ANYONE who was wondering why, at the TUC Congress, when union leaders were moving resolutions calling for coordinated industrial action against the Brown government’s below inflation staged wage ‘increases’ for the health service and local government, they constantly warned Brown that these must not be repeated next year, and said nothing about this year, now knows the answer to this riddle.
It is that the union leaders did not have the slightest intention of leading a struggle against this year’s staged pay cuts.
They are pulling out all of the stops to avoid an Autumn or Winter of discontent emerging against the Brown government.
The only group of workers that were able to break free from the bureaucratic stranglehold of the trade union bureaucracy, was the UNISON local government reps who, face to face with their leaders, refused to accept a staged pay ‘rise’.
They are now due to ballot on industrial action with the trade union bureaucracy pointing out, no doubt, that they will be on their own.
However, everybody now knows, after the illegal action of the prison officers, which was successful and furthermore went unpunished – since the government was too weak to use the anti-union laws – that if only one section stops work on one of the burning issues of the day, other sections of workers may not be willing to just stand by and watch.
The message of the hour is that the working class is saying that ‘enough is enough’. It is no longer willing to take betrayal after betrayal of its interests by the trade union bureaucracy, but is insisting that they be defended.
Just look at the Royal Mail.
The Hayes/Ward leadership of the CWU union called off their very effective strike actions and their national demonstration in favour of over four weeks of secret talks with the Royal Mail top management.
What emerged at the end of this period was a declaration by Royal Mail that the ‘period of calm’ was over and that they were going to impose their plans.
The union leaders were offered a deal after weeks of secret talks that was absolutely unacceptable, and was such an insult to trade unionists that the national executive and a national meeting of selected reps could not accept it.
To accept the deal would mean to wipe out the CWU.
Members will be shocked to see that Royal Mail is claiming in its document that the CWU negotiators supported their plans for flexibility and pension-busting, plans which not a single member will accept.
As well, the CWU leaders have not yet made a public declaration of the dates for strike actions and the national demonstration.
They are obviously not jumping for joy at the prospect of a struggle having to be waged to defend the legitimate interests of the CWU membership.
National strike action must be called by the CWU leaders, along with a national demonstration and a call for a meeting of the entire public sector trade union leaders so that the whole of the public sector can discuss taking action alongside the postal workers.
It is obvious that an injury to one is an injury to all and that a victory for the postal workers will be a victory for all trade unions, whereas a defeat will put a nail in the coffin of the entire public sector trade union movement.
The demand must therefore go out for a public sector alliance that will organise and take action to support the postal workers and to defeat Royal Mail and the government.
This is the way forward to victory.
Leaders who will not organise this fight must resign and make way for a leadership that is willing to fight to win the struggle, and has no interest in allowing Royal Mail to pauperise the CWU membership.
A new leadership has got to be built throughout the trade unions. Only the WRP is building this leadership. Join it today.