Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Unions and Strikes

“I rate Matt Wrack, Mark Serwotka and Bob Crow as the best of the current generation and Jerry would ably compare with these.”

Undoubtedly good people; good Socialists and leaders one and all. Both Wrack and Crow holding considerable industrial clout. Even though Bob Crow has repudiated unofficial strike action in the past -,1390,0,0,1,0 – doesn’t make him a class traitor.

I haven’t heard of either Matt or Mark endorsing unofficial strike action by their members; again, this doesn’t mean they are in the pockets of the bosses. Yet, when it comes to disputes such as Vestas, Visteon and BA the Unite leadership are class traitors.

Bob Crow arrived on the Isle of Wight during the Vestas sit-in; how many people flocked to join the ranks of the RMT? Did the RMT do what they had accused Unite of failing to do? Did they save the jobs? No, they didn’t, unfortunately. This doesn’t stop Jerry berating Unite; for blaming Unite for all the ills that befall industry.

A couple of years back Len McCluskey was accused at a United Left meeting of selling out the ex-Shell tanker drivers after they settled for a 14% pay rise. The accusation came from someone very high in Jerry Hicks’ leadership campaign team.

Despite the fact that the BA dispute is being run by lay members who instruct the leadership in the directions they wish to go; all we hear from Jerry is ‘betrayal!’ I know some of the lay leadership of the BA strike very well. They know that their membership was never prepared to take unofficial action.

Yet, certain elements within the Left will not believe this. They cannot countenance the fact that not all workers share their revolutionary zeal; that a lot of the UK workforce lean politically towards the right. No, they’re not raving racists nor are they BNP supporters. They’ve simply been brainwashed and manipulated by the media and circumstances for far too long.

This is the audience that both McCluskey and Hicks are pitching their brand of trade unionism. A largely apolitical audience – by this I mean, they’re unaware of the political animal within – most of whom are concerned first for their jobs; second that they have a roof over their heads; third they can feed their families; and, so on down the line.

Jerry is less likely to attract votes with his ultra-critical delivery; with his message that strike action is the only way forward – if that isn’t what Jerry is saying; it is the way the message comes across. In fact Jerry’s condemnatory approach to trade unions is more likely to see members leaving.

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