YESTERDAY, the TUC joined forces with the leaders of top business groups to beg Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the furlough scheme for workers laid off due to coronavirus, warning that if he didn’t Britain will be plunged into mass unemployment.
The TUC is urging Sunak to announce a continuation of the job support scheme until the end of the year, while the bosses are calling for it to be extended from April to July.
Both are united in their warnings to Sunak that British capitalism is ‘too fragile’ to withstand ending the furlough scheme in April, with TUC general secretary Francis O’Grady saying that the Tories had a ‘moral obligation’ to try and prevent mass unemployment.
Yesterday’s united front with the bosses follows Monday’s call by the TUC for Sunak to produce a ‘workers budget’ on March 3.
Along with keeping the job retention scheme going for the year, the TUC is asking Sunak nicely to increase permanently the £20 increase in universal credit and raise the national minimum wage to at least £10 an hour. All these measures it claims are necessary to ‘protect the economy and stimulate recovery.’
This is the overriding concern of the TUC – to protect a capitalist system whose only morality is profit at all costs.
Overwhelmed by a £2.2 trillion national debt, Sunak has made it clear that his only priority at the budget on March 3 is to cut the deficit – not to increase debt by supporting laid off workers indefinitely.
As for a ‘workers budget’, there has never been a budget in history that has placed the interests of the working class before the profits of the bosses and bankers.
The TUC leaders of course are fully aware of this and their ‘workers budget’ has been put forward not in any expectation that the Tories will actually listen to them but in order to try and convince workers that begging for help from a capitalist government is the only option.
While the TUC was lining up with the bosses, yesterday workers had a very stark reminder of the treatment they can expect at the hands of the capitalist state.
This was the appearance at the Court of Appeal by building workers who were prosecuted and jailed for the crime of picketing during the 1972 national building workers strike.
The TUC washed its hands of the frame-up of these 24 Shrewsbury building workers and it has taken nearly 40 years of campaigning for the state and police forces to be called to account.
In the great miners strike of 1984-85 the TUC leaders actively worked with the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher to keep the miners isolated, while Thatcher mobilised the police and army in an attempt to smash the National Union of Mineworkers as part of her drive to smash the entire trade union movement in Britain.
The miners weren’t defeated by Thatcher and the capitalist state, they were betrayed by the TUC which fought to prevent any other strike action in the country that would have united with the miners and brought Thatcher down.
Today the TUC is preparing an even greater betrayal – to prevent at all costs workers using their huge strength to bring down this weak Tory government and let mass unemployment rip.
There can be no doubt that the working class is the most powerful class in society and that the unions are more than capable of dealing with this government.
This was demonstrated conclusively by the teaching unions, whose refusal to obey the Tory instruction to return to work forced the Tories to make a humiliating climb down over school reopening.
The TUC leaders are acting as nothing but a prop for the Tories and this bankrupt capitalist system and the time is long overdue to kick them out and replace them with a new leadership that will mobilise the working class in a general strike to bring down the government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
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