The right to strike is the only meaningful right that workers can have under the capitalist system. And, since no gain is ever permanent under conditions of permanent class war, it has had to be defended many times in the last two centuries.
With the new legislation about to be passed by our rulers, the array of anti-union legislation in Britain will put workers here in a parlous state as regards defending their pay and conditions – a situation compounded by legislation that effectively outlaws protesting as well. Even imperialist NGO Human Rights Watch has been moved to complain!
On 18 January, in response to this dire situation, the TUC organised an online meeting via its front organisation Megaphone, an umbrella group that brings together more than 48 unions across Britain, representing 5.5 million members.
Workers were called on to “help stop these anti-strike laws” and egged on via bombastic hyperbole (“amazing!”, “electric!” …) to “take action” and “play your part” … to do what exactly? To join a general strike? To fill the streets? Surround Downing Street? Organise and change the system?
No. To send an email, yes, an email to their local MP demanding they “stop the bill in its tracks”. The meeting organisers reported (also via email) that the “immediate action on the call” they had organised had led 220 people (out of 5.5 million members) ‘taking action’! Yes, that’s 220 emails to MPs in the hope that they might just forget for a moment that they serve the ruling class and vote against their bosses’ interests.
The same email reported excitedly: “MPs will be voting on these new laws in the coming weeks, and we know that many are undecided about whether they will support these laws or not. In fact, some Tory MPs are beginning to waver and have started to voice concerns about the bill.”
We can’t help but wonder where the TUC gets its information. When did loyal servants of the ruling class – Labour or Tory – ever show a working-class conscience? Yet now we are to believe that, as a result of feeling the ‘pressure’ from a few emails, like Pinocchio under the admonishments of Jiminy Cricket, the noses of our good parliamentarians have stopped growing and they have discovered their hearts.
Now they are ready to give up on decades of careerism and vote unselfishly for the interests of the working class. Now they will stop helping the capitalists try to escape their crisis by passing the burden onto the backs of the poor. Now they want to defend workers’ most fundamental right within the capitalist system – the right to use their collective power to defend themselves against harsh conditions and unlivable pay.
Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.
Megaphone exhorts its members to “reach MPs urgently to ensure they act”, assuring them that MPs are “most likely to listen to are their own constituents”. So, the quicker we act, the quicker they will come to their senses and transform themselves into Real Boys.
Well, that sounds logical at a certain level. But, wait, haven’t we been here before?
Why should we imagine our rulers and their loyal henchmen are about to listen to us, the downtrodden, the poor, the underprivileged now, when they never have before? Did they listen when we said No to nukes? (Did they spend less on deploying their nuclear arsenal and more on education and healthcare?)
Did they listen when we said No to Nato, or to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria? Did they listen when there were outcries about racist and corrupt policing? Did they listen when we voted for Brexit? Are they listening to us on Ukraine? We could go on …
We in the Communist party certainly do not want this anti-strike bill. But does the strategy of ‘bombarding’ MPs with emails make any real, substantial difference? Isn’t it in fact just a ploy to keep people busy doing nothing? To keep us thinking that Parliament is our only hope of salvation? To make us believe that we have no power to affect anything ourselves?
What kind of message is that for a mass trade union organisation to send? Whatever happened to ‘Class against class’?
The TUC could not furnish any better proof that it is as much a part of the establishment it claims to oppose as are the MPs themselves.
Its leaders do not really represent the working-class masses; they never have and never will. If they were representative of the working class of this country, they would be calling for people to organise; to use their collective power to demand immediate action to save workers from hunger and fuel poverty; to guarantee workers a decent living and decent homes.
They would be bringing their members not in hundreds to their computers but in hundreds of thousands onto the streets: to surround Parliament and Downing Street; to obstruct the City of London; to close down Nato’s bases; to take over the lying media outlets that help our rulers wage their relentless class war against the workers.
They wouldn’t be diverting people’s attention to an email campaign that can achieve nothing but the demobilisation of our class, the deepening of our apathy and cynicism.
They would also be bringing workers’ attention to the need for a complete change of system, from anarchic and inhumane capitalism to rational, human-centred socialism; the need for a system in which workers can take charge of their own destinies and plan production to meet their needs.
Emails will not solve our problems. Only meaningful mass organisation that harnesses the power of the working class can achieve anything we need, from immediate reforms to lighten the burden we carry within the capitalist system, to the total overthrow of that system and its replacement with a planned economy.
This is our call to action: join us today. Organise.