Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/704/13705
The Socialist 8 February 2012 |
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We need fighting trade unions
Mike Aistrop, North West
In 1997 Alan Greenspan stated before the US Senate committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, that one of the contributing factors for the US 'double digit' growth during the early 1990s was 'worker insecurity'.
Workers were so fearful for their jobs and future prospects that they were willing to forgo pay increases and union membership for the possibility of a 'secure' job.
With this in mind and having listened to a couple of Noam Chomsky discussions, Class War - The Attack on Working People and Free Market Fantasies, Capitalism in the Real World, I was recently asked to lead a discussion while on a trade union reps' training course.
My idea was to try and define worker security and worker insecurity, find real examples of policies which supported security or insecurity, understand the purpose of these policies, the advantages and disadvantages, how the trade union movement should react and what the future looks like.
I split the group into two and set them off to find the supporting evidence for worker security and worker insecurity.
After 30 minutes, the group looking at worker security found no policies which would lead to worker security.
But the group looking at worker insecurity found lots of examples, such as the 1% pay freeze for public sector workers, the 700,000 public sector job losses (which is more than the whole public sector in Scotland), changes to the employment tribunal procedures, pensions, increase in retirement age, social partnership policy, workfare, etc.
In the end we agreed that the only secure thing workers can look forward to in the future is insecurity and that the trade unions need to gear up for what is coming.