Saturday, October 13, 2007

The anonymous opponents of migration in our movement...

There are those in our trade union movement who worry about the influence of far left organisations in our trade unions. I often get stick for being prepared to work alongside comrades who are members of outfits such as the Socialist Workers Party or the Socialist Party.

I am not troubled by this.

I prefer to work with good trade unionists regardless of political affiliation, whether they are in the Labour Party, the Communist Party, or no party at all. I also believe it is important to be open about political affiliations.

But there are other political parties in our movement which operate much less openly – one such is the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) which produce a journal called “Workers” in which all the contributions are anonymous (!) presumably because they are written by a small number of people holding well paid jobs as officials on our movement.

Workers is, oddly enough, anti-immigration. Their argument is pretty simple, migration increases the supply of labour and that depresses the price of labour. GCSE level economics is more advanced than much of what passes for discussion in our movement, but this a pretty limited argument which, characteristically for “Workers”, leads nowhere in terms of any practical guide to action for trade unionists. Do the comrades think we should be lining up with the anti-immigration brigade? What good would that do?

Mass migration is not going to stop. Capital flows ever more freely around the world (and that is a flow which we ought to be arguing for controls over). We can’t get back to a politics based upon the interests of “our” working class in “our” country, as distinct from the interests of our class the world over. We need to recognise that employers will try to depress wages and that their state will help them to do so – we need to fight as trade unionists to organise workers into trade unions, to push up wages – and to campaign for policies (such as an increase in the minimum wage and an amnesty for so-called “illegal” migrants) which will support workers’ interests.

Migrant workers are here now and the job of the trade unions is to organise workers regardless of nationality. That’s why UNISON is right to set out to organise migrant workers and to support Strangers into Citizens – perhaps the authors of Workers, including those in our own Union, would like to emerge from their anonymity and have a real debate?

There certainly is a danger in the movement adopting progressive policies on migration without winning support for them at a rank and file level. We need to take on and defeat the shallow and unimpressive arguments of the anti-immigrant brigade, to the left as much as to the right.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't aware that the CPB(M-L) still existed

jim ennis said...

A quick check on reveals the site being registered to Peter Wrobel. Doesn't ring any bells to me.