Friday, 27 May 2011

June 30th - the building has begun

Yesterday, I received my ballot paper from PCS for national industrial action. Would I be prepared to take strike action and industrial action short of a strike? Yes and yes. Having voted to that effect, I popped my ballot in its envelope and posted it. Now begins the real campaigning work.

In the run up to, and aftermath of the vote at PCS conference, I found it far too easy to be cynical. Slogans such as "strike for the alternative" implied that a one-day strike was the limit of trade unionists' imaginations. Socialist Party and PCS Vice President John McInally's articles in the Socialist confirmed this position, claiming the ballot "set out a strategy capable of defeating the cuts" and describing General Secretary Mark Serwotka and President Janice Godrich as delivering "analytical, fighting speeches." Far from a great militant fightback and "strategies for struggle," promoting illusions and taking extremely limited actions was the order of the day for the official leadership.

But my cynicism is, and always has been, aimed squarely at bureaucracy and hierarchy. At a rank-and-file level, the picture is often very different. My own branch - where as an anarcho-syndicalist I am a minority of one - has formed a strike committee and we have built encouraging mass picket lines into our campaigning drive. We are also in the first stages of setting up a locally-controlled hardship fund. Efforts are under way to make this more than just a tired and routine one-day set-piece.

Nor are we unique in this respect. A number of organising meetings have taken place across the country to discuss ways to "generalise the strike." The idea that this must be more than just a one day strike, and that it must be more than just civil and public servants, teachers and lecturers involved is taking hold and spreading.

As far as I can see, it is unlikely that June 30th will become a general strike in the understood sense. However, we can turn it into a social strike through the use of widespread direct action. UK Uncut are currently focused on Saturday's actions over the NHS, but I hope they will be out on the day, doing what they do best. I hope the local groups campaigning to save Sure Start centres, libraries, etc, choose that day to organise pickets, occupations and blockades. I hope that school children continue the recent trend of leading their own walkouts and stand in solidarity with their teachers. I hope that disabled people continue to engage in disruptive direct action to draw attention to themselves.

In short, I hope and urge that on June 30th there is a widespread movement to inflict as much economic damage as possible. The attacks we face are coming at us as a class, and our resistance should not be divided into categories or single issues. After all, an injury to one is an injury to all!