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The News Line: Editorial TRADE UNION LEADERS ARE PULLING THEIR PUNCHES! IT is a disgrace that the trade union leaders who led the May 10th pensions strike, when 400,000 trade union members stopped work, refused to call a national demonstration in London on that day, so that the full force of the action could be directed against the coalition, to build up the campaign to remove it.

The field was left clear for 20,000 police officers to demonstrate instead, while the packed-out Central Hall meeting of the trade unions waited in vain for a call from their leaders for action to bring the coalition down, seeing that the regime is, at the moment, desperately hanging on.

This passivity is despite the vicious attacks that are continuing on pensions, jobs, basic rights and the Welfare State as outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

The conduct by Unite of the tanker drivers dispute is an example of the union leaders refusing to battle to win the demands of their members. Instead, they began from the ‘national interest’ and the need to avoid a strike in this strategic industry.

To begin with the tanker drivers struggle was seen by Cameron as a re-run of the 1980s, when Thatcher took on the trade unions in order to impose her programme on the UK.

Cameron announced that the army was already training to take on the tanker drivers, and even started a petrol buying panic, to wrack up the class tensions.

However, the result was the opposite to that required. Road haulage workers and many other transport workers declared that they would blockade the oil refineries so that the army might well get in, but would not be able to get oil out.

The Tories’ pre-emptive attack plan was dropped, and the baton was passed to the Unite leaders – to stop a strike in this strategic industry that would have the power to bring the coalition down.

Unite announced that one company would have to be re-balloted because of a ‘technical error’, but a straightforward question, ‘yes’ or ‘No’ to strike action was not put. Instead, there was a third position, of action short of a strike added.

The workers could see the determination of their leaders not to fight and lead a strike, so that third way won at Hoyer. 57.5 per cent of members on a turnout of 79.5 per cent voted for action short of a strike in the re-ballot . . . with 39.2 per cent voting for strike action.

This was followed just a few days later with the result of the consultative ballot of the remaining tanker drivers. In the seven major oil distribution firms, 51 per cent overall on a turnout of 69 per cent voted to accept the Acas proposals. This meant that 49 per cent had voted for strike action! The Tories and the Unite leaders breathed a sigh of relief!

In fact the majority of those who voted in four of the seven firms voted for strike action!
The overall result was what the Unite leaders wanted, with the national interest (the interest of the bosses) put first, and with the need to win their members’ winnable demands completely absent.

Commenting, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: ‘This narrow vote in favour lifts the threat of strike action, but leaves the companies with no room for complacency. . .

‘Francis Maude’s calamitous intervention highlighted that this country runs on unstable, short fuel supplies. It is not a jerrycan in the garage we need, but a review of whether the industry is structured in the national interest.’

She sees strike action as a ‘threat’, with the ‘national interest’ as the key issue. It is obvious that a majority for strike action was there to be won, and that such a dispute was entirely winnable, but would have brought the Tories down!

Unite preferred to allow the Tories to postpone the struggle until they are better prepared for it.
The Unite leaders are working along with Miliband to keep the working class under control so that Miliband will have the opportunity to replace the Tory-LibDem regime with a Miliband-LibDem one.

The UK trade union bureaucracy is one of the main props of capitalism and must be replaced in the period ahead!


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