The first British general strike in 86 years? Why, how rude!

When this story appeared on one of my listservs, I must confess that my pulse quickened and my eyes lit up. A general strike, ‘ey? Mark Serwotka, head of Britain’s Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, says labor unions in Britain have been discussing organizing a one-day general strike “to fight back against cuts to pay, jobs and pensions in the public sector.” If it happens, it would be the first general strike in England since 1926.

Another union, United, which is Britain’s largest, also supports the strike. United is said to believe that such a strike:

would be a landmark in our movement’s recovery of its morale, strength and capacity to play a leading part in a society crying out for credible and honourable leadership.

Though I am hardly an expert on British politics, it seems highly unlikely that a general strike would by itself reverse the tide of the austerity madness that currently grips that country’s — and the world’s — ruling elites. But people fighting back and perhaps instilling the fear of God into these modern-day Marie Antoinettes? That is always a heartening thing to see. Britain hasn’t seen very many strikes at all since the fabled winter of ’79, which ended up ushering in the era of neoliberalism that has dominated Britain’s politics ever since. It would be poetic justice if a general strike could be the catalyst that threw neoliberalism back to the pits of hell from which it came.

This is one story I’ll be keeping my eye on.

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee