Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/567/6943
Launch of new broad left for Unite
The launch meeting for the new broad left organisation in Unite, 'United Left', takes place in Birmingham on 21 February. Formed from the T&G Broad Left, the Amicus Unity Gazette and independent lefts in both unions, this new organisation will have an important role to play if it advocates fighting, socialist policies as an answer to the growing crisis facing workers. But if it defines itself purely as an electoral machine devoted to maintaining 'left' majorities at all costs, then there will be problems ahead.
The current leadership of Unite has failed to put up a vigorous enough battle against the effects on workers of the recession. But there is anger from below, as witnessed by the construction engineers' strikes and, this week, the scenes at BMW at Cowley. Unite joint general secretary Woodley said all the right things about the sackings at Cowley, but only called for a change in the law rather than action!
A left organisation within the union must reject 'partnership' with the bosses. There is also growing discontent with the relationship the union's leaders have with New Labour and the amount of money the union has spent in propping up New Labour.
Last year the Gazette split, with some supporters of Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson forming the 'Workers Uniting Group'. But rather than getting behind a genuine left-wing member of Amicus for general secretary, like Jerry Hicks, the Gazette backed the right-wing Laurence Faircloth. When Faircloth withdrew from the race, the majority of the Gazette leadership threw in its lot behind Simpson!
This is not an auspicious start for the new left. Those who attend the launch meeting should discuss a serious programme and the kind of representatives workers need to combat the present crisis of capitalism.
In The Socialist 18 February 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis