Why I’m lobbying the TUC for a 24-hour general strike (C&A)

When my father used to tell me of the privations he endured in the 1930s depression including walking from Brighton to Aldershot in a fruitless search for work it just sounded like scary stories from history, but I can see things going back that far and further if this government isn’t challenged.

It’s clear from Con-Dem policies that they don’t believe working people should have a health service or any kind of welfare; if you can’t make a profit for the boss you can starve. The plight facing youth is desperate; many of the opportunities open to my generation have gone. There are no real careers or trades unless you want to leave university with £50,000 in debt. The government has stood by and even cheered as one company after another has axed jobs or exported them to lower wage economies. My dad joined the army but that is no longer an escape route for youth with no work experience.

This government wants to move wealth from the bottom to the top. No amount of pleading will change their mind. This government is single-minded in its determination to make the obscenely rich even more obscenely rich and leave millions of our class in poverty.

Despite what the Labour and some trade union leaders think, this government stays in power with our consent because we haven’t yet used our colossal strength to sweep them aside. Only a general strike will really show them that our class means business. The TUC should have called one when the government first announced their wholesale attacks on our jobs and services. We need to let the TUC know that we want decisive action that can topple this government called.

I’m lobbying the TUC to defend the services that I rely on but also so that today’s youth will have something better than unending poverty to look forward to. The working class aren’t surplus to requirements – the Con-Dems are. (Clive Walder, Birmingham)

I was doing a gardening job at a finance high-flyer’s ‘house’ a little while ago. Beautiful grounds, outdoor heated swimming pool (never used), expensive cars on the drive. I reckon we are talking in excess of a million pounds to buy it. One of the workers at the house explained that the property was bought with the owner’s annual bonus – not sure what the salary was.

A self-employed gardener can earn around £10-20k a year if they work hard and get the jobs. At least if I didn’t pay tax, buy food, tools and have to live somewhere I could buy that place in less than a century.

Being self-employed wasn’t a choice I wanted make. I’d been to uni and got the debt to prove it. I was applying for jobs. Getting a job used to be easy. I’d walk down the high street giving out my CVs and before you knew it I’d have a job. Minimum wage, bad hours etc. But a job. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore. So I went self-employed and found my own work – where I could. I’m off the unemployment stats but I don’t feel much better off. I can’t go on strike but I support the workers when they do. The TUC need to realise something though; it’s not just their members that they are defending. It’s the whole of the working class, including those who can’t go on strike. The youth, the elderly, the disabled and those like me who have ended up self-employed through lack of work. I’ll be at the lobby of the TUC on Sunday 9 September to demand a 24-hour general strike, which I will support and campaign for. It’s the only way to make ourselves heard and stop a bleak future. (Alec Price, Merseyside)