THE WINDRUSH scandal, missiles launched at Syria without even seeking permission from Parliament, the Grenfell fire disaster, the winter NHS meltdown, homelessness and rough sleeping soaring, sky-high university fees … each of these is big enough to warrant bringing down Tory PM Theresa May and her split and divided minority government.
The only reason Theresa May and the Tory party remain in power is because the Labour Party and the leadership of the trade union movement, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) won’t mobilise millions to bring them down.
Today, thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters, postal workers, council workers, civil servants, lecturers, are being joined by students and youth to march through Central London on the protest demonstration called by the TUC to demand ‘a new deal for working people’. However, working people already know that there will be no ‘new deal’ from the Tories. Their programme remains the same. It is austerity, more austerity and yet more austerity! The needs of the hour go well beyond protest marches.
The junior doctors came out on strike time and time again in 2016, the university lecturers came out, the college lecturers are coming out this month, teachers are balloting, students are on rent strike, hospital workers are striking. The working class is on the move.
The TUC leaders are acting as a rearguard not a vanguard! They are more interested in working with the Tory government to attempt to persuade them to lessen their attacks on the working class, to be more humane, and to negotiate a ‘new deal’ as they call it.
When the private outsourcing giant Carillion collapsed, the TUC jumped at the chance to join the Tory government’s National Taskforce on Carillion. They are a silent party on this taskforce. The TUC act as prisoners of the government, and actually give this do-nothing taskforce some credibility.
In fact, the TUC launched the call for May to form the taskforce. The TUC wants a small say in the running of capitalism. They want to be officially recognised as, what Lenin called them, the ‘Labour Lieutenants of Capitalism’, whereas what the working class wants is a leadership that puts an end to austerity, and the food banks and pauperism that go with it, with thousands sleeping on the streets and children going to school hungry.
3.1 million children live in poverty in the UK. These are not the children of unemployed parents, they are the children of working parents with jobs! How do we know? Because the TUC compiled the figures, they did the research. What are they going to do about it? Absolutely nothing.
Over a third of low-paid workers have had to skip meals, sitting at home in the dark and cold because they have no money for food, electricity and heating, research by the Living Wage Foundation revealed last month. However, the TUC has not lifted a single finger to fight Tory austerity cuts or cuts to benefits. In fact, it has accepted every single cut and closure, every single wage freeze and pay cap. All they ever do is appeal to the Tories to ‘see sense’.
In fact, as the economic crisis deepens, the Tories hack and slash at wages and benefits, close libraries and parks and privatise anything with a pulse. This is the nature of the Tory government, representatives of a ruling class which is desperately fighting for the survival of capitalism. The latest example of complete betrayal by the trade union leaders is the ‘pay deal’ offered to NHS workers. The deal of 6.5% over three years or about 2.2% a year, considering inflation is at 3%, is a real terms pay cut!
All the main health unions, with the exception of the GMB, are urging their members to accept what is in effect a pay cut. In other words, union leaders are working on behalf of the government to attempt to beat their own members into accepting abject poverty, food banks, payday loans and the constant threat of eviction. It is time for the working class to rise up in opposition to its own union leaders and say, ‘No, this is a situation we cannot and will not accept; either you fight or get out of the way!’
The TUC march today must be dominated by the demand for the TUC leaders to stop begging the Tory government to ‘change course’ and instead mobilise for an all-out general strike to bring this government down. And if they refuse, an emergency congress of the TUC must be called and these leaders must be replaced by a new leadership calling an indefinite general strike. This is the only way forward – so join the WRP and its youth movement the Young Socialists today to fight for it!