting nor condemning the strikes, billed as some of the largest since the general strike of 1926


Dave Prentis, the leader of Unison, the largest public-sector union, also also critisised Miliband’s stance, saying: ‘It is time for Labour to make up its mind. Public-service workers are people who should be Labour’s natural supporters and they deserve Labour’s unashamed backing in return.’


Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has stressed that members have turned out ‘in force’ for the strike today and that the ‘massive show of solidarity’ from the members and the public alike shows that 1% is just ‘not enough’.


Prentis said: ‘It is a disgrace that more than 400,000 local government and school support workers are paid less than the living wage and one million earn less than the Coalition’s low-pay threshold of £21,000.’


The unions in local government are seeking a pay rise worth £1 an hour. The unions claim ministers have in effect served notice that pay freezes in the public sector will continue until 2018, by which time the deficit is due to be eradicated.


The situation is now crystal clear. The working class has had enough, and will not stand for additional pay cuts and new anti-union laws that will make it impossible to have a legal strike action, and will legalise poverty wages for ever!


The Tories however are determined to proceed with their measures. It is a class war to the finish as far as they are concerned. As usual Miliband dodges the issue and shows that Labour will do the same as the Tories once it is in office.


There is only one solution to this crisis. The working class must fight to win! The TUC General Council, including McCluskey and Prentis must stop debating the ‘practicalities of calling an indefinite general strike, and must call one at this September’s TUC Congress, or resign and be replaced by leaders who will! An indefinite general strike will bring the Tory government down and bring in a workers government and socialism. There is no other way forward.

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Taken on July 10, 2014