On Wednesday 1 February half a million workers are preparing to strike—and it could be more. It’s up to every activist and every campaigner to build the action and make it as militant as possible.
They have to push the union leaders for militant action, and organise from below when they don’t move.
It’s a day for action over pay, and against anti-union laws. And the target is the Tories—with their added corruption after the recent revelations.
Be bold, think big, organise for militancy—all power to initiative and imagination. That is the starting point. Make it a day where activists try to detonate a step change in the level of resistance
If you’re in one of the sectors that you know are coming out on strike
Start organising now to involve everyone on the day—picketing, rallying, marching. Have a meeting at the start of the picket and at the end to discuss the strikes and the next steps. Pickets are to stop workers going in, whether they are in your union or not.
Think of local workplaces you could visit now to encourage them to do something on the day. Perhaps you can arrange to march to them at some point and get them to come out for 15 minutes—or for the day.
In many areas unions have organised marches. These need to be based on the strikers, and not bureaucratically imposed by TUC bodies. The demo demands should be about the pay fight and the strikes, as well as the defence of union rights.
Push your local, regional and national union leaders to announce joint marches with others on strike, and to open them to the widest range of workers and campaigns. If union leaders don’t call them speedily, then organise them from the base of the unions, through strike solidarity groups, trade councils, strikers’ social media groups and more.
If you’re in one of the sectors that hasn’t officially been called out on strike
Call a meeting in your workplace to discuss what action you can take even if there isn’t an official call. Get in speakers from unions that are already striking. Look for local marches you could join.
The aim should be to win strikes, whether there has been a ballot or not. Can you agree not to cross picket lines?
If you’re an anti-racist, a climate campaigner, an anti-poverty activist, for women’s and LGBT+ liberation, in Extinction Rebellion or Just Stop Oil organise now to be on the demos. And bring your militancy to the protests.
Wherever you are start discussing the follow-up to 1 February.
After we strike together, step up the fight in every dispute
It’s very positive that unions are striking on the same day. But activists need to make sure it’s the beginning of a process, not the end of one. It must not become an alibi for reining in the individual strikes or failing to escalate them.
The union leaders are still calling stop-start action that hasn’t broken through against ruthless bosses and the government. They have kept the NHS strikes separate from the 1 February action. Such a strategy weakens everyone.
There are rumours of another day of united strikes on 15 March, when the government sets its budget. It would be good to see millions out that day.
But we won’t win unless there are escalating strikes in all the sectors that are fighting now—and others that can join them. That’s how to win over pay and stop the bosses’ drive to impose horrendous new productivity drives and job cuts.
The union leaders also think they can beat new anti-union laws by operating within the limits set by the present ones—which rule out political strikes. It’s an illusion.
The strikes on 1 February need to be part of a process of breaking open a new level for resistance.
Who’s out on the day—so far
Each of these strikes is over specific demands about pay and conditions. But they have united on the day of action over anti-union laws.
Around 300,000 teachers in the NEU union at 23,400 schools in England and Wales plus at sixth form colleges in England
100,000 civil service workers in the PCS union across Britain
70,000 university workers in the UCU union at 150 institutions across Britain
15,000 train drivers in the Aslef union at 15 train operating companies
Several thousand workers made up of train drivers in the RMT union, teachers in the EIS union at two Scottish councils, Abellio bus workers and others