George Osborne said ‘Faster deeper’ cuts he meant it. Our side calls for strike action against those cuts – but do we mean it?
The announcement that Unite, is calling for a 24-hour general strike against austerity measures is very welcome. A serious program of strikes to defeat the Con Dem government is long overdue and a programme of coordinated strike action is the most effective way to stop them
The 1st April cuts to housing and other benefits will already be bringing more fear, hunger, debt and homelessness across the UK.
20% of the population is in poverty, but will bear 40% of all cuts. Disabled people, 8% of the population will bear 29% of all cuts. In the meantime, tax fraud remains 15 times higher than benefit fraud and the Tories callously blame the poor for their own plight. Demonising workers who they have thrown on the scrap heap.
The Con Dems can only get away with these barbaric measures because our side refuses to organise a real fight that would give people hope of an alternative. Unite must take some responsibility for this lack of effective resistance. The continuing lack of action feeds the Con Dems confidence to widen their attacks on ordinary working people.
Unite has already squandered several chances to join coordinated action.
On March 28th last year teachers and lecturers came out in London on their own. A missed opportunity, with our union leadership blocking calls from lay members for coordinated strikes.
On May 10th when 400,000 public sector workers walked out in defence of pensions, PCS, and UCU members struck, alongside our members in Health, though, senior officials made no attempt to deliver anything like the fantastic strike on November 30th 2011. The national publicity going out didn’t even use the word ‘strike’, and members were encouraged instead to give out leaflets or hold a lunchtime rally. In some regions, officials actively blocked industrial action. It’s no wonder the strike action was patchy.
We didn’t even try to involve our members in the M.O.D. and government departments at all! This was a catastrophic lack of leadership from Britain’s biggest union, and a union with 200,000 members in the public sector. Unite could have made a real difference.
Jerry Hicks the ‘rank and file’ candidate and only challenger to Len McCluskey in the election for Unite’s General Secretary said “A week ago the PCS organised a successful Budget Day strike with 250,000 walking out and although Unite has a written agreement with PCS to work together to fight the cuts, our leadership made no attempt at co-ordinated action. I do question the sincerity of the current General Secretary’s rhetoric”
He [Jerry Hicks] added “Our members in the Health sector called for a national protest when the measures against the NHS were introduced, but Unite’s leadership rejected this appeal and called for regional protests instead!”
Despite all of these missed opportunities, there is still the potential. Mark Serwotka has called for other unions to join the PCS in coordinated strike action on Wednesday 26th June when George Osborne announces his Comprehensive Spending Review.
But will Unite, if under the leadership of Len McCluskey, support this call for co-ordinated action?
Jerry Hicks made his position clear when he said “If I am elected General Secretary, one of the first calls I will make, will be to the PCS and other public sector unions to get co-ordinated strikes back on track. I will call emergency meetings of all our public sector National Industrial Sector Committees and argue for them to support the June 26 action. I will ensure that all of our officers throw everything into making June 26th a huge success for our movement.”
He [Jerry Hicks] went on to say “We need to build this co-ordinated action as part of the campaign for a 24 hour general strike – across both the public and private sectors against austerity and the employers’ offensive. But we need action, not just words.”
Now, when the Labour Party are formulating policy for the General Election in 2015, is the time to be telling them the policies we need if they are to get our money and support. They must reverse the changes to NHS, scrap the Bedroom Tax, and begin the process of repealing anti union laws.
Jerry Hicks, 7th April 2013
AS IF IT WERE A SPAGHETTI WESTERN
I have seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
We are about to enter the final week in the election for Unites General Secretary. I can say without hesitation that I have met some fantastic people and have been overcome with the generosity of spirit, when often staying in the spare rooms or on the couches of complete strangers who have been kind enough to give me a roof over my head as I have travelled the country. I have met members who like me are unemployed, like me are on the employers’ blacklist, who like me face the full wrath of the Con- Dem government in its ideological class war. And who, like me want a better union and a better world as our legacy to the next generation. That’s the Good.
The bad is that 85% of our members still feel no connection with the union or any worth nor value in voting in this election. To me that is just one of the failures of Len McCluskey’s 3 years in office. Indeed, unless the turnout is up on previously, I believe that it will represent an abstract failure of leadership, where he has failed to engage and inspire our members in a period of most need. Although it will come not as a surprise to me. Three years this very month at a hustings in Sunderland hosted by the Roll Royce manual combine, I said that having bailed out the banks with a £trillion of tax payers money we were staring in to the abyss as it would be us that would pay the price for the crisis not of our making, unless we fought back as we did with the poll tax, and were prepared to confront the anti union laws in defence of our pay pensions and jobs. Next speaker up was Len McCluskey who said I was ‘exaggerating’.
He got it wrong then, possibly because he was not about to suffer as we were, or because his judgement is flawed on the big questions Three years on I don’t get a sense of urgency, with millions now on the dole and the cuts predicted by me then rained down on us ever since. Certainly we have failed to properly apply co-ordinated action and are still only talking about a general strike.
Len McCluskey’s re-election campaign continues to wind its weary way into the gutter. Which if it hasn’t already will leave his reputation in tatters and risk him becoming a joke figure.
And now ‘the ugly’. First there was a series of outrageous manoeuvres to pull off an unopposed ‘re-election’, which were thwarted by our successful nomination.
Having been found to have been a dismal strategist on that count, along came the Len McCluskeys election address to 1.5 million members with the ludicrous pronouncements.
The truth is although this charade was supposed to be about his record and to ‘fulfil his vision’. But it is so weak that he has resorted to the sort of ‘red baiting and lies’ that the discredited Frank Chapple and Eric Hammond, trade union leaders of yesteryear, would be proud of.
He has not once attacked me on my policies of the ‘election of officials’ where members decide who shall represent them, rather than his own vision of continued appointments in a job for life. Or his policy of giving £10’s millions of members’ money to the Labour party up front and unconditional, against mine of payment by results, after Labour did the right thing.
Or attack me for saying that we should lower the retirement age from 67, that we should demand the creation of one million green jobs.
Or has he ever offered any worthy explanation of why our election timetable was altered so dramatically, suiting one member above all other 1.5 million.
These are the very reasons why Len McCluskey is not willing to take part in Unite organised hustings, the ones where on a head to head in the last election I won more nomination than him. In this act alone he has single handedly denied our members the opportunity to hear both candidates and make their own minds up based on what they hear, not what they are told.
No, instead he and his campaign team have used their positions and considerable wealth [most of which I believe is Unite members money] in seeking to dupe members and pervert the natural course of the election for the highest office in the union, that of General Secretary.
Sending out across the country what may eventually amount to 500,000 letters directly to the homes of members, at considerable cost, several hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on the re-election campaign of Len McCluskey and spouting lies and slurs against the character of an unemployed, illegally blacklisted member, namely Jerry Hicks – me! I have no access to rebut this filth. One such common lie is that I am ‘indebted’ to the Socialist Workers Party [SWP]. Whist I welcome their support, let me set the record straight. I have never asked nor have I ever received one penny piece from the SWP. This in stark contrast to Len McCluskey who met with the SWP, to court their support and offer inducements. As he did with a number of other ‘revolutionary’ groups though none of this is mentioned in correspondence to members.
While I applaud those that highlight the gap between rich and poor, welcome the attention drawn to Nick Clegg when he goes skiing as we suffer austerity, I marvel at the hypocrisy when comes from someone who is on £2,350 a week out of members pockets, and whose campaign spends hundreds of thousands of pounds in an election against an unemployed member. All this as the bosses look on. Actually there are bosses in our union who would have received the election address and letters I refer too!
The libellous letters being sent at great cost, all with the same wording and repeated lies scream out all that is wrong with our union.
Unite is becoming a ‘one party state’ with hundreds of appointed officials not one of them answerable to the members they are supposed to represent, but who keep a closer eye on their boss Len McCluskey instead of the members, for it is he that has the power to make or break their careers, and that is why none of them for the first time in our history has stood for the position off General Secretary.
My view is that this is not just a chance to get the union back but possibly the last chance to get the union back.
I predict that unless we win, Unite will funnel into the coffers of the Labour party up to £10 million from 2014 to the General election ‘unconditional’, or that the promises Labour make to get the money will be broken.
The appointment system of all officials will remain, and the ‘one party state’ will intensify stamping out all real criticism.
Unless we win it will be impossible ever again for anyone other than the incumbent, or the incumbents chosen one, to run for the position of General Secretary.
What I know is that Len McCluskey and his team are very worried about us winning, why? Because they know we could win.
Imagine how you would feel if we lost by one vote?
Now imagine how you would feel if we won by one vote!!!!!!!!
It is the last week now and only 3 or 4more posting days left for the ballot papers but 85% members still to put their cross in a box……………Keep on keeping on, and dare to dream. And please get those votes out.
There is another Spaghetti Western film title I could have used given that Len McCluskey is on £122,000……… A fist full of dollars!