April 24 – hundreds of thousands to walk out

Teachers on strike, April 24, 2008

On Thursday April 24 thousands of civil servants, coastguards, council workers, FE lecturers and charity workers will join a national teachers strike of 200,000.

Employer attacks on workers' pay is the main issue at stake.

Teachers in the NUT are walking out over their pay deal which was supposed to be revised when inflation rose, but the government refused: effectively cutting their wages.

Over 100,000 civil servants in the PCS across ten government agencies are downing tools over sub-inflationary pay rises.

Nearly 30,000 further education lecturers in UCU are stopping work in support of a demand to win pay parity with school teachers, and against excessive hours.

20,000 Birmingham council workers in UNISON, Unite, GMB and UCATT are striking for two days over a "single status" pay review which will cut some staff's pay in half

Hundreds of staff at homelessness charity Shelter are walking out for two days against an unpaid increase in hours and further cuts in pay and conditions.

700 coastguards are walking out in their third 24-hour strike from 7pm 23 April - 7pm 24 April against low pay, and continuing a work-to-rule.

What you can do
We spoke to a local government worker and libcom member who told us "the best thing other workers can do to support these struggles is to organise to improve their own pay and conditions. Communicate your own struggles to other workers, using tools such as libcom.org.

"On April 24, people not officially striking can help by not crossing picket lines.

"Report on developments near you on this thread in our forums, with photographs if possible. If you can, visit picket lines and show your support. Talk to the strikers, ask about the dispute and report back so that other workers can learn from them.

"For parents with dependency leave, if schools are closed you can tell your employer that your childcare fell through at the last minute. This will save you money, give you the day off and help spread the effects of the teachers' strike through the economy.

"Help spread the ideas that we can only win these disputes by taking control of them ourselves. The unions have been helping impose pay cuts, we cannot entrust the fight to them."

Background
Tension is brewing across the whole public sector in response to a central government directive to cap annual cost of living pay rises to 2%. When RPI inflation – which includes housing costs – is running at over 4% this equates to annual real pay cuts of around 2%.

Local government workers are being consulted on a 2.475% offer. Last year the unions either recommended this pay cut (Unite and GMB), or called off strike action aimed at beating it (UNISON). This year many workers fear they will manage to repeat this sabotage.

These fears are not unfounded. As reported on libcom, UNISON is already due to recommend a 3-year package of pay cuts for NHS workers. UNISON is also disciplining several union activists who criticised the leadership over their complicity in last year's pay cuts. UNISON Health last year banned branches from recommending members reject pay cuts.

John Stevens

Comments

silkandmatt52
Apr 23 2008 09:46

This is great news after years of reluctantly accepting pay cuts, detertiating working conditions etc workers will at last get a chance to get a sense of our power, solidarity. The shame is that there are no unemployed workers movements in existence which could help to organise unemployed workers. As one of the unemployed I recognise that solidarity is essential to make sure employers can't use us to drive down wages and conditions. If there are any unemployed who are intersted in organising in teeside then get in touch.