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Election campaigns :: General election
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As MPs move onto the general election campaign trail, increasing numbers of workers are moving onto the picket lines.
Literally days before polling day, there could be national strikes by postal workers and university lecturers and staff. McDonald's workers in south London have already been on strike. And workers on South Western Railway, and many others, will be also taking action in the coming days and weeks.
The right-wing Tory-supporting press are raging about workers having the effrontery to take strike action during the general election - adding the usual comments that strikers are out to ruin people's holidays and education.
But strikers struggling to get by on tight budgets aren't in the business of losing pay and standing in the cold for no good reason. These walkouts are the result of long-suffering workers saying "enough is enough" over the issues of falling wages, low pay, pension cuts, safety and working conditions, and bullying bosses.
The right-wing capitalist media sense that these disputes threaten to expose Boris Johnson's fake pro-worker populism.
This is the same party that, when in government, launched the biggest austerity offensive for a century - devastating public services, sacking a million public sector workers and inflicting a lost decade of wage cuts on those still in work.
Boris tries to portray himself as a 'fresh start', but as Tory London mayor he was a willing cutter of public services on behalf of his Bullingdon buddies Cameron and Osborne.
Never forget that, three years before the Grenfell Tower tragedy, he closed ten London fire stations with the loss of over 500 firefighter posts.
In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn must seize the chance to show how he is the real alternative for workers.
These disputes offer him the chance to present his anti-austerity, pro-worker programme of policies in the most concrete of ways. He could have a daily election press conference on each picket line!
He could talk about renationalising Royal Mail on a posties' picket, and how he will bring in a £10 minimum wage for all workers of all ages and scrap zero-hour contracts with the McDonald's workers.
He could promise to stop privatisation and to bring all outsourced workers in-house at a strike rally at three hospitals in Surrey and Berkshire who are taking action over being transferred out of the NHS.
He could not only stand with the university strikes, but announce a real above-inflation pay rise across the public sector and that university workers' pensions will be left alone. He could tell the RMT union pickets that all guards will be left on the train in a renationalised rail industry.
Corbyn has the opportunity to align himself with the workers in dispute and to hammer home what his programme would do to better workers' lives. He must embrace this fightback.
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Article dated 13 November 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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