Movement against austerity poised for upturn

By Nicky Dempsey

Talk of economic recovery and even boom is entirely misplaced, but it may have a very positive effect on the movement against austerity.

In reality the British economy has barely moved from stationary into first gear yet the government and its supporters are determined to talk up recovery. The living standards of the overwhelming majority are continuing to decline and real wages are falling.

Workers and the oppressed generally do not feel inclined to mount serious struggles without any prospect of victory. But talk of recovery may encourage them to fight and there are some signs of that.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity continues to go from strength to strength, with 60 local groups now established, public meetings which have attracted large audiences and a growing mobilisation for the September 29 demonstration outside the Tory party conference. This is supported by the largest unions with the organisers expecting around 50,000 in defence of the NHS and against austerity. This will be the largest mobilisation against government policy for some time and comes against a background of an increasingly isolated and discredited Tory leadership.

In addition there is some revival of union strike activity. Teachers unions are set to strike in October against deteriorating conditions and a pay offer of one per cent, well below the level of inflation. The CWU are set to ballot members on strike action in defence of jobs and conditions threatened by privatisation. The TUC has also backed a day of action and protest on November 5. Further disputes may be in the offing.

The movement against austerity may be poised for a more solid upturn than the fiction of economy recovery. Supporting the teachers and postal workers in their fight and mobilising for September 29 are the next major steps for the movement.