THE BLOG
19/12/2013 10:19 GMT | Updated 18/02/2014 05:59 GMT

All I Want for Christmas is a General Strike

Well, it's that time of year again. The kids are off school and, with Santa's visit just days away, they're on their best behaviour. Presents have been bought and decorations have been put up so now it's time to sit down, have a mug of hot chocolate and tell you my Christmas wish.

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Obligatory Christmas pic

It has been a difficult year. 2013 will be remembered as the year that the Tories inflicted torment and debt onto the masses. We've seen the bedroom tax, benefit cuts, incomes falling while inflation and cost of inflation skyrocketing, throwing good people into the clutches of poverty. We see energy company's profits soaring while the poor being forced to choose between heating or eating.

I suppose that I am being selfish with my Christmas wish. I probably should wish for a peaceful world or for a world without hunger but what I really want for Christmas is a General Strike.

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A General Strike, or a 'super strike', is when there is co-ordinated industrial action across the whole of the UK by most, if not all, trade unions. There has only ever been one General Strike in the history of the UK and the reasons for that General Strike has some striking similarities to the economic strife that we face at present.

The General Strike of 1926 lasted ten days. It was called by the TUC in an attempt to force the UK Government to act against reducing wages and worsening conditions for miners. The TUC complained of the 'subsidised mineower' while the Daily Mail tarred the strikers as revolutionist intend on smashing the Government. "A general strike is not an industrial dispute. It is a revolutionary move which can only succeed by destroying the government and subverting the rights and liberties of the people" The 1.7 million strikers found support from King George V who said, "Try living on their wages before you judge them."


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Dock workers on strike in 1926


The strike ended when Trade Union laws were changed so that the Trade Union would be liable to criminal and civil proceedings and faced potential sequestration of their assets. The TUC then called off the strike. Ernest Bevin, that man who co-ordinated the strike, considered the General Strike to be a mistake. He believed action using political parties would be a better solution. Mr Bevin may be correct but now that we are seeing the formal link between trade unions and the Labour party dissolving what other options do the trade union movement have to influence politics?

A General Strike is perhaps the only tool that the electorate and trade unions have to bring about political change. It would attack what the Tories cherish the most: Profits. It would grind UK plc (I hate that term) to a standstill, heaping untold and unmanageable pressures onto the Westminster Government.

I believe that the majority of the public would support widespread and co-ordinated action by the trade union movement. This proactive step would empower the trade union membership while unifying grassroots campaigns.

Trade Unions are held in very high regard by political activists. These behemoths have the resources and legitimacy to unify the fragmented political landscape so that we all fight under the banner of the trade union movement.

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Scaremongers would have us believe that a General Strike would be illegal in the UK but experts disagree. Nick Chronias, industrial relations expert at the international firm DAS Beechcroft, issued guidance stating that, "Workers have a right to strike under the freedom of association enshrined in the Humans Rights Act" and that trade union lawyers can continually argue that the UK's present laws are 'too restrictive' and that 'our strike laws are also inconsistent with international labour standards, to which the UK has to adhere'.

Without intervention by the trade union movement, the future of the UK is bleak. The country will be run on the INEOs model where massive corporations have full control and power of the workers while relying of taxpayer's subsidies to swell their profits. A country where companies go on strike to blackmail workers and the nation into accepting working conditions.

As the great man says:"We're not rats. We're human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement."

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Merry Christmas!