A clarion call was made today (Monday 9 September) to wage war against the grim politics of austerity by Unite, the country’s largest union.
Unite executive director of policy Steve Turner told the TUC at Bournemouth that there needed to be a mass mobilisation, including peaceful civil disobedience, across the UK “to inspire a generation”.
He was speaking to the Unite motion on anti-austerity campaigning which called for the reaffirmation that mass industrial action to oppose the cuts and the wrecking of the welfare state is a legitimate option, including a nationwide march against poverty in 2014.
Steve Turner said: “We are the seventh richest nation on our planet. And if we have got money to propose war on Syria, we’ve got money to wage war on food banks; to put our people back to work; our children into school and university – not debt and despair – and to provide dignity for our elderly.
“It is up to us – not just to fight back industrially, but to build a mass movement, by building a social consensus, a coalition for change, amongst organised and unorganised workers, campaign groups, the People’s Assembly, churches and charities, as well as direct action and grassroots organisations.”
He said that the motion “commits us to fighting back – industrially where possible – but more than that, it commits us to organise a mass mobilisation.
“Supporting the fantastic work of the People’s Assembly and the national protest on 5 November.”
He called for “a day of peaceful civil disobedience – of local action in towns and cities across our nation.”
He castigated the government which had created the conditions for five million to be on social housing waiting lists; two-and-a half million without a job, and 400,000 using food banks every week.
He derided the government’s so-called ‘We are all in it together’ claim.
He said: “Tell that to the millions of workers’ whose living standards continue to fall in what is the longest period of decline since the 1870s.
“All that we hold dear is under threat and it’s on our watch. We have a responsibility to provide hope and inspiration in place of fear and despair.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.