THE Trade union bureaucracy, led by TUC leader Barber and Unison leader Prentis, have shown clearly, with their position that the trade unions have got as much as they can get on the pensions issue, that they are prepared to help the bosses not only smash public sector pensions, but also to dismantle the Welfare State.
It is not just that they are ‘all right Jack’, since they are on the plushest of final salary pensions. They are reformist trade union leaders who believe that capitalism is the only possible form of society and that the role of the working class is to keep the system going, while their role is to stop the working class getting out of hand.
For carrying out that role they hope to ascend from sometimes humble beginnings to end their days as members of the House of Lords gentlemen’s club, tolerated there by a grateful ruling class.
They believe that in good times reforms are possible, but when boom turns into slump, and a booming stock market turns into a worldwide financial disaster, nothing can be done.
Their policy, in this situation, is that since rape seems inevitable, as far as they are concerned, the working class must be got to accept it with as much good cheer as can be mustered.
This is why the House of Commons yesterday heard the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Alexander, heap praise on the TUC leadership, led by Brendan Barber, who has laboured long and hard to get the trade unions to accept the pensions medicine for their members.
While the Tory-led coalition was falling over itself to congratulate the TUC, the PCS leadership was being lambasted for refusing to sell out its members and told that there would be no more talks for it.
In fact, the coalition is planning to use the TUC traitors to try to keep the mass of workers quiet as they set out to make examples of the PCS and a number of the teaching unions that are refusing to halt the strike actions and accept that their members have no right to a decent pension or retirement age.
This tactic is not new of course. We saw it in operation during the miners’ strike in 1984-85 and during the printers’ struggle when News International locked out Fleet Street in 1986-1987.
This time it must be stopped in its tracks.
Yesterday, the NASUWT replied to the TUC sell-out merchants saying that ‘The Coalition Government has still not provided any information on the need for reform to the TPS and today’s statement confirms that teachers will be expected to pay more, receive less and work longer for their pensions . . .
‘The NASUWT has not signed the DfE Heads of Agreement document and has reserved its position insisting on the need for further information to be provided, including on the equalities impact of the government’s proposed reforms to the pension scheme.’
The GMB also spoke up saying that there were now new conditions attached to the local government deal and that the employers contribution was to be capped at 10.1 per cent. It was now re-evaluating its signing of the Heads of Agreement document.
What is happening is that the trade union bureaucracy is finding that although it is prepared to hand over the Welfare State to the coalition for destruction, the millions of members of the unions are not prepared to do so.
The News Line urges every trade union branch to protest to their union leaders at the attempt to hand the pensions of five million workers over to the coalition.
There must be mass lobbies of all of the union head offices and all the meetings of the national executive committees when they meet in the New Year to discuss whether to accept the destruction of their members’ pensions or fight it.
The membership must speak up loud and clear. What is required is further action, and the resignation of all those union leaders who are not prepared to call it.
The trade unions must use their full power to bring the coalition down and go forward to a workers government to nationalise the banks and the major industries to put an end to British capitalism. This is the only way forward.