BRENDAN BARBER, general secretary of the TUC, who doubles as a director of the Bank of England, has been at it once again, doing what he does best: trying to sell out workers, as the sacked Gate Gourmet workers and the FBU firefighters, among others, can well testify to.
The week started with the TUC trade unions, headed by Barber, mounting a 40,000-strong demonstration outside the Tory Party conference, on Sunday October 2nd. The demonstration condemned the coalition’s vicious attacks on the working class, the pensioners, the poor and the youth.
The march was a lot bigger than expected. There were tens of thousands of public sector workers marching, who were absolutely determined to take strike action on November 30, in view of the Tories’ arrogant rejection at any attempt at serious negotiations, and the coalition’s absolute determination to smash their pensions.
The march was on Sunday. After its sound and fury had abated a little, Barber got down to business on Tuesday, when he addressed a Tory conference fringe meeting, sharing a platform with Oliver Letwin, David Cameron’s policy chief, and the chief secretary to the Treasury, Alexander. He couldn’t wait to get together with the enemy.
Now we learn that in addition to the fringe meeting Barber held secret, private talks with Chancellor Osborne, and ‘Star Chamber’ boss Francis Maude, as well as with Letwin and Alexander.
The object of the talks was to try and find a form of words that would allow the trade union leaders to cancel the November 30 action, in order to go back to another round of pointless talks, and give the Tories more time for strike-breaking preparations and to organise to bring in emergency legislation against public sector strikes.
The problem of the ruling class is that the capitalist crisis is deepening, and capitalist Britain is skating on the thinnest of thin ice.
The ruling class wants more time and they are looking to the likes of Barber to provide them with it. Also, they are prepared to talk about nothing for a little longer, in order to give Miliband no excuse for not condemning the strike action and for not standing with the government.
It is at this type of moment that the ruling class always calls on their faithful servants, such as Barber, to intervene and do what is necessary to get them off the hook.
The next formal talks between union leaders and ministers will take place on October 24, just weeks before the one-day strike on November 30 takes place. The coalition wants Barber to prepare the ground for a compromise formula to allow the strike action to be postponed.
The membership of the 13 unions that are currently balloting for strike action, plus the four unions who stopped on June 30 and already have a mandate for action in November, will form the main force of the expected four million strikers.
On that day, there will be a massive million-plus demonstration in London.
It is obvious that the coalition is not looking forward to the experience, and what it will open the doors to.
There are already rumours that a ‘possible compromise’ to allow discussion to continue will be to propose changes in the way that the pensions changes are phased in, while accepting the changes.
The millions of workers who are currently balloting for strike action want the Tory pensions changes either smashed or withdrawn, and their current pensions’ arrangements respected and continued.
They must tell their union leaders to put a stop to Barber’s attempts to sell them out, and that the mass action must go ahead on November 30.
Further, the coalition must be informed that it will be just the first clash, and is the dress rehearsal for an indefinite general strike to resolve the pensions crisis by bringing down the government and bringing in a workers government.