UNITE, with a membership of 1.4 million, wielding the power to strike and shut down vast proportions of industry, has reduced itself to begging the bosses’ Tory government instead of taking action to remove it!
The union’s latest statement calls for the Tory government to ‘think again’ over ending the furlough scheme.
The Unite press release reads: ‘With six weeks to go until the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the country’s leading union is today calling on the government to think again to avert immediate job losses and growing poverty for hundreds of thousands of working people.’
This is farcical. Soon they will be calling on the Tories to nationalise the banks! Despite the fact that they finance the Labour Party, they are not even appealing to the Labour Party to fight the Tories, and to kick out Starmer, so as to be able to do so. Instead, they are making a direct appeal to the bosses’ Johnson government to listen to reason and ‘think again’.
They are leaving Starmer to wreck the Labour Party and instead appealing directly to the Tory government, which has every intention of making the working class pay for the bosses’ economic crisis with savage cuts and closures. The Unite leaders have now reduced themselves to making humiliating appeals to the Tories, the same Tories that fought a civil war with the miners from 1984-85, and are now preparing savage cuts.
In fact, Unite boasts that it was the union which helped advise the Tory government on the creation of the furlough scheme in the first place. Now they want to become its permanent left advisers, at a time when they should be mobilising to put the Tories out!
The Unite press release continues: ‘Unite, which played a central role in negotiating the scheme, says that in July around two million workers were still on the scheme, more than had been anticipated, reflecting the continuing troubles for parts of the workforce and underlines that the economy is yet to recover from the crisis.’
The Unite union leaders think they have found their role in the class struggle and it is one of attempted collaboration with the Tories, rather than strike action to bring the Tories down, and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.
And they are not alone. In a letter just sent to Scotland’s First Minister Sturgeon and PM Johnson, GMB General Secretary Gary Smith said: ‘Rather than political posturing, our leaders need to take responsibility and properly collaborate on a credible energy and industrial strategy, ensuring affordable and secure supply, while stopping the mass export of the green jobs we need to support the delivery of our net zero targets.’
Instead of fighting for working class action against the Tories and Scottish nationalists, the union leaders are seeking to work out a programme for them. Nothing like this has been seen since the German trade union leaders in the 1930s volunteered to serve on Hitler’s ‘Labour Fronts’. At that time, some union leaders’ battle cry was to ‘join the DAF (Labour Front) and force it to the left!’ Their offer was rejected and instead they were imprisoned and then put into concentration camps.
The UK trade unions with their enthusiasm for Tory furloughing and its continuation have begun to tread along the same path as the German trade union leaders.
In fact, when Tory Chancellor Sunak first promoted the furlough scheme, he stood outside Downing Street flanked on the left by Frances O’Grady, leader of the TUC, and on the right by Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the bosses’ organisation, the CBI.
In 2019, the Tories launched the Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group (GSTAG) on which the TUC, the CBI and the government sit.
The Tories created the furlough scheme because they feared the movement of the working class rising up and they were not prepared to deal with a pandemic and a mass strike movement. Now it is payback time and every penny of the UK’s £2.4tn debt is to be clawed back from workers’ jobs, benefits, pensions, pay and conditions.
The ‘new normal’ as far as the Tories are concerned is not social distancing, self-isolating and masks – that has all been dumped – it is ‘sign or be sacked,’ ‘fire and rehire’ and zero-hours contracts and millions of jobless.
It is at this point that the union leaders, rather than launching an all-out fight to bring the Tories down, cry ‘now is the time to collaborate’!
A new leadership must be built in the UK trade unions and the present leadership must be sacked and replaced.
Workers and youth must join the WRP and the YS to build up the new revolutionary leadership in the struggle to bring down the Tories with a general strike and to go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.