In Manchester a "J30: Wage rage!" protest is happening at the Welfare to Work Convention at the Manchester Central convention centre. In New Cross, London, a "strike party street party" has been organised for 10am outside Deptford town hall with many early morning picketers and supporters heading to central London afterwards to join the trade union march to Westminster. Later on there will be a mass strikers' assembly outside parliament supported by London-based Spanish indignados and Greek aganaktismenoi. School walkouts and marches have also been planned to link up various workplace pickets with each other.
Since the storming of Millbank towers by thousands of students on 10 November last year and the school walkouts and university occupations that culminated in more than 500,000 trade unionists taking to the streets on 26 March – the much talked-about co-ordinated day of strike action promised by the trade unions has finally materialised.
The 30 June strikes (or J30) may turn out to be the most important step forward in the fight against public sector cuts and the wider austerity measures planned by the coalition. About 750,000 workers will be involved, from teachers to jobcentre staff to civil servants and other public sector employees.
Some in government – most recently education secretary Michael Gove – have characterised the strike as an attack on "ordinary people", in particular "hardworking" parents who will be inconvenienced by school closures. Gove went as far as suggesting that parents act as strikebreakers, babysitting children in schools to keep them open.
He may find his appeal falls on deaf ears. For although it is true that many workers are not in trade unions, and that for them striking is not an option, cuts and wider austerity measures impact on us all, and there is widespread sympathy for the strike. The government and employers will try to manipulate the supposed divide between those in unions and not in unions, between paid and unpaid workers, and public or private sector employees, but many people understand that divide is false.
In May a group of us who had been radicalised by recent anti-cuts actions called an open meeting, advertised through Facebook and Twitter, to discuss how people who were not unionised workers could support the strike action. The purpose of the meeting was to see how we could deepen the strike and make it appeal to many more people, making it a day to link up all those fighting against the cuts and wider austerity measures. More than 100 people turned up: parents, carers, non-unionised workers, unemployed and precarious workers and a group of Spanish "indignados" who have been, since 15 May, holding protests outside the Spanish embassy in London. This meeting became the first "J30 assembly".
Since then the concept has gone viral, and similar assemblies have been popping up across the UK including Leeds, Birmingham, Norwich and Oxford. The call to "generalise the strike" has clearly resonated with people as it suggests we all have a stake in these struggles and the strike is for all of us. The use of social media tools in this new movement have meant that ideas travel further, drawing in new and younger participants, many of whom have never been involved in a trade union or in workplaces that are unionised.
Across the country trade unionists will be on the picket lines, and we think it is crucial that as many people as possible show their support on the day. Therefore J30 assemblies have called for mass support at every picket line, and we are spreading the word with our website, http://www.blogger.com/www.j30strike.org.
Information has been crowdsourced via Twitter in an attempt to list as many locations of pickets, rallies, actions and marches in the lead-up to the day. UK Uncut activists will also be out in force, and have organised a "big society breakfast" for the morning. In Manchester a "J30: Wage rage!" protest is happening at the Welfare to Work Convention at the Manchester Central convention centre. In New Cross, London, a "strike party street party" has been organised for 10am outside Deptford town hall with many early morning picketers and supporters heading to central London afterwards to join the trade union march to Westminster. Later on there will be a mass strikers' assembly outside parliament supported by London-based Spanish indignados and Greek aganaktismenoi. School walkouts and marches have also been planned to link up various workplace pickets with each other.
The student movement, and the numerous autonomous and creative groups like UK Uncut have led the way. The J30 assemblies continue with this spirit in the lead up to 30 June with the intention to generalise the strikes across the UK, bringing trade unionists, students and unemployed workers together and making the case for a united show of force on 30 June.