Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/780/17442
Labour backs austerity...
A Trade Union Congress (TUC) press release after Miliband's speech to Labour conference shows how ties with the Labour Party hold back trade union struggle.
It says: "Ed Miliband's warm reception reflected his understanding of the concerns of the modern workplace - the squeeze in living standards and the growth of exploitation through zero-hour contracts."
He should understand zero-hour contracts - his party's councillors are implementing them! Three Labour councils in South Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Cardiff and Swansea between them have thousands of workers on zero-hour contracts.
As for the "squeeze in living standards", Labour-led Swansea council leads the way, with its 'sign or be sacked' policy towards council workers and union members who face losing thousands of pounds or up to 10% of their take-home pay on new contracts.
That squeeze will continue as Miliband confirmed that austerity will continue under Labour. Instead of praising Miliband, the TUC should be organising the fightback against whichever party is implementing cuts.
The press release should have named the date for a 24-hour general strike rather than boosting the credibility of a leader whose party will carry on with Con-Dem cuts.
If the TUC wants political representatives to act in their members' interests then they should stop flogging the dead horse of Labour and instead back candidates that support the repeal of all anti-trade union laws and will vote against all cuts, like the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
...unions must stop backing Labour
I am currently reading the union history 'GMB@Work' by John Callow. It is inspiring to read of the efforts of pioneers like Will Thorne in unionising gas workers and others in Victorian times, against steep odds.
We need something like that again - a new 'New Unionism'. Many of those pioneers, including Thorne himself, were members of Marxist organisations.
They also drew political conclusions, that workers needed independent political rep-resentation and should break from the Liberals, then supported by many workers and union leaders.
Again, I think that is something we need now. The Labour Party is clearly now just another bosses' party (a bit like the Democrats in the US).
More and more members, and workers in general, do not understand why union funds still go to funding a party of privatisation and war.
So I welcome the decision by the GMB union's Central Executive Council on 3 September to drastically slash its funding of the Labour Party by 90%.
It is especially significant as the GMB and its leadership has been viewed as one of the most Labour loyalist unions, and it does not have a broad left type grouping such as are organised in Unite or Unison. This development will have a knock-on effect in other unions.
I think the 'Labour link' should be completely severed. We must argue against those arguing for the union to be "non-political", which in itself is a political standpoint.
We must argue for GMB to support efforts to forge new and proper independent working class political representation (such as what the RMT union has been doing).
A GMB union member
In The Socialist 18 September 2013:
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