Theresa May and the Conservative Party’s deepening reign of chaos are promoting untold instability in the lives of tens of millions of workers. Just this year the Tories boldest and, to date, most undemocratic attack upon workers came to fruition with the delivery of their Trade Union Act.
Bringing together nearly 6 million unionised workers, the response from Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) was clear: the Trade Union Act “represents the most serious attack on the rights of trade unions and their members in a generation.”
But ever keen to mislead the British public, workers across the world were no doubt shocked this morning by the front-page headlines in the Tory press that announced “May: I’ll Boost Rights For the Worker.” (Daily Express, May 15, 2017)
Theresa May revealed the deep confusion dominating her own party by boasting that “we are announcing the greatest extension of rights and protections for employees by any Conservative government in history.” This is clearly a sign that the Tories are getting worried that Labour’s bold pro-worker policies might have mass appeal.
Unfortunately the TUC non-response that was widely quoted in the media was equally troubling: “This is a promising set of commitments from the Conservatives, though it’s clear that much more detail is needed.”
Contrast this statement to the TUC’s official response to Jeremy Corbyn’s 20 policies aimed at improving working life, which, in a serious understatement, they said represented “an impressive set of commitments from the Labour Party, many of which have long been advocated by the TUC.”
But while it is nice that the TUC refer to Corbyn’s policies as impressive, there is absolutely no reason why they should refer to the Tories pledge as promising.
For example, although May has revived her former ditched-promised to empower workers to speak for themselves on company boards, there seems little chance that a Conservative government will make good on this promise (in a meaningful way or otherwise).
The TUC seem to have forgotten the contempt the Conservative Party has always had for the trade union movement. After all, it was only in January this year that the TUC noted their “disappointment” with the government that there will be “no trade union voice on the board” of the government’s newly formed Institute for Apprenticeships. This is a clear premonition of what May really means by boosting rights for the worker, she means boosting rights for bosses.
Little wonder then that the TUC failed to organise even a single demonstration against the Trade Union Act.
Corbyn represents a welcome break with the Blairite tripe that, for too long now, has polluted the leadership of both the Labour Party and the TUC.
Rather than organizing against those powerful vested interests that seek to grind the pay and conditions of workers into the ground, Blairites sought to ingratiate themselves to the needs of big business. Corbyn is proposing something different, a socialist alternative that seeks to help organize the many rather than placate the demands of the grasping few.
Massive grassroots pressure for socialist change within the Labour Party has already found a germinal voice within the trade union movement. Thus at the TUC’s annual congress in 2012 union delegates voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion in favour of organizing a general strike against Tory austerity.
The TUC motion in question called for “coordinated action where possible with far reaching campaigns including the consideration and practicalities of a general strike”.
But rather than help organize a fight-back against the weak and divided Tories, the TUC leadership pretend there is nothing they can do except sit on their hands and work with the Tories.
Now however is the time for the trade union movement to unite with Corbyn in demonstrating our collective anger with the continuing ravages of Tory attacks upon all workers.
Without the support of the TUC, unions are already busy mobilising for regional protests this weekend in order to highlight the twin crisis facing both education and health services.
Workers have shown their willingness to support a Labour leader who is willing to lead a fight against the Tories, now they must do the same within their trade unions to ensure that we have leaders who are both willing and capable of working alongside Corbyn in bringing an end to Tory misrule once and for all.
FOR DETAILS OF THE PROTEST IN LEICESTER CITY CENTRE TAKING PLACE THIS SATURDAY BY THE CLOCK TOWER (FROM 11am UNTIL 2PM) SEE HERE https://www.facebook.com/events/460883754253299/