Last Saturday saw demonstrations across the country in support of striking workers, and in protest against the escalating cost-of-living crisis. With the Tories and their system in meltdown, the stage is set for a bitter winter of discontent.
October has truly started with a bang.
The cost-of-living crisis is deepening, with energy bills going up from the first of the month, to double the level of one year ago.
And after a brief pause following the Queen’s passing, the trade union movement is mobilising again, with strikes popping off across industry.
Britain is now seeing its very own ‘striketober’, with rail and postal workers resuming their struggles; dockers bringing ports to a standstill in Liverpool and Felixstowe; and university staff shutting down campuses for the start of the new academic year.
Last Saturday, 1 October, saw mass coordinated action between the unions, with all of these workers out on the same day.
The RMT, ASLEF, and TSSA rail unions were striking together, paralysing Britain’s train network. CWU members at Royal Mail were undertaking the second of two days of strike action. And dock workers were also forming picket lines, blocking off the country’s busiest port.
At the same time, rallies were organised by the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign in around 50 cities and towns across the country, with thousands taking to the streets in support of striking workers, and against the Tories and bosses.
This follows on from a tour of ‘Enough is Enough’ events in recent weeks, with huge crowds in attendance, showing the anger and energy that exists amongst workers and youth.
As the reports below show, Socialist Appeal activists were out in force on Saturday, joining the picket lines and local rallies, and calling for clear socialist policies to tackle capitalism’s crises.
In many places, comrades were speaking from the microphone, putting forward bold demands for nationalisation and workers’ control, in order to stop the capitalists’ profiteering, and to instead plan the economy in the interests of the working class.
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Comrades also raised the need for the current action to escalate and broaden out into a mass campaign that can bring down the Tories, and ultimately overthrow the whole bosses’ system.
Militant trade union leaders have correctly described the situation as ‘class war’. The task now is to get organised, armed with socialist policies, and fight to defeat our enemies – the Tories and their capitalist chums – once and for all.
We urge you to join us in this fight: the fight for revolution.
UEA Marxists and @NorwichMarxists out today for an amazing rally by enough is enough. Hundreds of people out to demand better conditions and victory to the unions out on strike! #EnoughIsEnough pic.twitter.com/Rtgu0upub4
— UEA Marxist Society (@UEAMarxists) October 1, 2022
Around 5,000 gathered at the RMT picket outside Kings Cross station last Saturday, rallying in support of striking workers and against the cost-of-living crisis.
Speakers ranged from grassroots activists; to left-wing MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn, Apsana Begum, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy; to leading figures from the trade union movement, including Dave Ward, Jo Grady, and Kevin Courtney – general secretaries of the CWU, UCU, and NEU respectively.
Around 40 Socialist Appeal and Marxist Student activists from across the city joined the protest, putting forward revolutionary demands.
We joined workers and students at Kings Cross, while coordinated strike action and solidarity protests took place in cities all over the UK!
— Greenwich Marxist Society (@Greenwich_Marx) October 2, 2022
Speaker after speaker emphasised that enough truly is enough. The working class are once again being presented with the bill for capitalism’s crises, while the bosses rake it in.
Eddie Dempsey of the RMT emphasised the potential strength and power of the working class. If the billionaires stayed in bed one morning, he noted, the country would still function. But when workers stay at home, it is a very different story.
Jo Grady also shared horror stories from higher education. While students are facing £60,000+ of debt, some university staff are having to call in sick – unable to afford the bus fare as a result of their poverty wages.
It was evident that those attending this demonstration understand that the Enough is Enough campaign cannot be limited to just supporting workers on strike.
The biggest cheers from the crowd were heard when speakers spoke not about tinkering around the edges of society, but made the case for a wholesale transformation.
One activist spoke about the role of capitalism in the hunger crisis facing many working-class families. Others emphasised the need for nationalisation of the railways, energy companies, and Royal Mail.
Unsurprisingly, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch received a hero’s welcome.
The rail union leader correctly argued that the labour movement must not only take inspiration from movements around the world, such as the current protests of women and youth in Iran, but must also fight back against any attempts by the Tories and the capitalist media to pit workers against each other.
“We are the working class and we are back,” Lynch boldly asserted. “The fight of the Enough is Enough campaign is one to change the country.”
We would go a step further and say: it must be a fight to overthrow the rotten capitalist system.
Over 1,000 working people packed the street around the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall steps last Saturday, showing their support for striking railway and postal workers, and rallying against the cost-of-living crisis.
Early in the day, workers had stood together on picket lines once more, demanding an end to the decade-long attack on pay and conditions, and calling for a new pay deal that matches rising living costs.
From the Baird Street Royal Mail office and Central Station, groups of CWU and RMT members led feeder marches down Glasgow’s main thoroughfares.
With trade union flags and banners held high, and loud chants echoing off the walls, it was a magical moment when the two groups converged on Buchanan Street.
Marching with @CwuScotlandNo2 down to the @eieglasgow rally earlier today. Big solidarity vibes, massive mood for a fightback from Glasgow’s working class. Lets keep building this movement, and fight to get the greedy bosses off our backs! ✊? pic.twitter.com/g08GXIr9oo
— Glasgow Marxists (@GlasgowMarxists) October 1, 2022
The mood of excitement and optimism was clear from then onwards, as the crowd responded with cheers and chants to every speaker.
Representatives from the main trade unions on strike over the last week – including the RMT, CWU, Unison, and others – spoke to the crowd of workers and youth, alongside campaigners from Living Rent, Power to the People (a group focussed on energy bills), and Football Fans Supporting Foodbanks.
A class appeal has defined much of the Enough is Enough campaign so far. And Saturday’s rally in Glasgow was no different. Every speaker concluded by emphasising that each particular fight is only a part of a much wider struggle of the whole working class.
The ongoing collapse of Truss’ Tories only added to the defiant mood. While each industrial dispute rolls on, with little sign of concession from the bosses, seeing workers coming together in united, coordinated actions like this gave activists confidence that this could be a turning point.
One thing must be made clear: this is a class war – and the enemy is not just Truss and the Tories, but the capitalist system as a whole.
If the working class is to be victorious, it must strike back as one, united force, and be prepared to go all the way to the end – kicking out the bosses once and for all, and setting out on the path of socialist revolution.
Comrades from Revolutionary Students and the International Marxist Tendency joined the ‘strike together’ event in Edinburgh last Saturday to show support for striking rail workers and train drivers.
Railway unions ASLEF and the RMT were taking joint strike action on 1 October against the private rail companies, who have refused to offer even the bare minimum of a pay rise matching inflation.
CWU members at Royal Mail joined in showing their “mutual solidarity”. Postal workers were also striking on Saturday in an ongoing dispute over attacks on wages and conditions.
From here, comrades went to join the End Fuel Poverty Coalition rally outside the UK government’s Edinburgh headquarters at Queen Elizabeth House.
Both demonstrations had around 200-300 people in attendance, most of which were from unions and activist groups. The mood was very militant, with class-based demands put forward by almost all speakers.
One of our comrades gave the final speech at the End Fuel Poverty rally. They received huge cheers from the crowd in response to their calls for a general strike, for wage rises linked to inflation, and for nationalisation of the big monopolies without compensation.
Our comrades joined thousands of workers at rallies in Glasgow and Edinburgh today to protest the capitalist cost-of-living crisis & demand a real fightback led by the working class. #Solidarity #EnoughIsEnough pic.twitter.com/foatcQChc1
— Revolution Scotland (@RevolutionScot) October 1, 2022
Ordinary people have had enough of seeing bosses rewarding themselves with gold-plated salaries and bonuses, while expecting workers to take real-term wage cuts.
The only way forward is coordinated action to unite the struggles: not only amongst workers within one union, but between unions also, as part of a mass campaign to bring down the Tories and the bosses’ system.
- Victory to the workers!
- Unite and fight to defeat the bosses!
- Join the struggle against capitalism – and for socialism in our lifetime!
On Saturday, local trade unionists, campaigners, and activists marched through Ipswich town centre and held a rally on the steps of the town hall, speaking out against the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The day began with a visit to Felixstowe port to join the picket and support the dockers in their second round of strike action.
The mood was one of defiance, with workers speaking highly of the simultaneous action taking place amongst dockers in Liverpool, and also noting the solidarity by dock workers in Southampton.
Comrades then headed to the train station, joining the ASLEF and RMT strikers, before marching to the nearby CWU picket line outside the Royal Mail sorting office.
At each stop, trade unionists and locals joined the march, en route to the town hall.
The rally, organised by both the Ipswich & District Trades Council and Socialist Appeal Ipswich, featured speeches by representatives from the CWU and PCS unions, and from Unite members involved in the Felixstowe strike.
Also speaking was a comrade from Socialist Appeal, who emphasised the need for the trade union movement to link together different disputes with a bold socialist programme that can tackle the root of the cost-of-living crisis.
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“Rallies like the one today need to be the opening act of a mass campaign,” the comrade stressed, “showing the bosses who really holds the power in society. Is it us or them?”
Our message of kicking out the Tories, and the profit system they represent, struck a chord with all those gathered.
“The bosses have thrown down the gauntlet,” the comrade concluded. “They say it’s class war, and we agree. Let’s step up our fight, and make sure we win that war. Because when we get organised, and strike in unison against this rotten system, there is no force that can stop us”.
In Leicester, there was a good turnout of picketers for the postal and railway strikes on Saturday.
Socialist Appeal comrades attended in support, striking up conversations with both new faces and those recognised from previous strike days.
We heard reports on the picket lines that a number of CWU reps in some of the best organised workplaces in the country had been suspended by Royal Mail bosses on spurious charges.
The only way to fight these suspensions is on the basis of militant action, and for the rest of the labour movement to offer their full solidarity.
At the Enough is Enough rally later in the day, our stall and paper was well received, with people going out of their way to buy a copy of Socialist Appeal.
Overall, it was a successful day of heightened industrial action, public protest, and interest in Marxist ideas – all positive signs of the radicalisation of the working class in Leicester and beyond.
On 1 October, Socialist Appeal comrades from across the North East attended the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle.
Rally speakers and organisers put forward a range of slogans and demands, calling for the working class to stand together in the fight against the Tories and bosses.
And there was a clear radical mood amongst those that we spoke to, with members of the public approaching us to buy the Socialist Appeal paper and other material, and to ask how they can get involved.
The large crowds, militant mood, and energetic enthusiasm on display at these protests are likely to be only a taste of what will develop over the coming months, as the crisis of capitalism deepens, and workers and youth mobilise and move into action.
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Speeches at the Nottingham ‘Enough is Enough’ rally were noticeably bolder compared to those seen at other demonstrations in recent years.
There were calls to nationalise the energy sector, for example, with speakers noting that high costs aren’t just due to the war, but are the result of the greed of the private companies that dominate the sector.
Explicit criticism was also made of the austerity put through by the local Labour council, with activists calling for workers to fight the cuts with industrial action.
— Nottingham Marxist Society (@NottsMarxists) October 2, 2022
One organiser called for a public sector wide strike, and even a general strike. Another stated that there is a need to fight against international capitalism. All of this received cheers from the crowd.
This shows the radicalisation taking place amongst the rank and file of the trade union movement, which is pulling the leadership to the left with them.
What is needed now is a genuinely revolutionary perspective to show the way forward.
The ‘Enough is Enough’ rally in Southampton saw around 70 people gathered in Guildhall Square, alongside a rally in solidarity with the Iranian people.
There was a great mood and energy. Trade unionists from the CWU and Unite spoke about local and national disputes, and other socialists spoke about the political bankruptcy of the Tories and Starmer’s Labour – all to applause from the audience.
Three comrades from Socialist Appeal went up to speak about the NHS, the education system, and coordination of strikes, respectively.
Comrades emphasised the need for mass united action to overthrow the Tories. We also stressed the need for clear socialist demands, including the expropriation of the banks and major monopolies.
The enthusiastic reception that these contributions received from the crowd show the thirst for revolutionary socialist ideas amongst workers and youth.
The ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign reached Portsmouth recently, with a rally of around 100 people on 27 September, followed by a demonstration last Saturday.
Speakers at the rally included a couple of full-time officials from the RMT and CWU, along with a lay official from the UCU in Chichester, who will be on strike next week.
The demonstration and march last Saturday saw about 350 people in attendance. This was the largest protest in Portsmouth since 2011, with a layer of new activists joining and marching through the shopping centre, receiving a warm reception from shoppers.
When the march returned to Guildhall Square, it was addressed by various speakers, including the leader of the Labour group in the local city council, who pledged to vote against any austerity measures.