AFTER only two days of the annual TUC Congress the message is startlingly clear, the trade union and the working class movement stands at a crossroads.
If left under the leadership of the present ‘tops’ the unions will be dragged along the road of confusion and betrayal.
This emerged starkly at Monday’s debate on fighting the Tory coalition plans to smash up the Welfare State, destroy jobs and pensions and wage open class war on the working class and middle classes.
This debate was long on militant sounding rhetoric but at its heart lay the premise that militant action, or the threat of it, would produce a U-turn by the coalition.
The call from the TUC leaders, echoed by both the right and left-wing, for ‘co-ordinated strike action’, days of protest, lobbying the Tory Party conference, etc., clearly did not frighten anyone in government.
Brendan Barber (TUC general secretary) made it clear that these speeches were not to be taken seriously when he announced that the motion passed did not mean breaking off attempts to secure an accommodation with the Tory-led coalition.
David Cameron’s official spokesman reciprocated when he said after the debate ‘We want there to be a genuine partnership with the trade unions’ and stressed that they did not want a return to the days of confrontation.
The ruling class have the measure of these leaders, they know that behind the militant posturing lies a complete commitment to maintain capitalism at any cost to the working class – while at the same time falling over backwards to prove their worth to capitalism and retain their privileged positions as worthy servants.
We only have to look to British Airways to see what this means in practice.
BA is locked in an all-out war to smash the resistance of cabin crew, members of Unite union, to savage cuts in jobs and conditions.
In the midst of this bitter battle, which has seen cabin crew members sacked and victimised, it was announced yesterday that the unions, including Unite and the GMB, have concluded an agreement to cut 500 jobs in BA’s customer services department at Heathrow.
This at a time when Unite, under pressure from its members, has called for a ‘co-ordinated’ response from all BA workers over the dispute.
Now we know what ‘co-ordination’ means for the Unite leaders.
BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, crowed that the agreement proved that BA was committed to a ‘strong relationship with the trade unions’, including Unite.
Walsh and Cameron are more than happy to have a harmonious and strong relationship with trade union leaders who willingly sell members’ jobs with the minimum amount of disruption. In fact, they are desperately relying on them to hold back the working class who will not passively accept pauperisation as the price for propping up a bankrupt capitalist system.
The alternative road to the one of defeat and betrayal offered by the reformist leaders of the TUC is the road of revolution.
For this it is necessary to remove these reformist leaders and replace them with a leadership that is determined to take on and bring down the coalition.
Such a leadership will fight, not for accommodation with the government, but for its removal through a general strike, that will bring in a workers government.
The catastrophic crisis of capitalism means that the days of compromise with capitalism are over for good, – the issue is now the working class taking power.
This means building the Workers Revolutionary Party as a matter of the greatest urgency from the masses of workers and youth who are being pitched into the struggle by the crisis.