LU statement on GE 2017 – unions must step up the fight against austerity

Demonstration in Glasgow, 15/6/17, launched by students and trade unionists to call for an end to austerity

Theresa May called a snap election with the intention of winning a landslide mandate to continue austerity and use the Brexit negotiations to turn Britain into a low wage tax haven. Instead she lost seats while the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party won seats, resulting in a hung Parliament.

Her credibility and authority are in shreds and her leadership is hanging by a thread. Deprived of a stable government to push through their agenda the Tories have been forced into a humiliating pact with the reactionary Democratic Unionist Party.

May has no mandate for austerity, including the pay freeze, office closures, cuts to jobs and services and attacks on the welfare state and National Health Service.

The Tories along with the media and the Blairites are now attempting to regain control by invoking the ‘National Interest’. Despite talk of the ‘end of austerity’ the ruling class will not abandon their cuts and privatisation programme without a struggle.

Left Unity demands the trade union movement now fully mobilises to build on the surge of support for the anti-austerity Corbyn manifesto. The TUC must, as a matter of priority, call a national demonstration to end austerity, the public sector pay freeze and to defend the NHS. It must now implement the policy moved by PCS and passed by Congress for joint, coordinated public sector action to end the pay freeze. And it must organise an emergency conference to discuss how to build resistance to the Trade Union Act.

The election result vindicates the PCS political strategy put forward by the Democracy Alliance National Executive Committee and agreed by Conference 2017 to give the maximum support allowable under union rules to support Corbyn’s anti-austerity manifesto, including supporting anti-austerity candidates. This resulted in applications to the NEC from branches to support anti-austerity candidates..

Left Unity recognises that in Scotland many PCS members cast their vote for the Scottish National Party as the best way of preventing a Tory government, not least of all because the Scottish Labour leader called for a vote for the Tories in some areas to prevent a second Independence Referendum.

Under its left leadership PCS should now step up its campaigns to defend members’ interests through its industrial and political strategies. Demands already placed on the employer to stop cuts in jobs and services should be pursued more vigorously than ever. Full support will be given to members resisting Tory cuts and attacks. PCS should also step up its work building links with other unions, especially so through town and city comnittees.

PCS has an unequalled record fighting the Tories austerity programme and the Alternative the union advocated was a key influence on the Labour manifesto that galvanised millions, including 72% of youth to vote for hope over despair. Building support amongst the youth is of significant importance in this period and LU believes there is a key role for the Young Members Network with thousands of new staff being recruited, many of whom will be apprenticeships and fixed term appointments.

Left Unity will be at the forefront of building opposition to this weak government and campaign for the early election of an anti-austerity government with Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.

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PCS Left Unity

Left Unity is a faction within the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) that is represented at every level of the union, from branches and workplaces to the National Executive Committee. We believe in a democratic and fighting union and have a proud history within PCS and its predecessor unions in delivering for members.