|The News Line: Editorial
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
General Strike to answer Tory strike ban
ON Friday the Tories finally produced their plans to ban strikes throughout the public sector should they win the next general election.
Draconian new legislation to augment the battery of anti-trade union legislation already on the statute books, will centre on increasing the ballot threshold required to call ‘legal’ strike action in certain core public services.
These services include health, transport, fire services and schools.
Under the proposed new laws, any ballot for strike action by these workers would require not just a simple majority of those voting to be in favour but require that over 40% of eligible union members actually participate in the vote before any majority for strike action can even be considered as lawful.
In addition, the Tories are also pledging to end the ban on using agency staff as scabs during strike action and to beef up laws to protect any strike breakers crossing picket lines.
George Osborne made it perfectly clear in his autumn statement that any future Tory government would have as its priority the complete destruction of all public services through a campaign of massive cuts and privatisation.
By the TUC’s own reckoning, one million jobs will be destroyed as the Tories wage war against the public sector in their drive to reduce state spending to levels last seen in the 1930s in order to bring down the budget deficit.
In the face of this onslaught, the working class will have no option but to turn to the only weapon available to it – the democratic right to withdraw its labour, a right that the unions fought for and won through years of struggle.
By effectively ending the right to strike and enacting legislation protecting mass scabbing actions by ‘agency staff’, the Tories are gearing up the capitalist state for all out-war against the working class, where not only strikes but trade unions themselves are declared illegal.
Take away the right to strike and you effectively destroy trade unions.
What this weak, discredited and hated Tory party is attempting, is a return not just to the 1930s but to the early 19th century with its anti-combination laws which made membership of a trade union an offence punishable by imprisonment.
While the Tories are putting the capitalist state on a war footing, the leadership of the trade unions is only preparing for surrender.
TUC leader Francis O’Grady denounced it as ‘undemocratic’, while Paul Kenny of the GMB talked about the unfairness of it all, pointing out that under these rules only 15 Tory MPs would have been elected in 2010.
The TUC bemoaned the fact that the Tories had rejected its proposals to introduce on-line voting to boost turn-outs, as if the Tories had any interest whatsoever in actually helping unions in strike ballots.
Their position was summed up by Unite’s general secretary, Len McClusky, who said about the coming fight in the public sector: ‘The way to resolve such disputes is through negotiations – not to intimidate and silence by legislation.’
The days of ‘conciliation not confrontation’ are long gone – smashed up by the world crisis of capitalism which is demanding that the working class – the only class that produces real value – be transformed into virtual slaves.
Workers are to be denied the right to withhold their labour and forced by law to accept every pay cut, every speed up, every cut in pension, every forced unpaid overtime and finally to passively accept seeing their jobs destroyed, all so that the bankers’ debt can be repaid.
These TUC leaders are not just a disgrace, they are a treacherous fifth column of capitalism within the workers movement.
The urgent issue confronting the working class is to remove these leaders and build a leadership that is prepared to organise the powerful working class to defeat these class war preparations through calling a general strike to kick out the government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
Only the WRP and Young Socialists are building this leadership – every worker and young person should join us in this historic struggle.
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