Brexit has not brought an easy time for workers. With Brexit came greater deregulation and wage cuts through sacking or hire and fire in the private and public sectors. These attacks started during covid and accelerated after Brexit. As a result of sackings, wage freezes and bad conditions there have been many strikes in 2021 despite union leaderships reluctance to fight.
Martin Ralph – ISL/Britain
During COP26, 800 bin and refuse workers shut down Glasgow cleansing services over pay and anger at the lack of investment. The GMB union leadership had called off the strike, but workers forced it back on.
RMT rail workers fought Scotrail for six months with strike action every Sunday, and in September, 84% of workers backed an all-out strike. Unite, TSSA and ASLEF unions gave in, but the 2000 RMT members continued until the management gave in.
In November, RMT (rail) members working for the Serco-run Caledonian Sleeper service began the first of a series of 48-hour strikes over pay.
In October, Gwent (South Wales) Stagecoach workers had six days of strike action, demanding a £1 increase on their £9.50 an hour pay. Bus workers strike against sacking was successful in Manchester. And in the North-East, Newcastle and area, 800 bus workers voted for 12 strike days over pay for November and December.
Education strikes in universities, colleges and schools in London, Liverpool, Brighton and other cities, some were extended industrial action, fought compulsory redundancies, wages and victimisation of union reps with some victories.
ALL-OUT strike by 100 Clarks Warehouse workers at Street in Somerset against a vicious ‘fire and rehire’ attack is in its sixth week. The first all-out in rural Somerset strike since 1986.
United Voices of the World, a union for precarious workers fought for pay increases, have taken strike action at the Sage Nursing Home (over poverty wages) and security guards are balloting at Great Ormond Street Hospital for equal rights. Most of these workers are Black or ethnic minority workers.
Refuse collectors strike against Green Party-led Brighton Hove City Council gained a £4k wage increase.
Tories give nothing to workers
British capitalism is paralysed by problems such as Covid, Gas, the lack of workers because the only solution is social ownership and control, but Brexit was not intended for that but the opposite – ever greater deregulation and privatisation.
There is discontent and strikes across Britain, and it is growing. Austerity never went away. Brexit was a capitalist way out of the EU and not a workers way. The economic problems facing capitalism will mean more attacks on private and public sector workers and the many middle-class sections.
The government and capitalism have no intention of solving the climate crisis. For example, nearly all public transport is in private hands. Their interest is in attacking workers and making a profit. The same question surrounds UK Brexit and the EU – make a profit and a few lavish junkets about the climate.
Many on the left talk about going back into the EU, but the EU is no democratic body and applies its policy of monopoly across its members’ states for the benefit of Germany and France. That is one reason why there are more strikes in Italy than in Britain. The Italian government and the EU worked to break up Alitalia and carried that through, but the resistance in Italy is growing.
As workers build their strikes in the UK build links with other workers nationally and internationally in struggle is vital to plan coordinated action. Let’s support and build united action with European workers against the employers, the governments of the UK and the EU.
Only in this way can we say many workers were right to vote to leave the EU. We have to build a united struggle of British workers against the Tories not to go back into the EU but in alliance with European workers who are fighting their government and EU dictates.
Tory Brexit is used to try to make a path towards greater profit. But only a socialist solution of workers control and a workers government brought about by mass struggle can resolve the burning questions that Covid, climate change, public services and Brexit brings up.