THE gathering storm of anger and resistance by multiple sections of workers, facing crucifying cuts to their living standards, is mounting pressure on union leaderships for coordinated, unified action.

“We’re all in this together” has gone from being a malicious deceit in the mouths of Tory politicians during the pandemic – when in real, class-ridden life, profits skyrocketed as workers suffered pay cuts – to a genuine feeling of common interest between workers of vastly varied occupations.

The multi-union Scottish Workers Solidarity Network was established in December 2020, as a self-described “forum for fighters”, to actively build solidarity with any and all workers in struggle, publicise their case, mobilise for events, and seek to win coordinated actions by the leaderships of Scottish unions and the STUC.

After millions experienced the pandemic, workers have gained renewed self-worth, and seen through the profiteering by billionaires and big business, as pay plummets at the fastest rate on record.

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Profits for the FTSE 350 biggest companies have boomed by 73% since Covid.

Wages have suffered the longest, deepest stagnation since the days of the Peterloo Massacre, in 1819, when the employing class unleashed military violence against early trade union pioneers rallying for the right to vote and change their working lives.

Increasingly, workers recognise the attacks on pay, jobs and public services – to boost a wealth transfusion to profit – as a planned, coordinated class war by the employers and their Tory guardians.

When British Gas bosses unleashed ‘fire and rehire’ tactics to slash wages and conditions, we warned they weren’t alone; this was the new pandemic.

The subsequent capitalist thuggery of P&O bosses, firing 800 ferry workers by video message, drew crocodile tears from the Tory government – who proceeded to enact new laws to legalise precisely such thuggish replacement of workers by low-paid agency staff!

Thankfully, it’s not all a tale of woe and helplessness. Workers are getting up off their knees, fighting back against this onslaught, after decades of being cowed by the mantra that “there’s nothing you can do about poverty pay; the most repressive anti-union laws in the western world; the rampant disease of insecure jobs”.

Strikes by railway workers have lifted millions to their feet, with renewed confidence we don’t need to take this lying down. BT workers gained equally widespread public support – because millions suffer the same material conditions of pay plunging as prices and profits soar skywards.

Legions of others are poised to take strike action – the most elementary right of withdrawing our labour, which distinguishes the modern wage-slave of capitalism from the literal slave of past millennia.

Workers in Councils, airports, Glasgow Underground, NHS, schools, BT, Royal Mail and the civil service are just some of those about to strike, or voting on it.

Over the past 20 months, the Solidarity Network has been at the heart of building support for workers in British Gas, FE colleges, the NHS, railways, ferries, BT, Royal Mail, Equal Pay, McVities biscuit factory, and latterly the railways. We have been pivotal, in collaboration with the RMT, in building demos against the P&O cowboys at Cairnryan and their agency supply companies.

Throughout June and July, the Network has persistently advocated two key proposals in response to the generalised attacks on workers: for a union-led mass Scottish demo in September, in solidarity with all those striking, as we also face crucifying hikes to household energy bills; and for union leaderships to maximise the impact by coordinating strike actions, including the possibility of a 24-hour general strike.

We’ve raised that rallying cry in speeches at numerous rallies and demonstrations, warmly received by strikers and their allies, who see the value of workers presenting a united front in resistance to the combined front of the profiteers and their Tory mouthpieces.

Protesters are making sure their voices are heardRoz Foyer, general secretary of the STUC

It was therefore extremely welcome when, at the big RMT demonstration outside Network Rail HQ on July 27, in response to my repeat call for these steps, STUC general secretary Roz Foyer announced the STUC will organise such a Scottish demo, on Thursday September 8.

The Network has subsequently met again, with activists from nearly 40 branches of 12 separate unions planning action to build this demo into the biggest possible show of workers’ combined strength. Not only to display multi-union solidarity, but put demands on the Scottish government to take sides with the millions suffering the worst slaughter of incomes and rights since the dark ages of Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s war on communities.

The bookies’ favourite to win the Tory leadership, and thereby foist herself on us as unelected Prime Minister, has announced plans to infinitely worsen the repressive legislation against trade unions, within 30 days of taking office.

Liz Truss’s measures virtually ban the right to strike – to chain workers as slaves to their capitalist masters. The hour for urgent, mass action has struck.

Protesters are making sure their voices are heardProtesters gather outside Scottish Tory HQ

We know what the Tories represent. How lamentable then is the Tory-lite role of Sir Keir Starmer, whose instructions to Labour front-benchers to stay away from picket lines amply shows whose side he’s on, which explains the resignation from Labour of union chiefs.

The SNP-Scottish Greens government also needs to be pounded into dropping their plans to slash 30,000 public sector jobs, and their ruinous 2.2% cap on pay, which signifies a draconian pay cut in light of 11.8% inflation.

Claims of ‘not being in the room’ won’t wash: the Scottish Government funds local authorities, the NHS, education, railways, etc., and its 2.2% pay freeze means we have not one, but two governments butchering pay for the benefit of profits.

The September 8 demo is an opportunity to “persuade” Holyrood to change course, through the argument of vast numbers at their doorstep.

The Scottish Workers Solidarity Network appeals to all readers to help mobilise thousands on to the streets of Edinburgh, to march on the Scottish Parliament, and demand “Cut Profits, not Pay”, “Raise Wages, not Prices”.

Richie Venton is co-ordinator for Scottish Workers Solidarity Network