The strikes that started in Britain last year have continued through into 2023 and show every sign of continuing. Strikes on the railways, with postal workers, in the civil service, nurses and ambulance workers in the NHS, teachers, bus drivers, they have all been part of the movement. An estimated million working days were lost to strike action in the month of December alone, the highest figure since 1989. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the public and private sector have continued their struggles into the new year.
In France strikes in protest at plans to raise the French retirement age have involved more than a million people in demonstrations across the country. In response to strikes in Italy the government banned strikes on public holidays. Strikes in Germany, Portugal, the United States and elsewhere show that workers in Britain are not alone. However, what is most obvious is that the strikes are divided, different workers striking on different days, different locations at different times. These divisions come from the trade union organisation of the strikes. What’s needed is for workers to take the struggle into their own hands.
Workers need to extend their struggles, to seek out support and solidarity away from the workplace, away from isolated sectors. Workers need to organise their own struggles, which means general assemblies, not controlled by the unions, but controlled by workers. Above all there needs to be the widest discussion on the needs of the struggle, on the lessons to be learnt from past struggles, both victories and defeats. While there will be future defeats, the entry into struggle is the first victory for the working class.