Thursday, July 21, 2016

Meanwhile in the real world...

The HMRC investigation into Sports Direct exposes the nature of the "jobs" created in recent years almost as well as the legal action being take against Uber by drivers seeking to show that they are not self-employed.

As a public sector trade union activist, representing (mostly) workers with the few employment rights the law gives us as employees, I - and my colleagues at branch level - have the luxury (though it does not feel like that) of defending trade unionists who still have some rights, and some collective strength and organisation with which to defend them.

The three quarters of the workforce now working beyond the reach of collective bargaining do not all work under the petty tyranny of management like Sports Direct, nor do they all suffer the chronic insecurity‎ of faux self-employment - but many suffer all this and worse.

I will resist the urge to compare the real-life plight of real workers with the "insecurity" of members of the Parliamentary Labour Party "threatened" with reselection (how is it a "threat" to be reminded of the need to be elected into an elected position?).

‎What workers need in these days, more than anything else, are fighting trade unions which can defend our interests. The first task of trade union activist is to build such unions.

Our unions do also need a political voice‎ however - and Corbyn's Labour gives us this as we have not had it in my working life. That's not to say that Corbyn is perfect, far less that all those around him are worthwhile, but the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn does represent an opportunity for trade unions to be represented in Parliament (and elsewhere) as we have not been for decades.

Therefore, this summer, one key task for serious union activists is to sign up members who pay the political levy as affiliated supporters and to encourage them to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

At the same time we need to be developing ways of organising the fragmented, diversified and - in many cases - atomised workforce of the twenty first century.‎ All that was solid has already melted into air.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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