THE TUC leadership reacted with shock when Theresa May made it quite clear that she had absolutely no intention of fulfilling her pledge to make companies put worker representatives on their board of directors.
On being appointed as unelected Prime Minster she made a whole raft of pledges designed to show that the Tories were going to break with the austerity policies of Cameron and Osborne and usher in a whole new world of ‘caring’ Toryism, that the Tories were now ‘the party of the workers, the party of public servants, the party of the NHS’.
The TUC swallowed the whole lying posturing of May hook, line and sinker. So desperate was it to believe that May would be either willing or able to reverse the catastrophic collapse of British capitalism that it welcomed her with open arms.
One promise in particular was grasped by the TUC as a lifeline – May’s pledge of workers on the board. The prospect of trade union bureaucrats being given a seat at the boss’s high table had the TUC leaders drooling.
By becoming a part of a corporatist set-up these leaders hoped to find a new role for the bureaucracy, having long ago abandoned even the pretence of fighting for their members’ jobs, wages and conditions. Refusing to lead any fight against the destruction of public services and the NHS, the TUC saw a future as junior partners with the bosses, helping them to sell cuts and closures to the workers as being economically necessary for the health of the company and of British capitalism.
That was certainly the experience of workers in the past where ‘workers representatives’ had seats on similar corporatist set-ups. 16 years ago Vauxhall workers at the giant car plant in Luton had first-hand experience of this class collaboration between union leaders and bosses.
The shock announcement that the plant would close and thousands of workers thrown on the dole was nothing to the shock of discovering later that the entire closure plan had been discussed and agreed on the General Motors European Works Committee, on which sat officials from their union, the TGWU, now Unite. Not only did they agree the closure and kept it from the members as a ‘company secret’ but they also agreed to do everything to prevent a fight to keep it open.
This is the corporatist collaboration that the TUC leaders have been desperately trying to sell as a victory for workers. Their willingness to collaborate was made clear in the TUC’s submission to the Tory chancellor in advance of this week’s Autumn statement.
This begged the Tories to: ‘Deliver on the commitment to include workers on company boards within a year, and build on this with a plan for more employee involvement in delivering higher productivity workplaces.’
In other words to collaborate with forcing speed up and wage cuts on their members. Now even this role has been snatched from them by May who yesterday announced to the bosses organisation, the CBI, that she had dropped this pledge, saying that: ‘This is not about mandating works councils, or the direct appointment of workers or trade union representatives on boards.’
TUC general secretary, Francis O’Grady, on hearing that was reduced to moaning impotently that ‘this is not the way to show that you want to govern for ordinary working people.’
It is the way, however, of showing that the Tories are determined to govern strictly in the interest of the banks and the remains of decaying British industry by waging an all-out war on the working class. Any hope of survival for British capitalism rests on imposing the full weight of the crisis on the backs of ordinary working people and driving them into abject poverty and destitution.
For the working class, the only way forward is to engage this fight by mobilising the full strength of the unions in a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism.
This requires removing the treacherous collaborators in the TUC and replacing them with a new leadership that is prepared to lead this struggle. Only the WRP is building such a leadership – join today.