Tuesday, 13 May 2014

What's all this about July 10th?

Date imgae
The self appointed Peoples Assembly have announced that there will be a "mass strike" on July 10th. John Rees informs the British working class:

Teachers, civil servants, firefighters - members of the NUT, PCS, Unison, Unite and the GMB - look likely to take part in a mass strike on 10 July. It will be the largest co-ordinated action since the collapse of the pension’s dispute two years ago.

Thanks for telling me, could have missed the whole thing since nothings been mentioned or sent to PCS Reps and members, though after the report was posted on the unions Face Book page, we were told an EM (Emergency Motion) was "doing the rounds" in some branches.

Of course nothings actually set in stone is it? Rees continues:

The strikes still depends on ballots in some unions: Unison’s ballot over local government pay which starts on 23 May, for instance, and the GMB ballot on the same timescale. The PCS already has a live ballot for action but is likely to put a consultative ballot in place. The NUT is already planning action and seems likely to strike on the 10 July if that is when other unions strike. The FBU, is already taking strike action, and has pledged to take action on the 10 July as well.

Oh that's nice we're going to be asked.

As for the "live ballot" in PCS, frankly that petered out ages ago and most members will have forgotten about it, so I don't think the far-left leadership would have much choice but to ballot again.

So what should we make of all this?

It certainly makes a difference to the shrill calls for a general strike made religiously by Socialist Party and PCS Grandees like Janice Godrich that has been falling on deaf ears for longer than anyone, myself included, cares to remember.

Phil Dickens (an anarchist of sorts) writes:

which brings us to John Rees. The main contender for Grand Old Duke of the Far Left brings us the announcement that “10 July will be the largest day of strike action for two years.”

You may be surprised. As will the vast majority of members and activists in the unions apparently taking this action, who are still awaiting the results of ballots and the debates at conferences that should be the deciding factors in what happens next. But if the date itself is out of the blue, the tactic of various tiny left sects dictating struggle to rank-and-file workers with scant regard for anything but self promotion is wearily familiar.

As tiresome as the hijacking is the overblown rhetoric that surrounds it. Rees tells us that between the People’s Assembly demonstration on 21 June and the TUC demonstration in October, “the anti-austerity movement [has] the chance to hit the government twice in a few months with mass displays of opposition to its cuts programme.” Now, with the apparent July strike and possibly another in the Autumn, we have “a period of sustained opposition to the Tory coalition is opening up immediately before the general election.”.......

There is no reason why this sequence of actions should be any different than the other sequences of actions we’ve seen in past years. Lots of buzz among the left, grand days out of activists and then the deflation for workers once they realise that having been marched up to the top of the hill all they have left is to march back down again. It’s a formula which boosts the profile of certain individuals and sells a few extra papers, but ultimately doesn’t make a dent in austerity.

About sums it up really, not that I usually have much common ground with Phil, but his comments (though not his solutions) are more than reasonable comment.

Fact is that I don't see much in the way of members demanding such strikes even though they are beginning to ask about this years pay. Strikes of any sort seem more than far from most peoples minds no matter how worthy such action may or may not be.

This rather "top down" proposal has no value. Strikes only work when there is a real, and I mean real demand from members for such action to be taken. The vanguardism of the left ignores basic industrial reality. PCS was forced to abandon its strikes due to ever decreasing support. That's a fact whether the comrades choose to ignore it or not.

Currently my fear is a half baked proposal like this could undermine the unions in the future.  

Back in the late seventies the left marched around London calling for the Callaghan government to be overthrown and for a socialist alternative.

What they got was Thatcher.

Be careful what you wish for comrades.

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