Friday 25 April 2008

Mobilising Success of Today's Co-ordinated Solidarity Action Across Public Sector

What a day!

First, I met the TGWU members at Shelter who are on a two day strike because their management has decided to tear up their contracts and impose new terms of employment, cutting their wages and undermining their conditions. These are people who have dedicated their lives to working to tackle homelessness and who through their dedication have made Shelter one of the most respected voluntary sector organisations in the country. Their Chief Executive has decided that the organisation has to embrace the contract culture and that the staff must pay for this with cuts in pay and conditions.

Next, on to attend the rally in Westminster Central Hall in support of the teachers, lecturers and civil servants on strike. Listening to three young teachers addressing 3000 trade unionists packed into the hall just lifted all our spirits. You couldn't fail to be impressed by this display of the idealism of workers committed to their profession and to providing public services. The buoyant atmosphere of determined solidarity across a range of public sector unions demonstrated the potential their is in our movement at present and for the future.

Then I went on to address the Grades Conference of the RMT, which represents many of those railway workers who undertake the maintenance work on the rail network and the underground. Many of these RMT members have seen their jobs privatised, their companies like Metronet go bust and in some instances have seen their jobs being brought back in house under Network Rail. They made it clear that they too had had enough of being treated like chattels and delegates raised with me the possibility of solidarity action across public services.

I was then interviewed by various news programmes asking me why I supported today's strikes and informing me of the round of ministerial statements, including one from Gordon Brown, condemning the strikes.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this Government is close to a political tipping point. New Labour continues to alienate section after section of our support and the political situation is now perilously close to being irretrievable. By turning on its own movement and supporters New Labour is handing government over to the Tories.