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Trade unions appear to have no place in the new neoliberal economy, nor does collective bargaining which underpins them. If teachers had built professional unity in their unions there may have been half a chance that they would be in a strong position to resist performance related pay, a precursor to the break up of their national collective bargaining. As it stands, the poor leadership in all three main teaching unions looks unlikely to be able to resist with any real fortitude.
Local government workers and health workers have lost collective bargaining in all but name by accepting 0% pay rises for years and worse pensions. It remains to be seen if NAPO will defeat the break up of probation. The worst attacks on the Employment Tribunal system have taken place with little opposition even from the judges and tribunal members who know they are wrong. Access to justice for trade unions and individual workers will be severely curtailed as the Jackson Review and Beercroft proposals make their way through parliament in other guises.
Workers, the unemployed and those millions now living in destitution without hope need a resurgent, strong and confident trade union movement in 2013 and the years of cowardice, inter-union competition and division have to end. Political education needs to be at the heart of this programme in every workplace rather than the futile recourse to protest and complaining. We are no longer fighting ‘the cuts’ but for a socialist future and national sovereignty.