In a little over a week’s time on the 30th of June there will be a general strike over public sector pensions. We are told that some 750,000 public sector workers will take part from unions including the PCS, the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lectures and the University and College Union.
There has been perhaps some hyperbole over the scale of the action, but they nevertheless represent a significant raising of the stakes in the ongoing battle between the coalition government and the unions (and others).
Whether the strikes are necessary, beneficial and justified are for another page but one thing that does stand out is that strike action alone will not be enough. Strikes get the attention of the public, but not always their support. There is inevitably inconvenience to the public and this does tend to diminish sympathy for the strikes and those on them.
More importantly strike action can only ever be short term and therefore of limited impact. These strikes seem unlikely to be long lived enough to force the government to back down.
Finally and perhaps most importantly of all, the strikes seem to assume that the government is acting out of some kind of malice – a bunch of Tories drinking brandies and smoking cigars while the working class suffers.
In truth though, this government, like those before it, is actually not really in a position to choose all that much. Global competitive pressure creates a race to the bottom in which every government must act to keep ‘costs’ as low as possible in order to remain competitive.
What is needed then is a way to change the global system so that we can, in turn change our national systems. All of this we must achieve without endlessly inconveniencing and irritating the public and without putting public services at risk. We must use democracy to drive forward a more just and sustainable agenda. How do we do this?
Simpol offers a genuine democratic means to drive forward that very agenda and drive the politicians to accept it by coordinated use of our votes – the most basic of all democratic tools.
In addition, since Simpol is open to all and it is the people who create the Simultaneous Policy agenda it is of no inconvenience or irritation to anybody.
This article is not intended to unfairly criticise the J30 actions or to claim that they are unjustified or wrong. It is simply to point out that actions such as these must be combined with a more long term solution that includes everybody and excludes n0-one.