Hundreds of workers were on pickets with concurrent community and union rallies across the North today like the Derry Guildhall Square protest supported by People Before Profit Cllrs Maeve O’Neill and Shaun Harkin.
Fundamental to getting real change from government will be pressuring the Tories. Pressuring the Tories is something that workers who are organised and can fight have the actual power to do. People Before Profit workers were on pickets today doing just that and People Before Profit reps and activists were with them.
Gerry Carroll MLA joined members of the Public & Commercial Services union members in Belfast today.
Cllr Mick Collins was out with NIPSA members protesting at the Secretary of State’s office. NIPSA members are currently sitting on an 85% yes ballot to strike. Workers we spoke to there said it’s time NIPSA put that strike mandate to serious use.
One-day actions are important tests for the unions, but they aren’t laying on serious pressure yet on the government or employers.
Nearly every union member who has done a one-day action knows that one-days are not really enough to beat the bosses, especially in long-unionised workplaces. When strikes are rare, one-days can get serious attention.
But the ground has shifted in the last 12 months. Strikes are in the news every day. (Unite’s NIHE workers have been out for over 7 months- sustained by Unite’s whopping strike fund.) Massive budget surpluses in the UK economy are being flaunted, and tanker-sized profits and bonuses are reported for investors and CEOs in the private sector. Though every fight is different, that means generally ‘one-day actions’ are not going to be enough.
Difficult as they are, workers need sustained fights to beat the bosses. Demos and rallies are key markers in the fight to win, but we’ll need to really shut down workplaces for longer blocks of time to build the power we need to win the concessions we deserve. UCU’s two-day strike is a clear step in the right direction but it’s only because workers are fighting to really beat the bosses, not just get them to the table.
People Before Profit will be there on the pickets with them as we’ve been with the NIHE strikers but it will take solidarity from across society to win. Our members are out striking too. And we know sustained supported srikes can win… we’ve seen it at Hovis just last week. We’ve seen incredible strength from CWU workers in Royal Mail and rank-and-file UCU members who are continually pushing for a strategy that lets their strike pour the pressure on university bosses and let their union negotiate from a position of power.
We are with the workers and community fighters. We encourage people to visit the pickets and keep talking about how to build the pressure needed to win for all of us working. It will need sustained action in many workplaces, across many sectors to get that pressure needed, combined with pressure and support from below in communities. The bosses can be beaten but it will take all of us taking a lead from striking workers.
Get out and support the UCU and Unite pickets at universities tomorrow!