UK general strike gets U.S. solidarity (with video)


Over 2 million workers walked off the job across Great Britain Wednesday in a 24-hour general strike. Tens of thousands more across the UK joined them in demonstrations against their conservative government's draconian austerity programs and cuts. Public services were disrupted in England, Scotland and Wales.  (story continues after video)

Chicago Solidarity with UK General Strike from Scott Marshall on Vimeo.


Here in the U.S., hundreds of union members and Occupy activists picketed the British Embassy in Washington and British consulates in Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco and Chicago. (Chicago video below)

The United Steelworkers union and the National Nurses Union led the mobilization for the solidarity actions. Central labor councils and Occupy movements also helped turn out.

In Chicago, Robert Reiter, secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, hailed the action of the British workers. The British Consulate is on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and Reiter reminded the crowd that 100 years ago, 70,000 workers marched down the avenue demanding the eight-hour day and workers' rights. He said in that spirit, "We have to stand up for what's right like they did. Let's stand behind our brothers and sisters in Great Britain and let's stand behind the Occupy movement and workers rights here in America."

Jean Ross, co-president of the NNU, lauded the solidarity action. Nurses and hospital workers in Britain have been particular targets of the conservative government. Ross said, "We have to stand in solidarity with the British (workers), in solidarity with the French (workers) and in solidarity with every person in this world who works for a living. And we're going to do it."

Bill Gibbons, USW retired District 7 co-director, told the crowd that steelworkers stand in solidarity with those unfairly targeted public workers in Great Britain. And he lambasted the brutal austerity attacks on workers around the world and called for more global solidarity to stop the attacks.

Thirty national unions in Britain participated in the walkout in what has been described as the most significant union action in decades. The strike specifically targets efforts by the conservative government to cut public worker pensions affecting health care, transportation, government workers and other service workers.

Photo: Scott Marshall/PW

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  • This concrete action and the follow-up of U. S. unions with the mighty righteousness of Occupy, combined with the history of progressive relationships in Britain, point to a more just world, one in which as our W.E.B. Du Bois said way back in 1906," The morning breaks over the hills. Courage brothers! The battle for humanity is not lost or losing. The Slav is rising in his might, the yellow minions are testing their liberty, the Black Africans are writhing toward the light, and everywhere the laborer is opening the gates of opportunity and peace."
    There is no justice or righteousness in the austerity prescribed by the right wing in Britain or the U. S. so-called "leaders"decidedly anti-working class and anti-communist. There is only justice, righteousness and peace in jobs and
    Historically, it was the great sage and American statesman and Abolitionist, Sage of Anacostia, Frederick Douglass who had met, in 1846, with the great British abolitionist, Thomas Clarkson(responsible largely for abolishing slavery in English Colonies) to coalesce world forces, including forces in Ireland, for human liberation.
    Later, it was the CPUSA's W.E.B. Du Bois, with his 1900 and first Pan-Africanist Conference in London that touched off humanity's resistance to colonial imperialism from Black Africa, along with progressives of every hue.
    Of course, the backdrop of the activities of the great Karl Marx and his partner Frederic Engels, surrounding the First International, from London don't hurt the progressive history of the U. S. and British working class.
    All labor councils and union members and officers need to note this needed unity between British and U. S. unions and labor for the whole class to stop and reverse the austerity the world's modern working class is confronted with, and fight for full employment on both sides of the Atlantic with universal union protections.
    The Occupy movement must coalesce with the trade union and civil rights, Constitution rights, and civil liberties movements, to effect the lasting solidarity and political unity we now need.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 12/02/2011 10:50am (4 years ago)

  • Cool idea. If you go on strike for a couple of months it might solve the budget crisis. Thanks for helping.

    Posted by Randy T, 12/01/2011 9:54pm (4 years ago)

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