Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30823

Posted on 21 May 2020 at 17:26 GMT

Covid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

photo Sheffield SP

photo Sheffield SP   (Click to enlarge)

Roger Bannister, Socialist Party national committee

On 22 May, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, accompanied by the Blairite Labour Shadow Chancellor Annelise Dodds, launched a report, 'A Better Recovery', which calls for a National Recovery Council comprised of unions, the government, and employers at national, regional and sectoral levels.

This is a proposed extension of the 'national consensus' that the TUC and a number of trade union leaders have gone along with during the pandemic.

The Tory government has been forced to look to the TUC leadership for help to 'keep working class people on board' during the crisis, and has been anxious to publicise this.

At the same time, faced with the threat of redundancy, problems relating to the government's furlough scheme and, above all, problems relating to workplace health and safety, thousands of workers have turned to the trade unions for advice, assistance and general support.

The National Education Union reports that its membership grew by 7,500 over one weekend as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The TUC's online joining page has seen union membership enquiries rise by 300%. Unions like GMB, Unison and Unite are also witnessing rapid membership rises in the current period.

An army of shop stewards and branch activists at grass-roots level have been tenaciously fighting against obdurate employers who would put their workers' lives at risk for the sake of profit, or for budget balancing.

Where the Tories have been forced to retreat nationally it has been in reponse to workers' pressure.

However, while the crisis has sharpened the conflict between workers and bosses in workplaces across the country, the TUC leadership has unfortunately moved in the opposite direction.

Many of the proposals in the TUC's report will be welcomed by workers; a ban on zero-hour contracts and bogus self-employment, and automatic membership of occupational pension schemes, for example.

But other proposals are vague and nave, such as adopting new business models to deliver a workplace voice in corporate governance, and government support for businesses taking the form of equity stakes conditional on fair pay and employment plans.

Proposals such as these, woolly and imprecise, are deliberately formulated in order to establish an alliance between the trade unions and the employers, as more radical demands would result in the employers rejecting such an alliance.

O'Grady has likened the post-coronavirus period to 1945, at the end of the Second World War, when, in her dubious interpretation of history, the nation pulled together to rebuild Britain. In this way she is seeking to reestablish the TUC as a 'credible' force in the nation.

What O'Grady appears to forget is that the credibility of the TUC ultimately rests with the millions of ordinary workers, and their preparedness to fight to defend their jobs and pay, not with a system of joint committees with the bosses.

The post-war economic upswing and the strengthening of the trade union movement laid the basis for the bosses and national governments to make some concessions to workers in the form of the welfare state and higher wages. But we are facing a totally different international economic and geopolitical situation today. A severe economic crisis and a failing capitalist system will mean an increase in industrial and class conflict.

The Tories may be nodding in the direction of the trade unions today, when they are in a mess, but for years they have waged outright war on trade union rights, particularly by restrictive laws which are like a minefield to any union contemplating industrial action.

The TUC proposals come just at the time that a leaked Treasury document was discussing how to make workers pay for the crisis.

The increased membership of the trade unions makes workers and the TUC potentially more powerful. Instead of looking to joint work with capitalists, the TUC should draw up a list of demands on jobs, wages, conditions of service, scrapping the anti-union laws, and restoring public sector funding, and should coordinate strike action across the trade union movement in support of these demands.

Ultimately, the interests of workers lie in the establishment of a socialist economy, where the major industries, financial institutions etc, are publicly owned and democratically controlled.

No amount of employer/employee committees will ever agree to such a fundamental transformation of society.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

TUC:

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network lobbying for a lead from the TUC

triangleNSSN rally: Workers must not pay the price of Covid

triangleDemand a fightback from the TUC and unions

triangleEast London Socialist Party: TUC 2020 - The state of the unions

triangleNSSN lobby of TUC

Covid:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Covid - A young workers' charter

triangleBritain's fragile Covid equilibrium is coming to an end

triangleCovid generation says 'fund our future'

Union:

triangleTUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

triangleA critical election for Unison general secretary

triangleReinstate Richie Venton

Workers:

triangleNHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

triangleBlame politicians, not workers and young people

Unions:

triangleJobs, training, pay, we want a future!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

17/9/20

Britain

Britain's fragile Covid equilibrium is coming to an end

16/9/20

NHS

NHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

16/9/20

Covid

Capitalist profit and the race to develop a vaccine

16/9/20

Covid

Covid and the third sector: for public planning, not charity stopgaps

16/9/20

Profit

Under the microscope

16/9/20

Covid

'Covid marshalls' must be accountable to communities

16/9/20

Covid

Blame politicians, not workers and young people

16/9/20

Brexit

Johnson's brinkmanship over EU deal deepens capitalist splits

16/9/20

Coronavirus

Sketch: The rule of six - some guidance from your government

16/9/20

Covid

Our lives and livelihoods at stake

9/9/20

Coronavirus

Safety overridden in drive to bolster the economy

9/9/20

Tories

U-turn Tories' splits are growing

9/9/20

Unison

A critical election for Unison general secretary

9/9/20

Minimum wage

Callous Tories threaten not to uprate the minimum wage

9/9/20

Covid

Under the microscope

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999