THE TUC last Friday ‘reaffirmed’ its calls on the government to take over the running of P&O Ferries passenger and freight services ‘as a last resort’.
The TUC was at pains to insist that the Tories should only step in and take over the company if a ‘fit and proper’ operator couldn’t be found to take over.
P&O have been unable to carry on operating its ferry service after the unlawful sacking of 800 workers in March.
Since then P&O vessels have failed safety inspections carried out by the Maritime Coastguard Agency with the TUC saying there are ‘significant concerns’ about the ability of P&O to operate safely ‘especially given the loss of so many highly-trained and qualified staff’.
Commenting on the TUC demand for the Tories to step in as a last resort, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘P&O should mark a new chapter for workers’ rights in this country’ before lamenting that the government ‘has quietly shelved the employment bill which was supposed to make Britain the best country in the world to work.’
No worker in the country believes that the Tories will do anything to force the reinstatement of the 800 sacked workers. They didn’t just quietly shelve the employment bill that was supposed to protect the rights of workers. It was dumped along with all the other promises of levelling up.
As for P&O, the Tories aren’t even interested in enforcing existing laws that make it a legal requirement for employers to give notice and engage in negotiations with unions when sackings are planned.
P&O drove a coach and horses through all the employment legislation and the Tory government allowed them to get away with it. The Tories are not going to nationalise P&O Ferries unless they are forced to do so – not because the TUC issues a demand.
O’Grady and the TUC leaders are oblivious of the fact that in the Johnson government the working class faces an enemy that has demonstrated complete contempt for any of the rules or laws that are supposed to be sacrosanct in bourgeois democracy.
The evidence for this is piling up.
At the weekend, the press reported that, far from PM Boris Johnson being found guilty of breaking just one law by ‘inadvertently’ popping into a leaving party for ten minutes, he actually instigated the party when he arrived and started pouring out the drinks.
Johnson stands accused of multiple instances of law breaking and – a sacking offence – ‘deliberately lying to parliament’.
Johnson treats parliament with the same contempt he and the Tories hold for the working class. This contempt has been most striking in the proposal to send refugee asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
Despite the outcry this has caused, even amongst Tory MPs, and the universal condemnation for breaking international laws on the treatment of asylum seekers, Johnson and his Home Secretary, Priti Patel, have shrugged off all criticism and declared they will plough ahead with creating Britain’s very own Guantanamo Bay in Rwanda.
Johnson thinks he is truly untouchable, able to do whatever he wants to, because he is playing a role in the developing imperialist war against Russia.
Having placed himself in the pocket of the US ruling class, by cultivating their allies the Ukrainian fascists, Johnson feels empowered to rip up the bourgeois democratic rule book, treat parliament and its laws with contempt and impose his diktats on the working class and its trade unions.
The truth is however different – the working class has the power to stop Johnson in his tracks. Already the civil service unions have threatened mass walk-outs to prevent the implementation of the illegal Rwandan policy.
The time has come for the entire trade union movement to withdraw any cooperation with the Tories by forcing the TUC to stop just issuing demands and start backing them up with action.
Workers and young people must not wait for action until the TUC demonstration on 18 June. They must demand immediate mass indefinite general strike action and mass demonstrations to drive the Tories out of office and go forward to a workers’ government. This will expropriate the bosses and bankers, nationalise the major industries under workers’ management, and resolve the refugee crisis by welcoming workers from every country to join building socialism!