Saturday, September 24, 2016
What trade unionists need from Corbyn's Labour
It is good – if predictable – news that the socialist leader of the Labour Party has been re-elected with increased support in spite of the best efforts of much of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the media and the establishment to undermine him.
He is even more fortunate in having been offered the advice of our General Secretary about what to do next. It seems the key is to unite “using the talents of the best MPs from across the party in the shadow cabinet” (although the calibre of the shadow cabinet does seem to have improved in the past three months).
What UNISON members – and all trade unionists – need right now is a Labour opposition that really opposes the Tories, not just in the Palace of Westminster (although that is not unimportant) but also using every elected position we can gain and also in the streets of every community.
We need this because our power in the workplace is at its least in a long time. Strike action is at its lowest level since records began and we have failed to prevent the passage into law of those elements of the Trade Union Act which are most damaging to our ability to reverse this decline in our power. This lack of workplace power accounts for our failure to defend our living standards.
Therefore we are reduced to organising a campaign to get the public to congratulate our members on their good work, whilst the living standards of workers in local government and the health service are in free fall. Our members can feel good about being appreciated as they shop carefully in Lidl and Aldi since we failed to smash the pay freeze.
Workers having been disarmed in the workplace, thanks in large part to a trade union movement the leadership of which clearly has no intention of contesting the anti-union laws, we desperately need the political wing of our movement to find a way to pursue our interests. We can ourselves help.