March together on 20 October and then
strike together to stop all cuts
Steve Hedley, RMT assistant general
secretary-elect, and Linda Taaffe, NSSN, explain why they're lobbying the
With over 350,000 public sector workers already sacked and over one
million young people on the dole, it's terrifying to think that the
vast majority of the cuts are still to come - unless we fight them!
These cuts aren't necessary. £120 billion of tax goes unpaid every
year largely by big business and the rich. £750 billion is sitting
in big business bank accounts as the fat cats see no profitable
investment - it seems they're waiting to be handed guaranteed income
from the privatisation of services such as the NHS.
The Trades Union Congress is
organising a national demonstration in London on 20 October. The
National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) is committed to making this
demo even bigger than when 750,000 people demonstrated on 26 March
2011. But 20 October can't be the end of the campaign, but a new
beginning. The NSSN is lobbying the TUC's autumn conference to
demand that this march is followed by a 24-hour general strike.
Steve Hedley, who was
elected as the RMT transport union's assistant general secretary at
the end of July, explains why he is joining the NSSN lobby.
"I'm lobbying as we want to
ensure that there's action from the TUC. We believe that a general
strike, starting with the coordination of a 24-hour general strike,
is the only way that we're going to stop the cuts coming through.
Apparently there's only been
about 30% of the cuts made so far so we're still facing a massive
It's good that the TUC has
organised a demonstration in October, but this alone is not going to
stop the government. We can only do that by coordinated industrial
action. It's very important that the delegates at the TUC feel
strong enough and feel supported to demand that of their leaders.
There are people in the trade
union leadership who would see the 20 October march as a bit of a
relief valve to get rid of all the pressure building up from workers
who want action against cuts, let people walk up and down and then
they've done their bit, but that's not the case.
The demonstration needs to be an
organising demonstration. We then need to have a series of local
meetings after that demonstration and our unions, both nationally
and locally, should set up strike committees and decide how we're
going to take this on because at the minute we're not taking it on.
The RMT is a small union but
we're a very active union and we punch above our weight, so we hope
to be intricately involved."
To fire the imagination of the million workers expected to march
behind the TUC banner on a second monster demo on 20 October, a
slogan has been conjured up by the TUC leaders - "A Future that
Works". .. Eh? What? Is that it?
What happened to fighting
demands: 'No to Cuts', 'We want Jobs and Homes', 'Make the bankers
pay', and the like? Or could this be a clever play on words? A
future that works surely can't be capitalism.
The bosses' system is patently
not working, certainly not for a million unemployed young people,
the lost generation.
Could this slogan possibly hint at a socialist future? Are the TUC
leaders really supporting a change from a system that is all about
the lust for profits to a system based on planning for need? At the
end of the day, who knows?
I am not inspired by sophistry. I
want a clear strategy. Myself, and all those who get to the demo,
need to return to our workplaces with a clear idea of what we
actually need to do to get "a future that works".
It won't drop into our lap. The
bosses will see to that. It's not likely to happen even with the
election of a Labour government. Labour's policies are market-driven
too. But workers - organised - could do it.
The National Shop Stewards
Network (NSSN) calls for the TUC's 20 October demo to be followed up
by mass action - a 24-hour general strike for starters. This is the
reason why I am going to the Brighton Trades Union Congress that
starts on Sunday 9th September, to lobby the delegates, and the TUC
leadership, to urge them to begin a serious discussion about 'what
next' after the demo
I passionately want a future that
works, for my grandchildren fast approaching working age, for the
children in the school where I teach, and for all other youngsters.
But it is the next step the trade
union movement needs to take to get towards that goal that is the
burning question of the day.
More details of the NSSN lobby of the TUC here