Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://archive.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/765/16689

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 May 2013

Bedroom tax non-implementation

Only mass action can defeat it

Linda Taaffe, Secretary, National Shop Stewards Network
Axe the killer tax - end the bedroom tax now, photo  Socialist Party

Axe the killer tax - end the bedroom tax now, photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

It is a tribute to the determination of disabled workers to stop cuts ruining their lives, that many have taken to the road of struggle in their own right alongside other workers.

Direct action is not only for the able-bodied. Disabled workers have taken part in the big TUC demonstrations, and Remploy workers organise in trade unions to try to save jobs.

Since disabled workers make up a huge proportion of people affected by the bedroom tax, it is natural to turn to the trade unions to see how they could help stop this draconian measure.

Some have raised the idea of urging civil servants and local authority workers to refuse to participate in administering these new laws.

Some have suggested that PCS, the civil service union, should do this now as a trade union action. The reasoning is understandable, but every strategy needs to be thought out carefully and agreed that it is the best road to take and one that has a good possibility of winning the objective.

While this kind of action by PCS workers may sound attractive, it is fraught with pitfalls. Firstly, it would not be a strike.

The job of some PCS workers entails administering many disagreeable procedures to all kinds of people like welfare claimants, migrant workers, even those convicted of crimes.

To refuse as individuals to carry out their job, or part of their job, would put them immediately in jeopardy. In today's climate it could get them the sack.

There are many other jobs where workers have to do things that go against their principles. For example, teachers have to participate in SATs tests which are hugely unpopular and detrimental to children.

However, for a teacher to refuse to participate in the testing regime could lead to a charge of gross misconduct.

This does not mean, however, that no campaign is waged on the issue. To the contrary teachers are constantly campaigning.

Poll Tax

Secondly, to refuse to participate as a whole union is by no means straightforward. A case would have to be put that was generally agreed by PCS members as a realistic way forward.

Is this possible? PCS and Unison members might argue that, why should they alone bear the brunt of defeating this government on the bedroom tax and other benefits.

What about local councillors, could they agree not to implement the bedroom tax? What about the Labour Party - could they promise to reverse these cuts after the next election?

Even if PCS action was a popular idea, to get a legal ballot would most likely not be possible, as the issue is 'political' and not a strict trade union grievance - thanks to Thatcher's anti-trade union laws.

A similar strategy was raised during the mighty anti-poll tax campaign in the early 1990s. It was suggested that local government workers be asked to refuse to deduct the poll tax from employees pay.

Although the idea was tossed around in the labour movement, it never came to anything for quite similar reasons; and there never was a clamour from town hall workers.

In the end this hated tax was defeated by a campaign of mass non-payment, backed up by anti-poll tax federation activists carrying out mass information work and telling workers about their rights on not letting bailiffs into their homes.

Also attending the magistrates' courts as McKenzie friends with summonsed workers helped clog up the works.

Eventually the Tories had to withdraw the poll tax after Thatcher was forced to resign as prime minister.

Mass action against the bedroom tax should be part of action against all cuts. Trade unions should work with anti-bedroom tax campaigns locally and nationally to build an anti-evictions army to physically oppose, resist and prevent attempted bedroom tax evictions through all peaceful means necessary.

They can also campaign for the writing off of any debt incurred due to the bedroom tax and campaign to recover the shortfall for local authorities and housing associations from the Tory-led government at Westminster.

Disabled activists could help stop this bedroom tax for all by adding their pressure to the call for the TUC to organise the biggest joint action for generations - a coordinated public/private sector strike against austerity.

There are many direct attacks on workers by the Con-Dems and bosses - on pay, pensions, jobs, etc - that coordinated action can be taken against. All workers, all trade unions should act together to stop this Con-Dem juggernaut.

In the meantime, disabled campaigners could be key organisers of mass defiance - especially of the bedroom tax. But, disabled campaigners have marched together with trade unions, now is the time to strike together to beat austerity!

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 15 May 2013:


Fight the bedroom tax

Axe the killer tax: End the bedroom tax now

Bedroom tax non-implementation


Socialist Party news and analysis

Give us jobs, not Tory lies

Stop the health cuts!

Fat cat tax-dodging: 200 lorry loads of lolly!

Con-Dems' benefit fact fraud

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Japan's 'Abenomics'


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

TUSC builds support in Leicester byelection

Swansea's food bank for students

British government supports murderous Sri Lankan regime

Socialist Party meeting against cuts


Socialist Party workplace news

Gloves off in Mid Yorks hospital battle

Brighton bin workers fight pay cuts - this time from the Greens

Wales TUC: no fight against austerity

Unison leader 'gets it wrong' over action on pay

PCS conference 20-23 May

One Housing

Workplace news in brief


Reader's comment

Letter to the Tories who tell me to 'work hard and strive'


Socialist history

When mass action defeated Thatcher's poll tax

Yeadon Mill strike 1913


 

Home   |   The Socialist 15 May 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Bedroom tax:

triangleSelf-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!

triangleTory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

triangleThem & us

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

Tax:

triangleCut our fuel bills - nationalise energy

triangleCost of living crisis

triangleRob Windsor - remembering a tireless fighter for socialism

triangleRace to top for bankers

PCS:

trianglePCS Elections 2022: Time for new union leadership

trianglePCS consultative pay and conditions ballot - vote 'Yes'

trianglePCS 2022 elections

Disabled:

triangleWest Sussex care campaigners' victory

triangleThe struggle for accessible workplaces and an inclusive society

Poll tax:

triangleGloucestershire Socialist Party: Lessons of the anti-poll tax movement

23/2/22

Workers

The Erdington byelection and the fight for a new mass workers' party

23/2/22

Birmingham

Vote Nellist for a workers' MP in Erdington

23/2/22

Unite

Unite and fight for a decent pay rise

23/2/22

NHS

Privatisation and crisis in the NHS

23/2/22

Covid

Johnson scraps Covid safety measures

23/2/22

Britain

Tories instruct teachers to wipe Britain's real history

23/2/22

Bus

Bus services under threat

16/2/22

PCS

PCS Elections 2022: Time for new union leadership

16/2/22

Britain

Britain's economic growth figures mask fragile false recovery

16/2/22

Covid

Covid: Fight for full sick pay

16/2/22

Coventry

'Labour by name - Tory by policy'

16/2/22

Taxes

Tory stealth taxes burden 'packhorse generation'

16/2/22

Labour

Left Labour MPs under pressure over Erdington

16/2/22

London

Neither Washington, London nor Moscow

16/2/22

Police

Met police boss ousted

triangleMore articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2022

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999