AT the Trades Union Congress in Brighton this week, delegates have given a relatively timid expression of the determination of millions of workers to fight the Brown government and stop its wage cuts.
Inspired by the ‘surprise’ one-day prison officers illegal strike – in defiance of the government and the anti-union laws – delegates representing one group of public sector workers after another got up to warn Brown that their members would accept nothing short of a pay rise in line with inflation.
The TUC leadership was forced to adapt to this anger. Thus the vote for the resolution suggesting that there could be coordinated industrial action throughout the public sector against Brown’s pay cut policies was virtually unanimous.
However, there was a big division at the conference between the mass of delegates who reflect the anger of the members, and the leaders of the big unions and TUC leader Barber, who are desperately defending the Labour government.
Forced by their members’ anger to vote for a referendum on the EU constitution, the TUC right wing voted against another resolution demanding a no vote, to try and placate Brown.
In yesterday’s debate on agency workers, Tony Woodley – the leader of the Transport and General Workers Union-UNITE – was forced to admit the obvious, that casual labour was now rife in every industry in Britain and that the trade union leaders have played a big part in allowing this to happen.
This confession did not mean that the likes of Woodley were questioning their reformist politics.
Leopards do not change their spots.
This was demonstrated at the Congress by the actions of the CWU postal union leaders, who revealed at the start of the Congress that Royal Mail had declared the ‘period of calm is over’, but that they would try and ‘maintain the calm’, despite the clear intention of Royal Mail bosses – with the government’s backing – to declare war on the CWU’s members from next Monday.
Meanwhile, the RMT’s Bob Crow was voted off the TUC General Council, after the rail union leader stunned the bosses by calling his members at Metronet out on strike to demand job, pay and pension guarantees at collapsed tube privateer Metronet, and continued to attack the Labour party.
Big business and Brown are very angry at Crow and the RMT, so the trade union bureaucracy slung him off the general council of the TUC to order, so to speak.
The TUC leaders do not want to break with the Brown government, or stop funding the Labour Party or take action to fight the government and the bosses instead to smash the wage cut policies.
But it is these actions that millions of workers in the TUC-affiliated unions are demanding.
The working class desperately needs a new revolutionary leadership, one that is prepared to defend the living standards of its members, their jobs, their NHS, their Welfare State and their basic rights through mass strike actions and a general strike.
We are in a situation of a desperate capitalist crisis where the bosses will demand that Brown goes much further in casualising the economy and imposes much bigger cuts in workers’ living standards.
What drives the government and businessmen it now openly represents is the financial catastrophe and slump that is developing.
The shadow of the Barber-Woodley betrayal of the Gate Gourmet sacked workers hung over the TUC Congress for the whole week of its deliberations.
The lesson of the Gate Gourmet workers struggle and of this week’s TUC is that the unions must have a new and revolutionary leadership.
Such leadership will go all the way to bring down the Brown government and replace it with a workers government that will bring in a socialist planned economy.
Only the Workers Revolutionary Party is building this leadership to replace the treacherous Barbers and Woodleys. Make sure you join it today.