Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/361/5942

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 September 2004

TUC Congress:

Action - The Only Language The Government Understands

THIS YEAR'S TUC will feature much huffing and puffing by the union leaders on what to do about New Labour's assault on workers' rights and conditions.

Bill Mullins

The leaders of some of the big Labour-affiliated unions are claiming that they have got agreement with Blair and Brown on key issues such as the two-tier workforces in the ex-public sector and changes to workers' rights, such as not counting bank holidays towards the annual entitlement.

In fact the claim that Labour is listening to the unions is completely hollow. Union leaders might like to live under an illusion but for their members the reality is much harsher.

Civil servants face a massive attack on their jobs and conditions. Brown's announcement of the sacking of 104,000 civil servants in the recent public sector spending review was the opening salvo against what the government considers the last outpost of trade unionism in Britain - the public sector.

What New Labour have in mind is the dismantling of effective trade unionism in the public sector, starting with the civil service.

To do this they first have to clear the ground to attempt to isolate the main civil service union, the PCS.

The PCS have a resolution on the agenda calling for the TUC to oppose the job cuts. The PCS is leading the way in organising for the first civil service-wide strike since 1993.

TUC support

This will be a concrete demonstration by civil servants that they are ready to fight the government plans to wreck the public sector. The least they can expect from the TUC is to support them and make concrete plans from the conference for: "before the end of the year, a national day of protest, including industrial action, a demonstration and lobby of parliament". (From the PCS resolution to the TUC conference).

The only language that the government understands is action. All the appeals to be reasonable from the TUC fall on deaf ears. The firefighters were forced to the brink of national strike action when the government sabotaged the recent agreement with the employers (see the article in last week's paper).

It is clear that the government decided not to fight on two fronts at once but instead settle with the firefighters so as to take on the PCS.

Labour ministers have long memories of the role of the Militant (the forerunner of the Socialist Party) in the 1980s and 1990s in battles like Liverpool and the poll tax. They also understand that we have a leading role in the PCS, along with other socialists like Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary.

The PCS is the main obstacle to New Labour's plans to crush all opposition to their making the public sector ready for mass privatisation.

The so-called awkward squad of trade union leaders is, unfortunately, lagging behind events particularly on the issue of the unions continuing to support the Labour Party.

After the much vaunted meeting at Labour's policy forum (where the trade unions carry no more weight than a constituency Labour Party) the union leaders declared that they had forced major concessions from Tony Blair.

Claim

But this claim was soon dashed by Labour ministers who declared that "no red lines had been crossed." The CBI later said "they could live with it". And John Reid, the health minister, immediately declared that the two-tier pay levels in ex-NHS privatised services would remain until the unions accept Agenda For Change. (The much-despised pay proposals that will cut the wages of the lowest-paid NHS ancillary workers if they go through).

Derek Simpson of Amicus got a rude awakening when he fondly imagined that his members would rally round Labour after this.

According to The Guardian his appeal to his members calling on them to support Labour in the June Euro elections was met with a: "flood of vituperative telephone calls, letters and emails from his members swamping the union's headquarters".

Despite the opposition of their own members the union tops are pouring money into Labour's election campaign.

The Times reported on 30 August that UNISON has donated 600,000. The TGWU is expected to do the same in the next few weeks whilst Amicus (no doubt before the opposition to Derek Simpson's appeal letter) gave 500,000 earlier in the summer.

The left union leaders, who were swept to power because the previous leaderships were seen as "too close to the gaffer", have enormous authority with the broad mass of trade union members. But this authority is in danger of being squandered if the left general secretaries continue to throw their weight behind the Labour Party, which in the minds of most public sector workers is indistinguishable from the Labour government.

Attacks

Why, they ask, do you continue to support a party that attacks our wages and working rights and get nothing in return?

TGWU leader Tony Woodley has put forward a programme that he thinks would turn back the tide of Blairism and recapture the Labour Party for the working class.

It includes ending privatisation, re-nationalising the railways, taxing bank profits to protect pension rights and having the same rights at work as workers do in Europe.

Every socialist would support the left in the unions' fighting for this programme. But we would be forced to say it is unlikely to be put into practice without an almighty fight with the government and the capitalist owners of big business.

We would also have to add that without major changes to the Labour Party conference, it would not even be debated, never mind change the policies of this pro-capitalist, pro-market Labour government.

By continuing to cling onto the coat tails of a dead Labour Party the left union leaders are leading their members up a blind alley.

A fighting programme to end privatisation, to defend the public sector also has to include the political demand for the unions to break with Labour once and for all and launch a new mass workers' party.

There is no other way.

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


In The Socialist 11 September 2004:

A Spiral Of War And Terror

Bloodbath in Beslan

What Lies Behind The Terror


Socialist Party news and analysis

Protest Against Low Pay

Civil Servants Prepare To Fight Jobs Slaughter

Strength In Numbers

Save Southmead Hospital

Action - The Only Language The Government Understands

Blair And Beckham - The Champagne Charlies

Blair's Welfare Wonderland


International socialist news and analysis

Thousands Looking For An Alternative

Lessons Of The Sandinista Revolution

A Long View Of History


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 September 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

TUC:

triangleWorkers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangleLondon: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

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

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

triangleThe end of the Tories?

Public sector:

triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

trianglePCS ballots members to send message to government: scrap the pay cap

PCS:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

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

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against the sackers' charter at Leeds University

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Workers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

PCS

PCS ballots members to send message to government: scrap the pay cap

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

18/10/17

Local government

Unite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

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