AT the September Labour Party and TUC conferences the trade union leaders, amongst them the leaders of the UNISON trade union, made out that they were out-and-out opponents of the below-inflation wage rises (wage cuts) that were being forced onto the public sector by the Labour government.
However, when it came to fighting the wage cuts it was noticeable that the leaders gave grim warnings to Prime Minister Brown that they would be fighting these wage cuts ‘next year.’
Many union members responded to this by stating that they wanted to fight this year’s wage cuts.
However, the union leaders had already agreed that there would be no fight. Instead, they would concentrate on assisting Gordon Brown establish his premiership.
This they did. In doing so, they were continuing with the policy they had adopted in relation to Brown’s unopposed nomination for Labour leader and Premier.
They made sure that his only credible opponent, John McDonnell, did not get a look-in, to the extent of not inviting him to address the London May Day rally.
Clinching proof that this subservience to Brown was, and remains, the political position of the trade union leadership was delivered yesterday by the UNISON leadership.
It announced that in a ballot of its local government members 144,719 valid ballot papers were returned, with 74,631 members (or 51.6 per cent) voting for strike action and 70,088 (48.4 per cent) voting against.
There was a majority of 4,543 for strike action in a ballot where there was a 24.4 per cent turn-out.
The members had decided in a legal ballot to take strike action, against low pay and the wage cut offer of the Brown government.
The UNISON leaders’ reaction to this shock was to declare that there was not going to be any strike action.
So much for trade union democracy!
The UNISON statement says: ‘The ballot result was considered by the union’s NJC committee and local government service group executive.
‘The NJC committee welcomed the majority vote in the ballot by members for strike action in the current pay dispute.
‘But it overwhelmingly voted for a statement which read: “However, in all the circumstances, including the narrowness of the majority and the size of the poll, this result does not constitute the basis for viable industrial action to break the government’s pay policy”.’
The majority for strike action was much bigger than in many parliamentary elections, while the turn-out was no smaller than in most trade union ballots.
Recently, the TGWU and AMICUS decided to amalgamate with a similar turn out of their membership.
None of the leaders of either trade union said that the election should be declared null and void.
The UNISON leaders have no stomach for a fight against a Labour government, and their immediate reaction to a vote by their members to fight Brown is to stab their members in the back.
If they will not fight this year’s wage cut, they will not fight next year’s either.
They have now given their members early warning of this fact.
A new leadership must be built in the trade unions.
It must be a leadership that is prepared to use the massive strength of the working class to bring down the Brown government and replace it with a workers government that will nationalise the banks and the major industries, to bring in socialism.
Only the WRP is building the type of Marxist leadership that is necessary. Workers and youth must join the WRP today to build the leadership that will organise the British socialist revolution.