There is an old socialist fable, about a man who has gone into work and noticed the bins had not been emptied and the floor had not been swept. The story continued with the bins not being emptied and the floors not swept the following day. On the third day, once again the bins were overflowing, and by now the floor really needed sweeping. So the man decided to go into the office and ask to see the manager and find out what was happening.
“Oh”, the manager’s secretary replied to the man’s question, “I’m afraid the manager has been away on a cruise for the last two weeks and is not due back for another fortnight. But I did mean to pass the message on that Janice the cleaner has sprained her ankle, and you will have to empty your own bins for a few days”.
The moral of this story is that when the boss is away work continues as normal and nobody notices the difference. However when the cleaner is away, the effect is immediately recognised.
But there is perhaps another moral which is extremely relevant to the weeks ahead and it is something we all need to reflect upon. That moral is the fate of this government is really in our hands, as we are ‘the cleaners’ and when our labour is not there, it certainly will be noticed.
This is why October 20th is so important. We need this to act as a catalyst for co-ordinated strike action as part of the process to topple this right wing ConDem government. No doubt such action will prove unpopular in the right wing gutter press and other elements within the media which prop up the establishment. But nevertheless we have to seize this opportunity and demand union leaders take such action, and ensure there is solidarity amongst the workers.
There is no doubt economic emotional blackmail will form part of the anti-strike campaign. We will be told strike action will drag the country deeper into recession; it will put more jobs at risk and bring greater hardship upon us. To answer this let’s look at the outcome of not striking? More job losses, more pay cuts or freezes, cutbacks in benefits, financial attacks on the most vulnerable in society, deterioration of the NHS. In other words things which will affect ordinary working people.....the millions and certainly not the millionaires. As for the recession getting worse if we strike, I have not seen the same argument being used by the right wing gutter press when company directors take their businesses overseas to exploit cheaper labour markets. In addition to this, how many jobs could be created through government investment in the ‘million green jobs’ initiative, to help drive this country out of recession? ‘They’ are responsible for the recession and not ‘us’ and to coin a phrase we are definitely not ‘all in this together’.
If we fight this government through strike action, civil disobedience and if necessary other forms of non-violent direct action we have a chance of preserving and protecting jobs and the services ordinary folk rely upon.
What is needed is to strike a massive blow towards those at the top, one which will be so powerful it will bring this rotten system to an end. Here I may differ from many of those in the Trade Union movement who simply wish to replace one capitalist regime with another in the form of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party. There are still some good people in the Labour Party, but its leadership would simply deliver a form of anesthetised austerity with cutbacks which again will hit ordinary people, whilst the millionaires escape paying their fair share.
If we can bring this right wing coalition tumbling down, this will simply be the first skirmish in what we need to ensure is an ongoing campaign for social, economic and environmental justice. The red flag of peace, equality, fairness and socialism is no longer enough if we do not also grasp the green nettle of ecology and forge an ecosocialist future for our country, one which will act as a beacon to others throughout the world
However we have to begin this process somewhere, and October 20 is an opportunity for us to begin this process. If we are indeed the ‘cleaners’ in the socialist fable, then we need to take this opportunity to sweep this rotten pile of capitalist rubbish from government.
By Rick Heyse
Torbay Green Party & South West England & Cornwall Green Left