THE general secretary of the Unite union Len McCluskey has responded to Labour’s massive council election defeats and its disastrous loss in the Hartlepool by-election by telling Sir Keir Starmer to ‘reach out to the left’, signalling that the trade union leaders are prepared to continue propping him up despite the massive damage that he has caused to the working class in the UK.
McCluskey limited his demands to bringing back Jeremy Corbyn, whose notorious support for a second Brexit referendum and his refusal to fight the right wing cost Labour the December 2019 General Election.
In fact, the Tories after taking advantage of Starmer’s bankruptcy, are now working for a truce with the Scottish Nationalists, ‘to put the UK back on its feet’, by continuing to make the UK working class pay for the massive capitalist debt crisis with their rapacious fire and rehire policies that have made life miserable for millions of workers.
Starmer has saved the Tories for the moment as Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove made clear when he said that he hoped Scottish independence would not be discussed at the forthcoming Covid summit, as the aim of the conversation was ‘to see how we can work together even better’ on the pandemic response.
This means they will be pushing up unemployment, throughout the UK and pushing harder for the bosses ‘fire and rehire’ offensive to make workers in major trade unions like the GMB, Unite and Unison accept massive wage cuts, speed ups and mass sackings.
The worldwide capitalist crisis is now rapidly worsening and there is going to be a huge growth in unemployment, wage-cutting, and joblessness amongst youth. For millions of workers fire and rehire will mean the sack.
With Starmer completely exposed as an agent of the ruling class in the workers’ movement, the major trade unions are now actually turning towards PM Johnson.
At a time when the Labour right wing has spectacularly collapsed there has never been a better moment for the TUC trade union leadership to develop some backbone, to tell Johnson that he must withdraw fire and rehire or else the TUC will call a general strike to bring him down.
Now the trade union leaders are going for a big deal sell-out with Johnson. Ahead of the Queen’s Speech tomorrow, the GMB and Unite trade unions are urging the Johnson government to outlaw fire and rehire in a new Employment Bill. The GMB says that more than three-quarters of the public want fire and rehire to be made illegal.
The GMB leadership has already proven itself to Johnson when they allowed hundreds of British Gas engineers to be sacked after they refused to sign up to a 15% cut in pay rates and other imposed changes on their terms and conditions.
These workers were opposing fire and rehire! and the GMB allowed them to be sacked. Now, Warren Kenny, GMB Acting General Secretary says: ‘Fire and rehire is a dirty, bullying tactic used by unscrupulous bosses.’ Quite, this is why Johnson supports it.
A shocked GMB said: ‘While fire and rehire is legal in the UK and banned elsewhere this remains a broken promise. At the moment, they won’t even publish the review of fire and rehire that they commissioned – what have they got to hide? Even after the sacking of hundreds of GMB engineers, the union calls on the government to make fire and rehire illegal and end this cruel, outdated practice for good.’ It announced: ‘They can make a start by announcing it on Tuesday.’ The Tories will do nothing of the sort.
Unite is now staging socially distanced protests across the UK to highlight the fire and rehire scandal and put further pressure on Tory MPs to act. In particular, Unite is targeting the constituencies of so-called ‘red wall’ Conservative MPs, where the threat of fire and rehire is understood to be especially acute.
Unite regional secretary for Yorkshire Karen Reay said: ‘We’re not interested in sympathetic words from the government; we want action to protect the workers of this region. While fire and rehire is legal in this country, no worker is safe.’
Millions of trade unionists must tell the GMB, Unite and the TUC trade union leaders they must fight the Tory government and organise a general strike to bring the Tories down.
A huge change in leadership is required in the trade unions to prevent the Tories rerunning the ‘Hungry 30s’. In fact, now is the time for workers to join the WRP and build a revolutionary leadership in the trade unions, to call an indefinite general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a Workers’ Government and socialism.
This is the only way to smash the ‘fire and rehire’ drive by the Tories and the bosses. Join the WRP and the YS today to take this vital struggle for the general strike to smash the Tories forward.
At a time when capitalism is in a desperate worldwide crisis a socialist revolution in the UK will provide an example for workers in the EU and the USA to follow, to put an end to capitalism, and establish a World Socialist Republic.