Take to the streets in solidarity with the strikers

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This Saturday is shaping up to be a big day of resistance, with 175,000 workers set to strike across the country. The strikes come in response to the Tories’ declaration of intensified class war in their mini-budget last week, which included plans to break unions and push for wage cuts.

Marches and rallies are planned in around 30 cities and towns, there will be plenty of opportunities for solidarity on the picket lines.  

Patrick Harrington, the general secretary of Solidarity union said: “In response to the Tories’ declaration of intensified war on ordinary workers in their mini-budget last week and the below inflation pay offers (pay cuts), 175,000 workers across the country are set to strike this Saturday. With marches and rallies planned in around 30 cities and towns, this could be one of the biggest showings of the power of ordinary workers strength in recent years. I urge every decent person to stand with the strikers by attending the demonstrations and picket lines.”

If we want to win, we need more strikes, escalating strikes, and united strikes that fight to win. This is just the beginning – let’s make it a day to remember! Only then can we hope to put an end to this declaration of war on workers. Saturday promises to be a big day – let’s make it a step forward in the fight for our collective future.

It’s time to take to the streets.

On October 1st, get out to the following locations to support the strikes and the five demands of Enough is Enough.

Protests:

LONDON

12pm, Kings Cross station, N1 9AL

MANCHESTER

12pm, Piccadilly Gardens, M1 1RN

LIVERPOOL

12pm, St. George’s Plateau, L1 1JJ

LEEDS

10am, Leeds Train Station, LS1 4DY

GLASGOW

12pm, buchanan street steps, G1 2NG

BIRMINGHAM

12pm, Birmingham New Street Station, B2 4QA

BRISTOL

12pm, Square in front of Knights Templar, BS1 6DG

CARDIFF

11am, Cardiff Central Library, CF10 1FL

NORWICH

11am, King Street near Last Pub Standing, nr1 1pd

NOTTINGHAM

11am, Nottingham train station, NG2 3AQ

NEWCASTLE

12pm, Grey’s Monument, NE1 7AN

HULL

12pm, Queens Garden, HU1 3FA

PORTSMOUTH

10am, Guildhall square, PO1 9ST

PLYMOUTH

12pm, Plymouth Guildhall, PL1 2BJ

SOUTHEND

10.30am, Royal Mail, Short street, SS1 1AA

HASTINGS

11am, HASTINGS STATION, TN34 1BA

ELLESMERE PORT

12pm, Stanney Grange Community Centre, CH65 9HE

HUDDERSFIELD

1pm, St. George’s Square,  HD1 1LA

LANCASTER

11am, Royal Mail, Fenton Street, LA1 1AA

BATH

12.30pm, The Orange Grove, BA1 1EE

SHEFFIELD

11.30am, Devonshire Green, S1 4GT

COLCHESTER

2pm, War Memorial, ME7 1HL

DARLINGTON

1pm, high row opposite post house wynd, DL3 7LP

PRESTON

12pm, Flag Market, PR1 2AP

DUNDEE

12pm, 110 Blackness Road, DD1 5PB

ABERDEEN

11am, Marischal college, AB10 1AB

STOKE-ON-TRENT

10am, Network Rail Depot, Stoke Road,  ST4 2QH

WALSALL

12pm, Royal Mail, Hatherton Street, WS1 1AA

CANTERBURY

1pm, Canterbury Baptist Church, CT1 1UT

LUTON

12pm, Town Hall, George Street Luton LU1 2BQ

BLACKPOOL (FRIDAY SEPT 30)

7PM, Bootleg Social, 30 Topping St, FY1 3AQ

BRIGHTON

11am, Brighton Train Station, BN1 3XP

HARLOW

11AM, The Obelisk, Broad Walk, CM20 1HA

WEYMOUTH

11am, King’s Statue, DT4 7AN

EASTBOURNE

12pm, Eastbourne Library, BN21 4TL

CHESTERFIELD

11am, Shentall Gardens, S40 1LW

EDINBURGH

10.30AM, Waverley Bridge, EH1 1BQ

More cities and towns to come. Non-listed locations by Friday are asked to assemble at their local picket line at 12pm.

United protests and actions on October 1

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Saturday 1 October is set to be a major day of united strikes by over 170,000 workers. Rail workers, workers at Royal Mail and dock workers at Felixstowe will all strike. The media has dubbed the day of action a ‘perfect storm’.

On Friday the RMT emailed its 40,000 members on Network Rail and 14 train operating companies about a new strike date of 1 October. General secretary Mick Lynch added: “Due to the period of national mourning, the RMT will be making no press or public statements regarding the action.” The union may announce another day, probably 5 October, later.

The Aslef union, although it has also made no public statement, is also calling for more strikes by around 9,000 drivers at 12 companies. The managing director of rail operator LNER, David Horne, tweeted that the union had notified it of strikes on 1 October and 5 October.

The TSSA rail union has also called strikes for 1 October.

Over 115,000 Royal Mail workers in the CWU union were already set to strike on 1 October. And there are also scheduled strikes by more than 560 dockworkers at the Port of Liverpool, and 1,900 workers at the port of Felixstowe that cover that day. Together they move 60 percent of Britain’s container traffic.

The Liverpool strike is from Monday until 3 October and the Felixstowe one is from 27 September to 5 October. Unity is a big step forward. Pressure from below has helped to push the union leaders to call strikes on the same day.

On 1 October the Enough is Enough campaign needs to mobilise the 600,000 people who have signed up to its campaign. It calls for real pay rises, taxing the rich, an end to food poverty, decent homes for all and slashed energy bills.

It has now announced protests for 1 October in 13 cities — London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Hull, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Norwich and Bristol. These can unite the picket lines and wider groups. Everyone should build them.

Don’t Pay UK have also called protests on the day.

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented:

The value of wages, having been stagnant for 12 years, is now falling. Offers of wage increases which are less than the rate of inflation is, in effect, wage cuts. That’s the stark reality for workers and that’s the main reason for strikes and protests. You can’t take money from people’s pockets without them getting angry.

“The other factor is that after a decade of austerity, people have had enough. They’ve seen public services privatised and being run for profit, not for need or the public good . That’s why the Labour Party’s pledge under Corbyn to renationalise the railways and water companies, as well as bring energy back into public ownership, was so popular.”

It’s good to see unions striking on the same day and that protests are being organised by Enough is Enough. If workers are to protect their living standards, then this action must spread and escalate. Workers must not be made to pay for bad government decisions and policy.  We need to see more days of action, and co-ordinated action, until we get a decent pay rise for all.”

Harrington continued:

“There is a lot of anger out there. And it needs to be harnessed in a constructive way so that workers get the pay rise that they deserve. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to get involved in the protests on 1 October, and to support the strikers.”

Unions cancel strikes as a mark of respect to the late Queen

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Postal and rail strikes were canceled in an announcement last Thursday after the death of the Queen.

Planned strikes by Royal Mail workers on Friday were called off following the Queen’s death. Members of the Communication Workers Union were due to continue a 48-hour walkout in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Rail strikes that were being prepared for September have been canceled. Train drivers union Aslef had set a strike date for Thursday, September 15. The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) had planned a walkout on Monday, September 26.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has postponed its annual conference that was due to be held in Brighton from Sunday for four days.

The cancellation of the rail and postal strikes can only be a temporary mark of respect. The issues which underly them remain unresolved. The unions would have faced much criticism if they had continued with their plans. The leaders of the unions involved have made a difficult but likely wise decision. The Morning Star was right to point out, however: 

“Nobody will say that the Queen’s death means company bosses should drop their vicious attacks on workers’ rights as a gesture of respect.

Newspaper pundits won’t ask how the Tories have the effrontery to wage class war at such a time.

That’s never the narrative: it is workers who cause disruption by fighting back when attacked, never bosses who cause it by picking our pockets.

That this is exactly what bosses are doing has been demonstrated in detail in reports like Unite Investigates’ Corporate Profiteering and the Cost-of-Living Crisis.”

Bakers’ union BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley said: “The decision to postpone TUC Congress is completely understandable after the news of the Queen dying on Thursday.

“[But] the cost-of-living crisis, though, hasn’t and will not go away — and we have a lot of work to do over the coming months as a movement to support working people through it.

“When the TUC does meet, we will have a clearer idea of the political landscape with [Liz] Truss as Prime Minister and this will inform our strategy.”

Postal workers shut down the Royal Mail

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Royal Mail workers shutting down nearly the whole of the postal service on Friday delivered a resounding message to their bosses: we’re not going to take your meagre pay increase lying down.

The strike, the first national one in 12 years, comes after postal workers were offered a below-inflation pay rise of just 2 percent. In other words, their real-term pay would be cut if they accepted the offer. Meanwhile, top executives have been raking in profits and awarding themselves big bonuses.

Clearly, the workers have had enough and are determined to get a fairer share of the company’s success.

The strike sends a clear message from postal workers: we’re not going to be taken for granted any longer. We deserve a fair share of the company’s profits.

Addressing a large crowd of striking workers and campaigners outside Royal Mail offices in Farringdon, central London, CWU general secretary Dave Ward warned greedy bosses at the privatised company that workers would not give in easily.

To loud cheers and the tooting horns of passing buses, he said: “When we say we’re in this for the long haul, you better believe we bloody well mean it.”

Around 115,000 workers at the firm are also set to walk out on Wednesday and on September 8-9, after the union said management imposed a 2 percent pay rise without consultation.

Royal Mail insisted the offer actually amounts to 5.5 percent, about half the lowest rate of inflation in July, but CWU categorically rejected this claim as a lie.

The union’s members at the Post Office, who first walked out in May, are also striking after the state-run company imposed a pay freeze in 2021-22 and offered 5 percent plus a £500 lump-sum for this financial year.

About 3,500 workers are involved in that dispute.

Mr. Ward called for solidarity with workers nationwide, as rail staff, dockers, criminal barristers, and exam board employees also take industrial action.

He said: “Solidarity has never been more important, solidarity with your colleagues and other unions is the way we’re going to win.

“Solidarity with workers who are not in unions, who are getting shafted up and down the UK. At CWU, we say every worker counts.

“We’ll win our disputes, but we’ve got to do more. I think it’s time that we push the boundaries further than they’ve ever been pushed.

“I think it’s time we saw collective action led by trade unions, led by community organisations and we get the whole of the working class in the UK together to fight back.”

Rail union RMT’s head Mick Lynch also addressed the lively demo, which included campaigners from the National Education Union, the University and College Union, Unison, and Equity.

Mr. Lynch, whose union has held six national strike days this summer, said: “The billionaires and the big corporations are telling working people to cough up for the problems in this society and become poorer.

“Our message to them is simple, enough is enough.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union said:

This is an inspiring show of strength by postal workers. They are up against one of the most powerful companies in the country. Postal workers have been humiliated and treated with contempt by their bosses. But they are now fighting back. Their action has caused massive disruption to postal services across Britain. It has also sent a message of hope to low-paid workers who are facing similar attacks on their pay. The postal workers’ strike is an important battle in the wider war against austerity and for decent pay for all.

Support the Postie strikes

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Post Office workers are to stage fresh strikes in escalating action over pay, their union has announced.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will walk out on August 26, 27, and 30, with some of the action coinciding with strikes by BT, Openreach, and Royal Mail employees.

It will be the fourth round of action by Post Office workers, including in larger high street “Crown” offices, administration, and across the supply chain.

Around 2,000 workers will walk out on August 26, the same day as 115,000 postmen and women from all parts of Britain go on strike in a separate row over pay.

Crown office employees will strike again on August 27, while supply chain and admin members of the union will walk out on August 30.

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “We’re as determined as we have ever been to keep fighting and win a settlement that will protect our members’ standard of living through these exceptionally difficult economic times.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented:

“Postal workers are right to strike in the face of an unreasonable, below inflation, pay offer. We must give them whatever support we can. The strikers are fighting against the lie that workers must pay for the economic mismanagement of government and that they should take real-term pay cuts while firms pay dividends out.

The Strikers are fighting for us all says Pat Harrington

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In the UK, workers are striking for a number of reasons. They’re fighting for better pay and working conditions, They are seeking higher wages in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. The average UK worker has seen their real wages fall by 10% since 2008, while the cost of living has risen by more than 20%. This means that workers are struggling to make ends meet and many are increasingly reliant on food banks and other forms of charity. The strikers are also calling for an end to zero-hours contracts, which leave workers unable to predict their income from one month to the next. These contracts can make it very difficult to budget and save for unexpected expenses. The strike action is unprecedented in recent years and is a sign of the growing frustration of workers who feel that they are being made to pay the cost of inept political leadership and economic management.

The prices of essentials like food and housing have been rising faster than wages for years, and people are struggling to make ends meet. The strikers believe that the only way to address the cost of living crisis is to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. By doing so, they hope to make life better for all those affected by the crisis.

Battle lines are being drawn

Unions are prepared to fight against real-term wage cuts for their members. There are some big battles on the way and everyone will have to decide which side they are on. For us it’s simple – we are on the side of the workers and against those who’ve caused the cost of living crisis and now expect ordinary people to pay for their mistakes. Here is a breakdown of some of the battles to come.

Rail workers

Around 50,000 rail workers in the RMT, Aslef, and TSSA unions are fighting over below-inflation pay offers, job cuts, and working conditions. RMT members are planning three 24-hour strikes on Wednesday 27 July, Wednesday 18 August, and Saturday 20 August. The union is also in dispute with Network Rail over plans to cut 1,500 jobs and close ticket offices. Aslef members are planning a 24-hour strike on Saturday 30 July. The union is in dispute with eight train operating companies over pay, rostering arrangements, and the introduction of driver-only operated trains. TSSA members are balloting for industrial action. The union is in dispute with Network Rail over pay and working conditions. All three unions are also in dispute with London Underground over the closure of ticket offices and the introduction of all-night Tube services. Industrial action is likely to cause widespread disruption to rail services across the country.

Posties and communication workers

Nearly all Royal Mail workers who voted supported going on strike in a huge 97.6 percent landslide, making it clear they are ready to battle their bosses. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) members backed strikes by an overwhelming margin on a turnout of 77 percent in their fight against the imposition of a 2 percent pay increase by management. No strike days have been announced yet by the CWU. This follows other recent high-profile industrial disputes such as British Airways. Given the government’s attacks on workers’ rights, union membership has been growing recently as people look to emulate the success of French workers in fighting back against austerity. With such a massive show of support from CWU members, management at Royal Mail will be under pressure to start negotiating seriously or face the possibility of widespread disruption to mail services across the country.

Public service workers

PCS union members are demanding a 10 percent pay increase and a minimum wage of at least £15 an hour. The ballot is set to begin on 26 September and run for six weeks until 7 November. If the workers vote in favour of strike action, it could mean serious disruption for government departments across the UK. The union has already taken industrial action this year, with walkouts happening in May and June. Talks between the PCS and the government have so far failed to reach an agreement, with the union accusing the government of offering “derisory” pay rises. The workers are also angry about job losses and cuts to workplace benefits, such as pensions. With no end to the dispute in sight, it looks like we could see more industrial action from the PCS in the near future.

Teachers

Teachers across schools in England will be consulted on strikes in the autumn. The Tory government wants to impose a 5 percent increase on teachers after recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body. When? NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the union would consult members on strikes in the autumn with “the largest ballot of teachers for a generation”. Meanwhile, the NASUWT said its executive would meet on September 14 to consider ballots for action. What’s the problem? Teachers say they have faced a real-terms pay cut since 2010 and that their pay has fallen behind other graduate professions. They also argue that increased workload and mounting pressure are making the profession unsustainable. The government says it has increased funding for schools and that teachers’ pay is a matter for individual headteachers. However, headteachers say they are being forced to make cuts because of reductions in funding. Low morale among teachers is having an impact on pupils, with around two-thirds of teachers saying they are considering leaving the profession, according to a recent survey.

NHS workers

The Tories are at it again! This time, they’re trying to push through a real-terms pay cut for NHS workers in England. With over one million NHS staff affected, including nurses, paramedics, and midwives, this is sure to be a controversial move.

Under the Tories’ plans, NHS workers would receive a pay increase of £1,400 a year. However, when inflation is taken into account, this actually amounts to a real-term pay cut of £200 a year for porters, £1,100 for nurses, and £1,500 for paramedics. The main health unions are understandably up in arms about this proposal.

It’s yet another example of the Tories’ complete disregard for the vital role that NHS staff play in our society. We all rely on the NHS when we’re sick or injured, and these dedicated workers deserve to be fairly compensated for their hard work. Imposing a pay cut on them is nothing short of disgraceful.

Fire and Rescue

The FBU union’s executive council has unanimously rejected a 2 percent pay offer from fire and rescue employers. The council says the offer is “insulting” and that plans are being prepared to develop a campaign for decent pay, including the possibility of strike action. With firefighters already among the lowest-paid workers in the public sector, the union is adamant that its members deserve a fair deal. It remains to be seen whether the employers will budge on their offer, but one thing is clear – the FBU is ready to fight for a better deal for its members.

Solidarity union backs our brothers and sisters 100 percent. We must back the strikes however we can. We must encourage other workers outside traditional union structures to organise and take action and co-ordinate our efforts. The strikers are fighting for us all by making it clear that ordinary people will not suffer impoverishment and cuts to their wages to pay for the mistakes of those who misgovern us. Political leaders haven’t fought for the people. The unions must.

By Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union