It is of no surprise that the Autumn Statement continues the austerity attack on workers and there is general cynicism by many about the trumpeting of ‘good’ economic news – an illusion for workers who have seen their income plummet.
However, there is still a patchy response by unions and workers in general to this. Workers are relieved to find themselves still in jobs, even on lower pay and eroded wages and conditions and are reluctant to understand that this process is part and parcel of a wider and longer term attack by capitalism and is massively damaging to both them and the British economy. Much of the attack through austerity measures is still to come and the consequences on, for example, councils and the NHS can already be seen and will have catastrophic in the next few years.
Some unions have still been plugging ahead with action on wages, pensions and conditions. UCU, Unison and Unite have recently held yet another day of action on the University campuses and UCU is working to contract. There is much unreported action by students at various universities. They are being attacked both physically and through arrests and suspensions for protesting about a variety of issues on their campuses, including outsourcing and threats to their union. NAPO has been trying to fight the privatisation of the probation service. The FBU continues to fight on pensions.
But there is much to be done. The new announcements on pensions, though yet to be turned into any law, shows us what is to come – back to a past era when workers worked until they dropped through sickness and poverty. Waiting hopefully for the election and Labour to be our saviour will be disasterous – we need to be setting an agenda for action now.