In the last twelve months workers across the public and private sectors have taken, were considering taking or were planning to take industrial action in support of justified demands for above inflation pay rises, securing services, health and safety concerns and their workplace rights.
They were representative of every section of the economy: shop workers and transport staff, delivery service drivers, manufactures, factory workers, heath and care staff, postal workers, university lecturers and hospitality staff…..
Thousands more were engaged in ‘Work to Rule’ protests and thousands more again took action ‘Short of Strike’.
This week the Royal College of Nursing will announce the result of the strike ballot amongst its membership. It is expected to be overwhelmingly in favour.
These are very difficult and challenging times for working people and their families. Health and well being are being compromised, mental health pressures are mounting daily, the call on food banks increases week,ly homes are going unheated and children are going unfed. As a direct result of this economic crisis and the government’s response, many people here will not survive the winter.
In the midst of this human degradation and suffering, the priorities of the two largest parties: one refuses to form an Executive the the other places the claim to First Minister above all else.
Only a socialist society and a socialist economy can bring an end to the exploitation, indignity and misery inflicted on working people by a capitalist system.
However, there are real, immediate and pressing problems confronting working people. The awareness, confidence and belief that has been generated in recent times must not be wasted or watered down.
The current struggles are about much more than above inflation pay rises.
The actions of the trade union movement and the reactions of government, capital and the media have brought the entire set of working relationships into focus.
Now is the time to shift that relationship in favour of working people. We all have a collective responsibility to support and defend the movement towards a new dynamic based on the rights of workers, a high wage economy, an end to zero hours contracts, affordable, accessible and flexible childcare and a four-day working week.
Pretending to neutral is no pretence at all.
This is how Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT Union summed it up at a meeting outside Westminster during the week: