Sir ‘sell-out’ Brendan

Alex Davidson

That former TUC general secretary Brendan Barber is now ‘Sir’ Brendan will come as no surprise to any union activist who saw the pensions dispute destroyed in 2011.

Following successful pressure by the Socialist Party, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and others, 30 November 2011 saw two million workers on strike over the Con-Dems’ assault on public sector pensions. It showed just how much power the union movement could have.

The sell-out that followed was orchestrated by Barber and designed to destroy the growing momentum that had been built up.

The knighthood given to him will be seen by all rank and file trade unionists as a reward for the deliberate destruction of a strike movement that could have defeated the government.

Barber has spent his entire life in the TUC bureaucracy. He has never been a shop steward, never held an elected position in any union.

He and others like him see their role as managing the union movement and presenting a ‘responsible’ face of trade unionism to the government.

They think that the only role of trade unions is to mitigate the worst aspects of the employers’ plans.

When you are faced with a government which is determined to destroy everything we have ever won, this approach is totally inadequate.

With their six figure salaries and hefty expense accounts the TUC leaders have little in common with the rest of us.

Rank and file

That is why we need to strengthen rank and file trade unionism to fight not only the employers but the traitors within the union leadership.

The role of the NSSN is crucial in helping to develop a new generation of class fighters.

The Socialist Party stands for the full democratisation of the union movement. All key union officials should be elected and paid no more than the average wage of their members.

We must end the rule of unaccountable bureaucrats such as Barber and build a fighting, democratic union movement.

These rotten traitors must be swept aside if we are to beat back the attacks of the Con-Dems and the employers. The NSSN conference on 29 June is the next stage in building such a movement.