THE ELECTRONIC ‘consultation’ being carried out by the Unite and GMB unions with their members employed by BA is not just a travesty of trade unionism but a complete betrayal of every principle that workers have fought for in 200 years of struggle to build independent organisations to fight for their interests against the bosses.
In the joint letter sent out by both unions, members were told point blank that they had only two choices in this consultation.
The first choice, and the one clearly favoured by Unite and GMB leaders, was to vote ‘Yes to secure your employment with BA today’.
Voting ‘Yes’ means accepting BA’s offer of a cut in wages of 11% and being forced to take unpaid leave of five weeks per person during the winter months.
In addition, workers will get no shift pay increases and the pay deal agreed previously with the unions due to be implemented next year will be permanently scrapped.
If workers vote ‘No’ the letter insists it means they are accepting ‘165 colleagues being issued with an immediate Compulsory Redundant notice’.
Workers expect the employers to blackmail and threaten them in the course of bitter disputes, what they don’t expect is their unions to become the messengers, in effect, acting on behalf of the bosses and carrying out their dirty work for them.
Nowhere in this document is there any suggestion that the union will fight for the jobs and conditions of its members.
Indeed, both Unite and the GMB, the two most powerful unions in the country, have thrown in the towel and surrendered to BA.
Instead of giving a lead by immediately calling for industrial action by their members to defend jobs, wages and conditions they have thrown the members to the wolves by leaving it up to individual members to decide whether or not to accept compulsory redundancy or accept cuts to wages and conditions.
The entire basis of trade unionism was precisely that individual workers on their own were powerless in the face of the bosses and the capitalist state.
That only through the collective strength of the working class organised in trade unions could workers fight and win improvements in wages and conditions often in a bitter struggle against avaricious employers.
This determination to build independent unions as fighting organisations has been thrown out the window by the present trade union bureaucracy in favour of a return to the days of the helpless individual.
The actions of the Unite and GMB leadership represent the continued degeneration of the union bureaucracy which is growing closer to the employers and the Tory government, continually adapting to the requirements of a bankrupt capitalist system and seeking to win support from the capitalist state to keep its comfortable positions.
The way to put an end to this class collaboration is for Unite and GMB members throughout the country to demand an emergency national conference at which these leaders can be called to account and replaced by a new leadership that will mobilise the entire union movement to defend every job and condition by calling national strike action and occupations of industries threatened with closure.
This will give a lead to every union to take up the fight to kick out these class collaborators and replace them with a revolutionary leadership that will organise a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
The trade union movement stands at the crossroads today.
If the old reformist leaders are left in place they will continue to try to demoralise workers with their policy that nothing can be done except to submit to a capitalist system that can only survive through mass unemployment and super exploitation of the working class.
The only alternative is to replace them with the revolutionary leadership of the WRP throughout the trade unions that will mobilise the full strength of the working class to seize power, smash capitalism and advance to socialism.
Join the WRP today to build this leadership – there is not a moment to lose.