Pensioners and miners’ strikes (Wed 17 Oct)

Greater London Pensioners’ Association

As a group, they’ve been working for 38 years for better healthcare, better pensions, and a better more dignified life.

Key points:

  • Blair and Labour since 1997 are just “closet Tories” and have been as bad as Thatcher for pensioners.
  • Unions have always struggled for occupational pensions, but not on state pensions (to live with dignity), so pensioners had to pick up the campaign.
  • Fuel poverty affects single parents as well as pensioners. It’s not just ice on the windows – under 10 degrees means people are too cold to regulate their own body temperature.
  • It’s never been as bad as now for working people in living memory, especially given how many cuts are yet to come.
  • What we need to focus on: ignore the small differences that split the left, and untie on common issues e.g. fuel poverty. Need to vote the current government out, build grassroots movements to push society in more positive direction.
  • What can be done: direct action – stealing fuel, taking warm buildings, fuel bill strikes (like successful rent strikes in 70s as long as there’s sustained pressure)

Action on Saturday 27 October, meeting in Stratford shopping centre at noon by Primark and Disney. Young people appreciated!

Ken Loach

  • Until the miners’ strike, the worker’s movement in the UK was long undefeated. Thatcher ruined the communal solidarity by breaking unions: removing subsidies leading to mass unemployment, reducing union subs; provoked weaker unions into strikes that could be broken, and only going for the strong miners’ union when there were no other unions to support them.
  • The TUC did nothing to help the miners’, and they’re not doing enough to help workers now. It’s up to us, not them!
  • If you’re successful, people will try and coopt your organisation, so make sure its resistant to it – no (charismatic) leaders, accountable bottom-up leadership.
  • Q: What to do without strong unions?
    A: Partly models like Cuts Cafe, support the better and more grassroots unions like the RMT or PCS, more support in unions for younger people, community organising, militant “single-issue” groups e.g. DPAC.
  • Q: how can we move forward?
    A: Learn from past mistakes (e.g. vanguardist Leninism), try out new structures, and maintain radicalism in our collectiveness.
  • Q: is there chance the tradition of folk music will come back in the UK?
    A: it still exists now, but it demeaned by popular culture. It didn’t come out instantly during the miners’ struggle, but they were driven into it. Comes from struggle, comes from hope.
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2 thoughts on “Pensioners and miners’ strikes (Wed 17 Oct)

  1. Wednesday – 3.5 hrs of solid discussion. Makes travelling from Gloucestershire worthwhile. Admire the enterprise and enthusiasm. Best of luck, regards

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