IT is clear from Unite leader McCluskey’s article in the Guardian yesterday that he has learnt nothing from the struggles of the 1970s and 80s except that it is better to surrender as even bigger struggles erupt in the UK today.
At Grangemouth under his direction, union members were urged to reject the employer’s survival plan.
The employer responded with a closure and a lock-out. Unite under McCluskey’s leadership immediately surrendered, agreeing to three years of no strikes, and no wage rises, preparing the way for the ex-convenor to be pushed out of the plant.
In his piece in the Guardian, McCluskey defends himself by saying that the union has been doing this up and down the country for some time!
He writes that, ‘Unite has reached an agreement with the owner, Ineos, which will guarantee the future of skilled and well-paid work at Grangemouth well into the future. In essence, it is not different from the difficult discussions my union and others have had with many employers during the current banking slump, working to keep jobs alive while adapting to the position some companies find themselves in.’
This is surrender as a policy!
McCluskey added: ‘But there are far larger issues raised even than the future of one plant. Because what has happened at Grangemouth shines a vivid light on the nature of power in our society today. . .’
Like a good forgiving Christian, he adds: ‘It is hard to blame Ineos or any company for exercising the power we have for too long been happy to let them have. . .
‘And if you want to know what the consequences can be of standing out against this consensus, consider what has happened to Stevie Deans, the union branch secretary who resigned from Ineos this week, having been targeted by management as the “enemy within”.’
In fact, the lesson from this situation is that this is the consequence of a union going into a fight without the necessary determination and plan to win it.
McCluskey’s conclusion is that it is better not to fight at all. He holds up Stevie Deans and the working class as ‘victims’, as a warning of what will happen if other workers should dream of opposing the absolute power of the employing class.
He adds: ‘Today we are in the midst of something all too familiar to those of us who remember the 1970s and 1980s – a hysterical smear campaign directed against trade unions because we represent the only real organised challenge in society to the values and views of our bankrupt establishment.’
We remember the 1970s and 80s well. It was a time when the miners brought down the Heath government and forced Wilson to repeal all of the Tory anti-union laws.
That period began with great victories. The problem was that the trade union leaders, having brought down the Tories, were absolutely opposed to taking action to bring down the Callaghan government to go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
This allowed Thatcher in, to engage in the titanic battles with the NUM and the print trade unions, which were huge battles that could both have been won if the TUC had called a general strike.
As it was, the period closed on a revolutionary note with the masses bringing down Thatcher over the Poll Tax!
The lesson from the struggles of the 1970s and 80s is that the struggle has to be led and prosecuted right to the end, to the bringing in of a workers’ government and socialism. The ruling class has to be abolished!
McCluskey and Co are absolutely determined not to take on the bosses and the bankers and their governments.
They would rather see mass unemployment, unions further weakened, the NHS and the Welfare State abolished rather than take decisive action to defeat the enemy. Such action is calling an indefinite general strike to bring down the current coalition and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.
The trade union bureaucracy only knows how to surrender. We must now build a new and revolutionary leadership in the trade unions that will call decisive action to remove the ruling class and bring in socialism. The working class is not a ‘victim’, it is the fundamental force in society that, with revolutionary leadership, will bring in socialism.