MAY DAY saw thousands of workers, among them Peugeot motor car workers, hospital workers facing the threat of redundancy, locked out Gate Gourmet workers, and workers fighting to retain their final salary pensions on the march through London from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Square.
They were angry at the employers, and at the Labour government’s privatisation policies and its complete support for the employers’ decisions to move many thousands of jobs out of Britain and end all final salary pension schemes.
They were also angry at their own union leaders for their refusal to defend their interests.
There has not been a single serious struggle to defend jobs in the motor car industry.
The reason is simple. Such a struggle would mean occupying threatened plants and demanding that the Labour government nationalise these plants, something that a Labour government would refuse to do, meaning that it would have to be replaced by a workers’ government.
The trade union bureaucracy supports the Blair government and is opposed to any real struggle against it. This is why it is refusing to fight the menace of NHS privatisation. At UNISON’s recent Health Conference, it took really massive anger from health workers over NHS redundancies to get a pledge out of the UNISON leader, Dave Prentis, that if his members took strike action against cuts, the union would back them.
At Gate Gourmet, when over 760 workers were sacked at a minute’s notice, the TGWU leadership made a deal with the company as quickly as possible, agreeing to mass redundancies and the company’s survival plan. This sell-out has been bitterly opposed by hundreds of workers, who are demanding a struggle to defeat the US company.
In the struggle over final salary pensions the union leaders, when faced with struggle, have thus far cut and run, conceding the end of final salary pensions and an extension on the retirement age of between five and ten years.
No wonder the working class is angry at their leaders.
It is this anger that has produced the crisis in the Blair government, because Blair and Brown are determined to carry on attacking workers.
The trade union bureaucracy’s solution to this critical situation was put forward yesterday by TGWU leader Tony Woodley and Amicus’ Derek Simpson.
Woodley said that Blair should step down at once since this would restore stability and unity to the Labour Party, and that a Trade Union Freedom Act should be passed to allow trade unionists to take solidarity action in certain circumstances.
Derek Simpson warned that if the government fails to address issues such as pensions, job insecurity and NHS cuts, it will result in a disastrous defeat at the next general election.
In fact, Blair stepping down for Brown would be Tweedle Dum being replaced by Tweedle Dee. The Labour government might be re-united for a few weeks, but it would continue to be at war with the working class.
Simpson’s call to change policy will fall on deaf ears since Blair and Brown agree on a policy to suit the CBI. Blair is also on record, as is Brown, as saying that Labour will not change or modify a single Tory or Labour anti-union law, not even to assist the trade union bureaucracy saving face.
Nothing will be given to the trade unions by Labour governments that are determined to carry on with Thatcherism.
In fact, the only way to keep out the Tories is for the trade unions to start fighting for their members at Gate Gourmet and Peugeot, and other hot-spots, with a determination to defeat the bosses and the bosses’ government, led by Blair.
This will create the conditions for bringing down the Blair government and for going forward to a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies, including smashing all of the anti-union laws, and nationalising aggressive anti-union companies.
This task requires the building of a new and revolutionary leadership in the unions, that will use the great strength of the working class to defeat the bosses and the government to go forward to socialism. Only the WRP is building this leadership. Join it today.