Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Support Junior Doctors strike now

We are living at a potential critical moment in the history. The bankers brought the world to the precipice, but neoliberalism managed to put the brakes on before it fell into the abyss. But it was very very close.

I think we are certainly here in the UK at a pivotal moment whereby we could finally dump austerity and the enforced misery and brutality it has brought to millions in this country.

I want to give a massive show of respect and solidarity to a group of activists who have shown the trade unions just what is needed to highlight the serious harm being done through austerity policies to people with disabilities and their families and carers. The anti-austerity social movement now taking place simply would not have been here without the actions of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). I am proud that our Barnet UNISON branch took strike action and then joined DPAC outside the House of Commons on 8 July 2015 in response to George Osborne’s emergency budget. I can report that some of our unison members were shocked as to how the Police were handling people in wheelchairs. I know there are some who want to distance themselves from direct action DPAC take, but you have got to understand that DPAC have been providing countless evidence that people with disabilities are dying as a direct result of austerity.  At the end of last year the UK became the first country in the world to be investigated by the United Nations for grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights. This statement makes sobering reading but in my opinion we have DPAC to thank for helping expose the brutal reality of austerity for people with disabilities. 

Check out their website here for their #RightsNotGames week of action starting 4 -10 September

I’ve had enough of Austerity, I don’t know about anyone else but if I hear another politician trying to sell cuts as a way to improve services my head is going to spontaneously explode.

This is why I am taking personal responsibility for my actions.

There is an opportunity for change for millions if Jeremy is elected on 24 September.

Jeremy and his heroic team of MPs have kept anti austerity in the mainstream media despite the efforts of the 172 MPs. Their selfish actions which became public after Brexit have reinforced negative opinions of MPS as self-serving, out of touch and arrogant BUT they have also reinforced and enhanced the grassroots support for the politics being promoted by Jeremy and his team of MP’s.

Instead of the Labour Party disappearing into obscurity, it is rapidly growing and every time they attack Jeremy, more new members appear.

The time for the gravy train politicians and trade unions are over if we are truly to deal with the growing inequalities that are decimating our communities. This social movement is a massive wake up call for the establishment and that does include trade unions.

The establishment have responded by attacking Jeremy and his supporters relentlessly, but it appears to be backfiring.  

There are three things I would like to see happen in the next three weeks.

The first is that Jeremy is given a standing ovation at TUC conference this September. The TUC has under performed for decades, it needs to grasp this opportunity and tap into the energy being generated by Jeremy Corbyns campaign to reinvigorate the trade union movement. It needs to be a real leader of the labour movement. For decades it has presided over the dismantling of the trade union movement in the workplace. The rights of workers have eroded, collective bargaining almost all gone, membership down from 12 million to just over 6 million and the direction it takes now will define the trade union movement for a generation. It must surely be a wake-up call for everyone when trade unions try to defend themselves by claiming we don’t take much strike action especially after the last six years of austerity. The Trade Unions need to recognise Jeremy's message is resonating with workers. All of the general secretaries should go back to the roots of trade unionism and offer real solidarity to Jeremy and his team. The must now actively, publicly stand by him to rebut the heinous attacks being perpetrated by the establishment. Now is not the time to be a on the side-lines as a spectator, there is a war being waged against our members and public services. Jeremy is facing it and we as good union members need to stand should to shoulder with him and his team.
Second, the TUC needs to give unequivocal support for the junior doctors strike. More than that, they need to use all of their social media outlets to defend and publicise why we the public need to support the junior doctors. The junior doctors strike reminds me so much of the 1984/5 Miners Strike. We know what happened back then. The TUC turned their backs on the Miners. The consequences of that betrayal are being felt even now. Thatcher moved on from the Miners and took out many of the other big unions, anti-union laws were implemented, and collective bargaining was destroyed. Now we have low membership levels , zero hours, increased inequality, union reps targeted, blacklisting the list is pitiful. This must not be allowed to happen again. I want to hear speaker after speaker at TUC conference finds a way to bring the junior doctors strike onto the agenda. What I don’t want to hear is that if junior doctors turn up a TUC conference and for some bureaucratic reason they are not allowed in or address conference. But this is not enough all the trade unions that represent NHS workers which includes my union UNISON, must now organise a planning meeting with grassroots reps in the NHS whereby they can discuss how they can coordinate strike action with the junior doctors. NHS workers all know they are next, I am confident they would rather fight with the doctors than without them. Organising is not rocket science, you just need to listen and trust and resource the grassroots reps and membership. 

Lastly, on 24 September I want to hear that Jeremy has won leadership election. I am not complacent, so I am ignoring polls and will do everything I can to help ensure enough members vote for Jeremy. What happens next is critical. We need to mobilise immediately all those who have joined into an army of activists ready to work on the doorstep to elect Jeremy as Prime Minister. It is going to mean hard work, but we have an unstoppable social movement that has had enough of the spin and slick men or women in expensive designer suits. We have a massive job to dismantle austerity but we have 10 pledges with which to work on in discussions with family, friends, workplaces.

Often people, members, reps ask me where I get my energy to keep going, I don’t know but there has been a fire burning within me for a long time but for a brief while this year it almost burnt out. However the embers were still warm and the prospect of being able to be part of an anti-austerity social movement have reignited that flame within me , I'm even thinking of getting out the drum again even though it put my back out for a few days. 

I’m so up for this chance to be a small part of the history of our Labour movement. 

Are you?


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