|SocialismToday Socialist Party magazine|
Issue 172 October 2013
Questions on the prospects for struggle
Hannah Sell in her article about Britain makes many valid points concerning the need for a 24-hour general strike and its far-reaching consequences.
However, I think that it would be a mistake to argue for a 24-hour general strike solely on the basis of opposing the government’s austerity programme. As the article on the election campaign of Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council says, Kshama is calling for a citywide $15 an hour minimum wage, rent control, and a tax on millionaires.
Similarly, the call for a 24-hour general strike in Britain should include the demand for a £10 an hour national minimum wage, rent control, and a tax on millionaires.
Hannah correctly points out many of the failings of the right-wing trade union leaders. However, the article has little to say regarding how they can be replaced.
At the same time, it says that there are many low paid super-exploited workers such as cleaners, caterers and retail workers that have never been touched by the union movement. The service industries these workers work in are mainly covered by USDAW. Unfortunately, as pointed out by the late Robbie Segal (a Socialist Party member who was on the USDAW national executive) in her USDAW pamphlet, the union’s bureaucracy are right-wing supporters of New Labour.
However, whilst I would like to help recruit workers in my local branches of McDonald’s, KFC, Poundland, Wetherspoons, Argos, Boots etc to USDAW, I am just an isolated individual. I would therefore be interested to hear what Socialism Today has to say regarding the role of socialists in building and re-building the trade unions?
At the same time, whilst Hannah mentions the sterling work of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), would she agree that it is necessary to build local broad lefts? Would Socialism Today agree that the demand for a £10 an hour national minimum wage is a key organising demand for the trade union movement and would act as a ‘wedge issue’ in putting both Ed Miliband and David Cameron on the spot?
Finally, the article does not mention the potential lumpenisation of the one million young people not in education, employment or training. How can this lumpenisation of young people be prevented from occurring?
John Smithee, Cambridgeshire