The Institute of Directors (IoD) has proposed a 24-point plan to the Tory-led coalition government to save British capitalism.
Central to their ‘blueprint for growth’ is the assertion that what British capitalism requires, above all, is the ending of collective bargaining in the National Health Service and in Education, a ban that they would like to see extended throughout the entire public sector.
This, they assure the government, would boost ‘private sector productivity’.
Teachers and NHS workers may well be puzzled as to how axing collective bargaining for them will magically boost productivity in the private sector.
The answer can only be that the IoD has in mind an immediate future where both these public services are privatised completely.
Naturally, ending collective bargaining in the public sector is only the very thick end of a wedge that results in ending collective bargaining everywhere.
Collective bargaining lies at the very heart of trade unionism.
When the IoD proposes ending collective bargaining they are consciously advocating a return to the 19th century and beyond – to a time in the history of British capitalism when trade unions were illegal, when pay and conditions were set by the bosses to achieve the absolute maximum of exploitation of the only class that produces value, the working class.
What they are proposing, in short, is nothing less than the abolition of trade unions entirely – if a union has lost the right to collectively bargain on behalf of its members then it ceases to be a trade union and becomes little more than a ‘friendly society’.
Unions could no longer call legal strikes as the courts would rule that they do not represent workers in issues involving pay and conditions.
To underline this class war strategy, the IoD has a few more interesting proposals, mainly to scrap any legal rights that workers might have to employment.
In pursuit of their desire to create a system whereby workers can be hired and fired at whim by the employer, they propose the introduction of a £500 deposit for any worker intending to take an unfair dismissal case – or any case come to that – against an employer.
Behind all these demands is the IoD’s call for the coalition to step up its slash and burn policies on public spending, accusing them of ‘not doing enough, quickly enough’.
They are all too aware that this will provoke an unprecedented uprising amongst workers and youth, hence the absolute necessity of capitalism to smash the unions as fighting organisations of the working class.
The TUC’s response to the IoD plans has been to dismiss them as living in a ‘Thatcherite fantasy world’.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The IoD speaks for a powerful section of the Tory Party that is preparing for civil war against the working class.
Their demands echo those of right-winger Boris Johnson who has called for all strikes to be made illegal, and Francis Maude, a more collegiate minister in the coalition, who has stated that such measures, whilst regrettable, may become very necessary.
It is the TUC leadership that is living a fantasy; they believe that out of this huge crisis there will still be a place for the TUC leaders at the capitalist bargaining table.
What is clear is that the reformist dunderheads in the TUC will not and cannot defend trade unions today.
The only way to do that is through the building of a new, revolutionary leadership within the unions, a leadership prepared to answer this declaration of war with the organisation of the general strike to kick out this coalition government and go forward to a workers government.