Sunday, October 02, 2016

Think globally. Act locally.

I congratulate all those who made it to Birmingham today to protest against the Tories. News reports suggest 20,000 people were present.

Last year the BBC reported that 60,000 marched in Manchester - at a time when the (then) Trade Union Bill posed an existential threat to the institions of our movement.

Now that we know that our unions are safe from bankruptcy (and merely neutralised as effective forces to reverse the declining living standards of our members) we mobilise fewer.

We need to (re)build the fight against austerity from the bottom up (which is why solidarity with school staff in Durham and Derby is now very much the order of the day).

Union activists must look to ourselves and our members locally to mobilise resistance - our movement nationally is still some years away from recovering from the consequences of the capitulation over public service pensions in 2011/12 (which prevented us from reversing the pay freeze).

National mobilisations - of which the next must be for libraries on 5 November - will continue to be important in bringing together local struggles and spreading resistance.

For we have no choice but to resist. As rank and file trade unionists we have nowhere else to go - and as local representatives each redundancy has, for us, a name, face and family.

We cannot afford to waste an ounce of the energy we need for this resistance upon futile hope of effective national leadership. In the long term perhaps we can transform our movement but for now we are on our own locally with only such aid as can come from solidarity shown elsewhere on the frontline of resistance.

These times call for the determination shown by Barnet UNISON, the militancy of Lambeth's library workers and the imagination of Haringey branch's fight for social care workers.

If our movement can be saved then it is in those local struggles that its salvation shall be found.

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