United Kingdom: Support the struggles. Not one soldier to replace the strikers

Julio Santana – ISL United Kingdom

The Tories are so afraid of the wave of strikes announced for the next few days that they are considering using the military to replace strikers. Those responsible for the economic and social disaster want to blame the workers for what is happening. The two party system leads to new frustrations. We must support the demands in progress, reject the “iron fist” measures and demand a general strike. We need democratic and militant union leaders and a new anti-capitalist left alternative.

Zahawi: reactionary and corrupt

Nadhim Zahawi is the Chairman of the Tory Party and Minister without a Cabinet, as he currently does not head any ministry. From that position, he threatens to use the military to replace the ambulance drivers and airport personnel who will strike on December 21 and 23. Zahawi is a hypocrite who recognizes health patients just now, as the NHS strike has been announced. In addition, he is a corrupt rich man: in 2013, when he was a parliamentarian, he transferred the energy bills for his stables to the state.

Conservatives call for a “strong hand”

Last Wednesday there were parliamentarians who urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take drastic measures. For example, Tory Sir Christopher Chope : “The problem is that it’s not like all this came up at the last minute. We knew it was in sight. It’s all very well to talk tough, but people need to be protected now.” Along the same lines, Sunak threatened to ban strikes and their coordination in the public sector. For these reactionary purposes, the government affirmed that it is already training 2,000 members of the Armed Forces and volunteers.

A wave of claims

Faced with deteriorating wages and living conditions, the unions announced a wave of strikes. From 1 December to 11 January the tiered agenda of demands is made up of workers from: Royal Mail, SSTA secondary school teachers union and members of the NASUWT teachers union in Scotland, rail specialists from RMT on Network Rail and 14 companies, the RCN nurse’s union, ambulance drivers in GMB, the Unison and UNITE unions, the Scottish teacher’s EIS union (primary schools, special school’s members of primary and mixed primary/secondary special schools, and early years teachers). And the list can be extended even more. The social situation leaves no margin for waiting for the winter to pass or for the elections to arrive. For this reason, thousands of workers are forced to go on strike during the winter holidays.

They are terrified of strikes

The government’s threats to workers’ rights of expression are not signs of strength or social support. They respond to the panic that the British bourgeoisie and regime have towards social demands. They try to prevent the struggles from advancing, uniting and leading to a general strike. The changes of government, of economic plans, of political leaders and even of the monarch, failed to solve the problems of the workers or appease the social tension.

The other leg of the two-party system

Labour’s Bridget Phillipson told the BBC that a “fair deal for workers” was neededand that there could be no “deal without negotiation”. He further stated that the unions are right to “discuss wages and terms and conditions” and that they are desperate to have a conversation and discussion about wages, while the ministers refuse to do so. As they have been doing with all the proposals, their advice is to support the government until the elections, for which they go to the extreme of speaking for the unions.

What is the Labour Party’s policy towards strikes?

In the article ”It’s essential to end bipartisanship” we pointed out the disastrous role of Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, towards the struggles. He has gone so far as to prohibit his party from supporting strike pickets.And this second-order deputy dares to speak of “desperation?” Desperate is the situation of millions of workers who are on their way to destitution. Such that they will not be able to pay their energy bills to heat their houses, or will directly be left on the street due to the increase in rent.

Support the strikes unconditionally

The most important tasks are in sight: support the struggles, promote their coordination, the general strike and reject any military presence and strike breakers in the conflicts. Many unions contribute millions of pounds to the Labour Party. This has to end. For example, the UNITE union has a £45m strike fund. All money possible should be used to help workers in conflict. We are heading into long strikes, in which they will try to impose discouragement, demoralization and fatigue. Workers must have all the resources available so that, through a strike fund, we can continue fighting, living and caring for our families.

Having memory to have a present and a future

In 1972 the Conservative government of Edward Heath faced strong strikes from the miners’ movement and dock workers (the first after the great strike of 1926). Ultimately, the government conceded to most of the strikers’ demands. Two years later, in 1974, another miners’ strike would force Heath to call a general election with the question: “Who rules Britain?” At this moment there is an underlying question that goes in the same direction: will the same rich and miserable bourgeois like Nadhim Zahawi decide or are the workers the ones who determine their own social destinies.

Strike together

The TUC must promote the general strike. These are not normal times. The British bourgeoisie is clear about its privileged class interests. That is why it wants the working people to pay the costs of the capitalist crisis. For them, no effort or suffering is enough. They always want more. The working class united by its own demands, mobilized and imposing the general strike can show a path different to that of the government and the bosses. That is, for the crisis to be paid for by those who generated it, the capitalists.

It can be done

Due to the deterioration of living conditions and the will to fight of the workers, strikes have strengthened again after many years. It is an opportunity to advance in the union and political recomposition of the labour movement that cannot be missed. We need new democratic and militant union leaders. And a new political tool, from the left and anti-capitalist to overcome the vicious circle formed by the parties of the old British two party system.