It’s been a strange time since the election. As one would expect there has been general outrage from many and some floundering around while people get to grips with the massive implications of electing a Tory government. The Queen’s speech has launched a huge and swift attack on workers and our unions, though we can’t say we weren’t warned. Meanwhile the media focus is on Fifa, as if corruption in football was more important than the destruction of welfare and unions.
The Labour party continues to self destruct and distance itself from those it should represent, while putting up Blairites as prospective leaders and supporting welfare cuts. Do they want to represent the 1% or the 99%? All workers have aspirations and it is an insult to say otherwise – playing into the Tory myth of strivers and skivers.
However, the RMT presses ahead with strike action, we are standing on the verge of the first national steel strike for 30 years by Tata workers and housing activists continue to do good work. But while employers may be damaged, the government will use strike action to divide workers and claim it proves the need for legislation against trade union ‘barons’.
There is an understanding that discussing the way forward is of vital and urgent importance. It is not an option to wait for 5 years. But where to go?
Fighting anti-TU laws will not be easy – nor will legislation be halted by demonstrations. Alternative types of disruptive action may have to be developed by workers. An essential part will be basic union rebuilding work – recruitment and discussions with workers in their workplaces about the key issues that affect them.
Working with other organisations will also be essential – workers and users of services together can be powerful.
It is ever more essential that we base our struggles around our own agenda – what we want for the future – OUR aspirations. This idea has been gradually adopted in some areas, but needs to be more widely discussed. The need for a constitution which enshrines the rights and responsibilities of workers can be set directly against the neoliberal, individualist agenda.
We must remember that there are and will be serious divisions in the capitalist class – Europe being a major area of discord. Since the industrial revolution capitalism has feared organised labour. Fear of labour has driven our history and brought us our biggest gains, such as the welfare state. We need to remember that history and act on it.