The TUC must call a General Strike now! Down with the Tories!
The workers' uprising that has been sweeping Britain for months has spread and intensified. The wave of strikes continues with new sectors, such as nurses, who have gone on strike for the first time in 106 years, ambulance drivers, civil servants and border workers. New strike votes by teachers and junior doctors have passed the threshold to go into action. All linked to new strike dates by Royal Mail and railway workers, the first to act and who havectaken dozens strike days since the battle began. In December alone, more than 1.5 million hours have been lost due to strike action, the highest figure since 1989.
This working-class rebellion after years of austerity policies, cutbacks and privatisation, which have plunged millions of working families into poverty, is exposing the deep crisis of British capitalism, its institutions and the Conservative Party. A crisis that has meant the fall of two Prime Ministers, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, in a few months, that has left the Tories stricken to death, and which cannot be separated from the decline of Great Britain as a world power.
But above all, a crisis that is revealing the enormous strength of the working class and how, when it starts to move, it can overcome any obstacle through organization, mass mobilization and direct action: the intransigence of the bosses, the repression by the government, the criminalization campaign by the big bourgeois media, the spurious maneuvers of the Labour leaders, and the cowardice and indecision of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) bureaucracy.
This is what has happened and is happening in Great Britain, with a movement that has overcome all expectations, coordinating from below, setting out in facts the necessity and possibility of a general strike. A movement that has turned into a workers' rebellion against the Tories and their policies, and ultimately against the capitalist system.
The Sunak government : more austerity, more racism and more repression
The new Conservative Government headed by Rishi Sunak, a multimillionaire with a family fortune greater than the new King Charles III, matches his predecessors in his reactionary character and is demonstrating it. Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Johnson and was also directly implicated in the Downing Street lockdown party scandal.
His government faces a catastrophic economic situation, with a looming recession that will drop British GDP by 1.4% in 2023, and with inflation of 11%, the highest in 41 years. All combined with a deep social crisis that continues to worsen: one in three children living in poverty; one in six Britons surviving on welfare, and one in four incapables to get to the end of the month. Numerous reports have shown that hunger has become a reality among hundreds of thousands of working families: emergency food parcels have been distributed to 2.1 million Britons in 2022 alone.
The new conservative government, after the critical situation experienced during the quick and crazy mandate of Liz Truss , has decided to give a twist to the austerity policies, raising taxes on the middle class and working families, and approving new social cuts that will deepen the destruction of public services. The situation has reached such a point that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned that the collapse of emergencies is causing between 300 and 500 people dying a week as a result of lack of medical care. At this moment 7.2 million Britons are on the waiting lists of the NHS (National Health System).
Faced with increasing pressure from the class struggle, the Conservative Party and sectors of the ruling class continue to deepen their shift to the extreme right and authoritarianism. His anti-immigration policy has nothing to envy to those of Trump or Meloni. The desperate attempts to stop strikes by toughening anti-union legislation or using the army to replace strikers, which happened with the strikes of borders and ambulances workers, shows how far they are willing to go. A measure criticized by the Chief of the Defense Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, aware of the dangers involved.
The problem for the Tories and the ruling class is that the far right populist demagogy that appeals to the nation, to economic nationalism, and which in Britain has had its highest expression during Brexit, has failed. Brexit has only aggravated the deep crisis of British capitalism. Since its approval, GDP has fallen by 5.5%, public debt has tripled, and the trade deficit has reached a record 25,000 million pounds, making its economy even more dependent on imports and international lenders. A serious warning for those who intend to face the capitalist crisis through economic nationalism.
For the General Strike to defeat the Tories!
The comeback of the British labour movement, recovering its historical traditions, has completely changed the political situation: months of conflicts and strikes that are paralyzing the public sector. But in order to definitively overthrow the Tories, to get them out of the government here and now, it is necessary to concentrate all our strength and strike hard and decisively. That is why the slogan of the General Strike is so needed!
Workers from below have forced strikes sector after sector, with near-unanimous votes passing the ultra-restrictive anti-union legislation, and with massive support from public opinion. After more than a decade of setbacks that have plunged real wages, forcing numerous workers, such as nurses, to resort to food banks, the working class has said enough is enough. While workers are being criminalised and pressured to be "reasonable", the City of London and the big capitalist monopolies are making profit records.
The extension and coordination of the strikes has taken a new leap this Christmas, but it has not been thanks to a conscious action of the leadership of the TUC or of the big unions like Unite or Unison. This coordination is being imposed from below, by the most combative unions and trade unionists, such as the RMT, which has become the black beast of the Tories and reaction.
In fact, the new General Secretary of the TUC, Paul Nowar, elected at its last Congress in October, had to refer to the general strike but to point out that under the current anti-union legislation it would be very difficult to call it and that each sector has its own particularities. This are only excuses in order to avoid the real unification of the conflicts and that all the strength and potential shown by the working class can definitively topple the Tories. An outcome that would fill the working class with confidence in their own forces, strengthen the strike movement, and complicate the plans of a future Labour government that intends to continue with the same policies of austerity and cuts.
Coming together in a General Strike would mean an injection of confidence and morale, and would drag into battle many other parts of the private sector that suffer the same wage cuts and deterioration of their living conditions. The militant left in the unions must campaign massively for the General Strike and fight to impose and organize it!
The Labor Party, the unions and the revolutionary left
With the Tories in deep crisis, the current Labour leadership led by Keir Starmer, who initially banned his MPs and public officials from the picket lines, refuses to openly support the strikes and to call for inflation-matched pay rises, and will not commit to abolish the new anti-union legislation that Tories are threatening to pass in the next few weeks. They openly justify it by pointing out that they are a "governing party."
The latest example of this scab policy, which helps to keep the Tories in power, has been the conference held with 350 senior executives from the main British companies and banks, where Keir Starmer and his team have vindicated themselves as the party of business, pointing out that Labour "is totally on the side of business." An openly pro-boss turn that seeks to end any hint of Corbynism that may remain in the Labor Party, and which has materialized in numerous donations from big businessmen, of more than three million euros, surpassing the Conservative Party for the first time.
While big business is welcomed with open arms, the witch hunt within Labour continues against MPs or public officials identified with Corbyn and the Labour left, either by expulsions, as happened with Corbyn himself, or by denying standing for re-election.
The Labour Party bureaucracy is voluntarily refusing to break with the austerity policies of the Conservatives. On the contrary, they are sending messages in the opposite direction. That is why they refuse to support the strikes and demands of the labour movement, and why they act with ferocious action to put an end to any leftist dissent. For this reason it is necessary to raise a class and socialist alternative that wins the conscious support of the millions of workers who are in struggle.
The “Enough is enough” movement, pushed by militant unions such as the RTM, the CWU (Post and Telecommunications Workers Union), and many union stewards from the trade union left, by Momentum activists, by Corbyn and even by Labour left officials and MPs, reveals the conditions are there to advance this process. But we must draw the lessons from previous experience, and understand that it is impossible to build a consistently left-wing alternative without a principle fight against the Labour right and its class collaboration policies.
The mistakes of Corbyn and Momentum in the past, giving in to pressure from the Labour apparatus and refusing to wage a serious battle against that legion of rotten and assimilated MPs and councilors, defenders of cuts that are willing to do anything to keep their seats, has allowed an exceptional opportunity to slip, with terrible consequences.
The Marxist revolutionary left must intervene without any sectarianism in these movements, fighting to unite the activists of the union left and Corbynism, and the new layers of workers and youth who are leading this wave of mobilizations with a clear program:
1. For the general strike to defeat the Tories. For this it is necessary to engage in a battle within the trade union movement promoting a militant campaign that points out the responsibility of the leadership of the TUC and of the big unions that integrate it such as Unite and Unison to put it forward.
2. For a united electoral front to impose workers' and left-wing candidates opposed to capitalist policies, that defends the nationalization of big companies, energy multinationals and banks to protect public services starting with the NHS, guaranteeing material and humans resources who end the waiting lists and make effective the right to quality healthcare for all; for decent and affordable public housing; for secure jobs and decent wages that do not force thousands of working families to choose between eating or keeping warm.
The huge resources that the City of London and the British capitalists hoard must be expropriated and placed at the service of most of the population. That is the only alternative! And to do so, the banner of proletarian internationalism and socialist revolution must be raised.