90 years since the 1926 General Strike – learn the lessons to fight back!
NINETY years ago today, millions of workers were taking part in the General Strike to defend the miners from a brutal Tory government. The NSSN along with militant unions has championed the idea of generalised strike action to face down Tory austerity and their planned anti-union laws.
The PCS National Vice-President John McInally celebrates the 1926 General Strike and draws out the lessons for today’s generation of trade union fighters:
'The 90th anniversary of the general strike of 1926 allows us to reflect on the potential of the working class through their own organisations - the trade unions - to organise and fight back against attacks on their terms and conditions.
'But the current generation of conservative union leaders will also no doubt use this anniversary to expound a defeatist narrative, best expressed at the 2012 TUC Congress during a debate on the feasibility of calling a general strike, that “..we tried that once and it didn’t work”. This cynical, ignorant statement seeks to re-write history as a series of defeats to prove industrial action is pointless and that gains made through generations of struggle were actually gifted to us by a munificent ruling class.
'In fact in 1972 the very threat of a general strike forced the government to resurrect archaic legal procedures in order to release jailed Dockers from Pentonville prison. In 2011 public sector workers saw a glimpse of their massive latent strength during the two million strong N30 pensions strike that was sold out by cynical “leaders” who choreographed a “settlement” with Tory ministers that robbed them of pension rights. The 1984-85 Miners strike is also cited as “proof” that struggle is useless and only “diplomatic” entreaties can restrain the bosses from implementing the worst aspects of a never-ending race to the bottom. But with solidarity action from the rest of the union movement, Thatcher could have been defeated then.
'Leadership now as then is critical. In 1926, the Daily Mail accurately described the general strike as a “revolutionary move” but with the purpose of frightening the Labour Party and union leaders, which it did.
'Jeremy Hunt’s imposition of unacceptable contracts on junior doctors is a key stage in privatising our National Health Service and he seeks to intimidate them but also warn off right-wing union leaders by claiming the strikers aim to overthrow the government.
'My union PCS along with the Fire Brigades Union called on the TUC general council to call a day of action in support of the junior doctors. The TUC must, as a matter of priority, reconsider their decision not to support this call.
'The real lesson of the general strike is not that we can’t win but with determined leadership, workers can secure priceless victories.'