THE deepening capitalist crisis is creating the conditions for a showdown between Labour and Capital – over who runs this country, and for whose benefit they are running it – of a type that has not been seen since the 17th century.
Everywhere trade union leaders are offering wage cuts, and job cuts and even unpaid holidays, on behalf of their members, and everywhere they are finding that these offers are not enough for the bosses. They have announced that if they are to survive the crisis they must have draconian permanent changes of a type that workers are not prepared to accept.
In the CWU, the union leaders allowed the Royal Mail and the government to get rid of the final salary pension scheme, impose a wage freeze, and impose draconian and impossible conditions of service – but part-privatisation was a bridge too far, the membership and the working class would not accept it.
In vain, after the shelving of part-privatisation, the CWU leaders have offered talks, and to be model partners of Royal Mail in bringing in ‘modernisation’.
Royal Mail and the government are not even listening to them. They are determined to have a privatised, casualised industry and to drive out the CWU.
The union leaders have had to agree to strike actions and demonstrations this Friday, since more and more of their members are demanding national strike action and a general strike.
The fire authorities are meanwhile determined to impose shift changes and conditions of service that the firefighters are even more determined not to allow.
The fire authorities have got ready for action. They have awarded the AssetCo plc a five-year contract for the provision of an Emergency Fire Crew Capability Service to the London Fire Brigade (LFB) of up to 700 staff trained to provide a ‘contingency firefighting service.’
The fire bosses are getting ready to provoke a strike action and to break it!
At Corus the Unite and GMB trade unions have done everything that they could to give the bosses what they want, from wage cuts to voluntary redundancies. These concessions have just made the Corus bosses lick their lips and go for more. They have announced over 2,000 sackings and the Unite and GMB union leaders have no answer since they refuse to campaign for the steel industry to be renationalised.
It is the same story at BA. The unions have offered wage cuts, the scrapping of the current terms and conditions of service, and voluntary no-paid holidays – but, driven by the crisis the boss wants every change to be made permanent, for all time.
Because of the deep crisis of capitalism the survival requirements of the bosses cannot be voluntarily agreed by the workers – hence the sharpening class struggle.
Yesterday before the lobby of the BA shareholders the GMB slogan was ‘The broadest backs must carry the heaviest loads. . .’ – a very strange slogan for a trade union.
Again, the Unite and the GMB leaders will not demand the renationalisation of BA. They are the ones that resemble lemmings with their insistence that the working class commit suicide by giving up all of its gains, instead of fighting for nationalisation and a better life under socialism.
It is the same at GM Luton, where the union leaders are frightened to call a mass meeting because they are opposed to a campaign to nationalise the plant.
The developing class war is inevitable. To win it the workers must purge their unions at national and local level of leaders who are not prepared to fight.
They must say no to sackings and wage cuts, fight closures with occupations, and launch a struggle for a general strike, nationalisation and a workers government.
Central to this task is the building up of the revolutionary leadership of the WRP.