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Towards a mass strike

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There are times, decades even, when events drag and nothing seems to happen, and there are weeks and months when history seems to leap forward. There can be no question that the announcement, by a host of public sector unions, at September's TUC conference of plans for a one-day strike on 30 November marks a sharp escalation in the class struggle in Britain

The decision by more unions to ballot their members over the assault on pensions and coordinate a strike with the four unions that struck on 30 June means that up to 3 million workers could strike together in what is effectively a public sector general strike.

Pension Battles

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The autumn is likely to see a renewal of strikes over the assault on public sector pensions. Charlie Kimber looks at the pressures on the big unions to join the fight.

The coalition's assault on the pensions of public sector workers is the most direct and concentrated aspect of its war to make ordinary people pay the cost of bailing out the bosses and the bankers. It is, of course, part of a much wider strategy, involving not just the £81 billion of public spending cuts but also a reshaping of the whole of British society in the interests of capital and profit. And the pensions attack goes alongside a vicious offensive against benefits, jobs and services everywhere.

In the spotlight

The minority movement

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As major industrial struggle seems set to make a return to Britain, Dave Sherry looks at the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary left during the period of intense class conflict which gripped Britain between the end of the First World War and the General Strike of 1926

In 1920 the best parts of the revolutionary left came together to form the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). It was soon put to the test.

Its first big challenge was the relationship between the "official" and "unofficial" wings of the trade union movement and how to work both with and against a newly emerging group of leftwing officials in the face of a deep recession and a vicious state offensive.

United in struggle

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Despite the huge outcry following the multi-billion pound bank bailouts, the mainstream parties still thought they could win support competing over who could make the deepest cuts to the public sector.

How can we build the strength and unity to resist the coming attacks? We could take the strategy used in Ireland, where the unions went along with the cuts despite popular anger. Or we can build on the Greek strategy, where outrage has been galvanised by the rank and file, forcing unions to call general strikes.

Following January's Right to Work (RTW) national conference in Manchester, 30 people who attended from Edinburgh returned to build a local rank and file campaign of solidarity and resistance.

Brown's Britain: the faultlines deepen

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Recent months have seen fierce industrial disputes, with workers challenging the government and the bosses. Michael Bradley argues that this resistance can shape a future fightback

Photo: Guy Smallman

We're moving into a new phase of the struggle. Over the last couple of years we have gone through several distinct stages. First was the onset of the recession in 2008 which effectively knocked sideways the pay revolt in the public sector. Secondly, after a series of horrible defeats like the job losses at Woolworths and Cowley, we saw the development of a movement of working class resistance.

Trade unions - the need for unity and fightback

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The scale of the crisis, and the avalanche of job losses, underlines the need for the working class to fight. This is why it was so disappointing to see two unions that have led the resistance, the teachers' NUT and the civil service's PCS, turn away from strikes earlier this month.

The immediate issue at stake was a response to Gordon Brown's pay curbs in the public sector. The NUT executive decided that a 52 percent vote for action was not enough. Within hours, the government had authorised talks with the PCS over the pay issues which led to a strike planned for 10 November. Again, the executive decided to suspend action.

In both cases Socialist Workers Party members on the executives voted for strikes, against the majority.

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