LAST week at the annual conference of the TUC the largest union in the country, Unite, issued a grovelling plea to the Tory led coalition for the government to seek an exemption for the NHS from the free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and US.
This agreement – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – gives complete legal domination of US capitalism over the laws of the sovereign nations of Europe.
Under TTIP corporations and private investors have the right to sue governments for any breach of ‘free trade’, a euphemism for allowing these multi-national companies to insist that any legislation passed by a country, which in any way may be considered a hindrance to these companies screwing as much profit as possible out of workers, be made illegal.
Out would go any health and safety regulation, limits on working day, indeed anything that affects profitability could be made illegal under this agreement, including trade union rights.
The focus of Unite’s concern was the provision in TTIP which would render it illegal for governments to do anything to prevent privatisation of public services taking place and make it illegal for any future government to re-nationalise any industry or service that had been privatised.
In particular Unite warned that this agreement would make it impossible for a Labour government to undo privatisation of the NHS or railways.
What is absolutely clear is that the US capitalism is determined to stamp the authority and control of the multi-national corporations on European nations and bring all these countries under the iron-heel of US imperialism, subject to its laws and its courts.
Last Sunday the Tory Health Minister dismissed out of hand the plea to exclude healthcare from any agreement – he treated it with contempt, saying that it would not be in the interest of the private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.
The fact that the TUC could make such a plea to a Tory government minister speaks volumes for the treacherous outlook of the TUC and union leadership.
In complaining that this agreement would make re-nationalisation under a future Labour government impossible they are openly accepting that privatisation of the NHS is inevitable and that nothing can be done to stop it, the best that could be hoped for is that a future Labour government would re-nationalise these services.
As everyone knows the Labour leadership have no intention of re-nationalising anything and as far as Miliband and Balls are concerned TTIP and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) just provides them with a readymade excuse for reneging on any pledge they may make.
The TUC, which prides itself as being the ‘general staff’ of the trade union movement, by pleading with the Tories is starting from the position that all is lost as far as privatisation is concerned.
This defeatist position was underlined last week when the TUC refused to even discuss its own policy of considering a general strike.
Indeed one leader, Paul Kenny of the GMB, went out of his way to dismiss a general strike as ‘unreal’.
What is unreal is a general staff determined to surrender without even firing a shot.
The conference represented a sharp turn to the right by the TUC leaders in marked contrast to the determination of the working class to fight for the NHS and all the gains made in the past.
The issue of the hour is not accepting privatisation as an inevitable defeat but to immediately mount a campaign to stop any further privatisation through organising a general strike to bring down this government and bring in a workers government. This will tear up any capitalist trade agreements and renationalise all privatised industry and banks as part of a planned socialist economy.
For this to succeed requires kicking out this old and treacherous TUC leadership and replacing it with a new revolutionary general staff of the working class prepared to lead the struggle for power.
This requires the building up of the WRP and Young Socialists as a matter of the utmost urgency!