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An Activist Supporter on the General Strike & the TUC

I attended the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC conference in Bournemouth on Sunday to demand a date be set for a 24-hour general strike. I was determined to make the TUC listen, inspired by activists and general secretaries alike who heeded the call for such a strike, delighted to hear the motion was carried by conference later that afternoon and angered that of the four unions to oppose, my union Usdaw was one of them.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett, whilst opposing the motion, bluntly announced that a general strike ‘is not going to happen’. Naming such considerations as the motion giving the media and government a stick to beat us with and the fact that a general strike would be illegal. Well, the government and their cronies in the media are beating us with a stick and it’s certainly hurting! Meanwhile if those working class fighters who came before us considered legality, we wouldn’t have trade unions at all. If over 6 million people in Britain took strike action, joined by students, the unemployed and others then the government would have a very hard time declaring it illegal and doing something about it.

Whilst in reply to John Hannett stating ‘now is not the right time for strike action’, Bob Crow quite rightly pointed out, that he remembers the same being said to the miner’s in 1984, who subsequently weren’t supported by the TUC and Bob asks, ‘How many miners are left now?’ The facts of the matter are that Usdaw have not properly asked for the views of its members in contrast to the CWU (Communication Workers Union), for example, who sent a letter on the subject to every branch asking for their views of their members. If John Hannett were to spend some time working on a checkout or distribution centre like his members he would know the hardships they face, their willingness to struggle and the need for a mass fight back.

We have no alternative but to fight for a living wage, decent pensions and against all cuts. If we don’t then we will lose a lot more in the future than we would from one day of strike action. Any worker who may think they can’t afford a day on strike are also aware they can’t afford this situation anymore, which is set to leave this generation the first to worse off than their parents since World War Two. There cannot be prevarication and cynicism in the trade union movement right now. We need decisiveness and determination to defeat this government and the ideology of austerity, which is nothing more than planned poverty for the masses. We need a 24-hour general strike to begin the fight back and I say to Usdaw and the TUC we need it now!

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