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Swords nearly drawn

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The TUC has voted for a co-ordinated campaign of industrial action if the Government’s cuts are as dramatic as they have been trailed. The question of cuts (and therefore of industrial action) is particularly relevant to those of us in Sheffield, because the labour market and wider economy is so heavily dependent on the public sector, where the majority of cuts are expected to come.

The axe will almost certainly fall more heavily here than in many other places and it had not occurred to me until recently that it will also fall more heavily among women and BME communities because of the proportion these communities make of the public sector.

What is not yet clear is the extent to which the planned industrial action will generate popular support. As a nation have we become slower to take up arms against the oppressor? As someone who grew up in the 1970’s, my memory is of regular national and local labour disputes and although we have seen industrial action more recently, my impression is that they have in the main, been short-lived and without popular support.

That popular support is crucial if such action is to succeed and there has been no general level of protest about the impending cuts (unlike those we have seen in other European countries). My impression is that there is a resignation amongst many that cuts are inevitable and that we will have to grin and bear them when they come. That stiff upper lip may start to quiver, however, if the cuts come nearer to home and the next few months may be distressing and disruptive in equal measure for us all.


Posted: 16/09/2010 08:51:54
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