Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/789/17764

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 November 2013

Editorial of the Socialist

Fight the Tory witch-hunt against Unite

Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into Unite's use of 'leverage' when trade union members are defending jobs and conditions. 'Leverage' is the name for a detailed and high-profile campaign designed to apply pressure to employers and their clients. Socialist Party members and the National Shop Stewards Network have been proud to participate in many of Unite's leverage protests.

Leverage has often been effective, particularly when it backs up strike action. In 2011-12 the Sparks, construction electricians, defeated an attempt to cut their wages by 35%. Leverage supplemented the unofficial and planned official strike action of the workers.

Last year it was key to getting Honda convenor Paddy Brennan's suspension lifted, and this year exposing the blacklisters helped sacked construction electrician Frank Morris get his job back on Crossrail. It was also a major factor in sacked MMP workers winning a decent redundancy pay-off.

The BBC reported that Con-Dem axe-man Francis Maude said "protest is fine" but it should not be allowed to move over "into intimidation and clearly inappropriate activity," with the management being treated as "the enemy". This is utter Tory hypocrisy.

Working class people who have spent years and even decades fighting injustice - over blacklisting, the Shrewsbury Pickets, the miners at Orgreave and the families of the dead and maimed at Hillsborough, in the aftermath of Grangemouth - will be disgusted that Cameron is rushing out an inquiry into this legitimate and peaceful leverage strategy. In a feeble effort to distance himself from the Tories, Vince Cable has insisted that the Lib Dems only supported the move because the probe will also look at the practices of employers.

But while Unite has been put into the spotlight by ministers and the increasingly virulent union-baiting press, there is no mention of an investigation into the real bully-boy Jim Ratcliffe of Grangemouth company Ineos who put a loaded gun to the head of thousands of workers and blackmailed a workforce and a community, even a nation. No, he actually gets 134 million in government grants and loan guarantees and even 40 million off the plant's fuel bills!

Cabinet Office Minister Maude gave the game away when he stated: "This forms part of our long-term plan to ensure Britain remains competitive and to secure an economic recovery for hard-working people." For 'competitive,' read continuing to drive down the living standards and rights of workers to maintain and expand the profits of big business.

Despite Tory claims over the last couple of decades that the unions are finished, their enormous potential power is still seen by the bosses and their representatives as the major threat. Therefore the Tory view is that, on top of Thatcher's anti-union laws, maintained throughout New Labour's reign, the unions have to be further emasculated.

Grangemouth

This attack unfortunately also shows that the enemies of the labour and trade union movement often have a more realistic appraisal of or concern for the latent strength of the organised working class than the union leaders. They are dimly aware of the seething anger and frustration that exists within large sections of the working class, and also the middle class. This anger will explode at some stage - but it needs the trade union leaders to provide a strategy for effective action.

The bosses and the Tories have been emboldened by the Grangemouth setback. That is the motivation for this 'review'. Ratcliffe had clearly been preparing for years to take on and defeat the workers at Grangemouth. Similar preparation by the workers' movement could have ensured Ratcliffe's defeat.

However, this was not a decisive defeat. Now, many union activists there and throughout the country will be digesting the lessons and considering the type and scale of action necessary to prepare for future struggles of this character. Militant tactics such as occupation can be posed as well as the call for nationalisation.

But the call for a 24-hour general strike would have a huge response. The steady stream of lively and determined local strike action shows that where a lead is given, workers respond. Generalised strike action is the most effective way to shift the balance of forces in society, and could have stayed the hand of Ratcliffe.

Now, in the face of the Con-Dem onslaught, the working class must give its full support to Unite and its members. If any measures are taken against Unite or the union movement in general, there should be solidarity across the trade unions in the same spirit as the mass action in 1972 that freed the Pentonville dockers. Then, in the face of mass rank and file strikes forcing the TUC to call a general strike, the Tory government of Ted Heath backed down.

Labour conference

One of Cameron's main motives in initiating the investigation is probably to put pressure on Labour and Ed Miliband. After all, the inquiry is scheduled to report around the time of Labour's special spring conference. That conference forms part of Labour's own attack on trade unions.

Called in the wake of Falkirk, where Labour brought in the police to investigate Unite, this conference is to decide on the Collins Review into the union link with Labour. It will recommend further weakening of the unions' collective voice in the party, if not its elimination.

Unfortunately, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has appeared to be prepared to comply with Miliband's proposals. This strategy leaves working class people politically defenceless in the face of the austerity offensive. As a result Unite members are grappling with how they can secure a political voice.

On Labour, as he has admitted, Len is increasingly out of kilter with many Unite members, particularly those who live and work in areas with Labour-run councils who are passing on all Osborne's brutal cuts. The Observer reported this weekend that the price of Miliband and Balls' acceptance of Tory austerity is a further 40 billion of cuts that they will have to implement if elected. No wonder that they are not committed to repeal the anti-union laws!

The seven million trade unionists need a party that is not only not embarrassed to be linked with the unions, but has the defence of union rights and the commitment to fight all cuts emblazoned on its banner. The building of such a party, which the initiative of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is an important preparatory step towards, is even more urgent in the light of this developing witch-hunt.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 20 November 2013:


International socialist news and analysis

Seattle: 90,000 votes for socialist change

Victory for socialist in Seattle!

Philippines: Typhoon damage worsened by capitalism

Sri Lanka: Cameron's empty promise of war inquiry


Socialist Party news and analysis

Drive the profit vultures out of our NHS

Fight the Tory witch-hunt against Unite

Students must 'fight for the right to fight'

Labour MPs absent in bedroom tax vote

Them & Us


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

We need you to stand against cuts

TUSC byelection candidates: opposing all cuts


Socialist Party workplace news

Unite sector conferences: Union delegates seek strategy for resistance

Portsmouth: 'Save the yards, nationalise'

Firefighters determined to fight on

Glasgow strike builds momentum

UPS workers resist bad working conditions

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bedroom tax: Words are cheap - we need action now!

Birmingham children's services - a victim of cuts

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance launched

One thousand march against EDL

Portsmouth: 30 students debate to vote or not to vote?

'Labour is indistinguishable from the Tories'

Pat Cross: 1935-2013


Socialist Party comments and reviews

JFK assassination: Who gained?

We need a real energy bill revolution


 

Home   |   The Socialist 20 November 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Unite:

triangleSupport the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangleSix months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Witch-hunt:

triangleLivingstone's smear of Militant

triangleThe Socialist Party and support for the Corbyn movement

triangleSupport the campaign to readmit expelled socialists

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Union:

triangleRetail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

triangleStrikers rally in Liverpool

trianglePCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

Labour:

triangleBlairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

Strike:

triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

Grangemouth:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

13/12/17

Labour

Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

13/12/17

Brexit

Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

13/12/17

Housing

Two in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

13/12/17

NHS

Save our NHS

13/12/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

13/12/17

Fees

Uni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!

13/12/17

Retail

Retail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

8/12/17

Government

Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

6/12/17

Labour

Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

6/12/17

NHS

Branson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers

6/12/17

Immigration

Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system

6/12/17

Banks

RBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

6/12/17

Homelessness

Rough sleeping crisis: make homes, not arrests

6/12/17

Poverty

End Tory war on poor

6/12/17

Rail

Nationalise rail now

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2