Monday, September 12, 2011

Wanted - an alternative.

Not being amongst the much reduced UNISON delegation to this year's "TUC lite" I won't get to hear "BB" give his keynote address first hand - but I understand he'll echo the General Council's July statement by calling on us to build a "Movement for the Alternative" and asking for a modest levy to help fund this work (http://m.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/12/brendan-barber-tuc?cat=politics&type=article).

What accounts for the poverty of the aspirations of the top of our movement, as they move backwards rather than forwards from March's brilliant demonstration, and wonder about raising a "fighting fund" one tenth the size of the fund already earmarked for campaigning by UNISON alone?

The unfortunate answer is that our movement has two wings, but only one of them is making any attempt to fly. The unions, the "industrial wing", have been promoting coherent alternative economic policies consistently since 2008 (think of UNISON's alternative budget for example).

However, what passes for the "political wing" of our movement - Her Majesty's Official Opposition - has been keeping its distance both from the policies needed to turn the economy around and - as on 30 June - the action required to protect the interests of millions of working people under attack by the Government of the millionaires.

The baleful influence of the dead weight of the Labour leadership (due to its failure to break from "New Labour") helps explain why the affiliated unions have been slower than some non-affiliated unions to take necessary action.

The Government has declared war on our movement and we need the whole movement to fight back.

That's the real significance of co-ordinating industrial action over pensions as, thankfully, it does now seem we will (http://m.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/11/unions-strikes-pension-reforms-conference?cat=politics&type=article).

We cannot lawfully co-ordinate national strike action against job cuts (and even if we could, the uneven way in which cuts fall would pose great practical difficulties).

Even for those of in the third year of a pay freeze (and more than ten per cent worse off in real terms as a result) it does not yet seem that we can mobilise members around pay claims (which feel like "asking for more" rather than defending what we have).

The pensions dispute is our chance to inflict a defeat upon the Tory Coalition. If the Labour leadership support this struggle they can position themselves at the head of a movement which will be in a position to articulate, campaign for and win an alternative for our people.

Every Labour MP - every Party member - needs to support our unions when we are forced into battle to defend our pensions, because the outcome of this struggle will shape politics, and our economy, for some time to come.

Saturday's meeting of the National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee was right to give a high priority to lobbying Labour to back the unions on pensions.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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