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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The dangers of trade union beurocracy and selling out members

Initial agreements on public service pensions have been signed by all the unions representing local government workers, most health staff and some teaching and civil service unions.

The agreements were reached on a day of key talks for public sector staff.

Unison is poised to put the government's "final offer" to members of its executive in the new year.

But the PCS union has rejected the latest offer from the government for civil service pensions.


Two major teaching unions - the NUT and NASUWT - have yet to sign up but sources say they are not rejecting the government's proposed deal unlike the PCS.

Commenting on the latest round of Teachers' Pension Scheme talks, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union said: "The NUT was not able to sign up to the Government's headline proposals. There was insufficient progress in terms of the Government's position that teachers should work longer, pay more and get less."

The NUT's National Executive will meet in January to take a view on progress in the negotiations and its next steps.
This all comes at a time just before christmas. Many public sector workers will feel very let down by their trade union leaders. But this is sadly not unexpected. Not to lay the blame at anyones door in particular but certain right wing trade union leaders always had the intention all along of selling out their members. Getting the "best deal" and "damage limitation" was the name of the game all along for leaders such as Dave Prentice and Brendan barbour of Unison and the TUC respectively. Just to add these leaders will retire on a very nice comfortable pension themselves.

But this is systemic we have to understand. So often in the past and is their role really as trade union leaders not to lead a fightback although at times they are forced into this from pressure from below but there have been times in the past where trade union leaders have lent on the government of the day and used the laws to get out of strike action anyway they can.
Trade union leaders just like their paymasters are reformist by nature and this is something new workers to the struggle will have to begin to understand. They have no idea of seeing past their noses and see nothing outside the capitalist system the status quo if you like. They are mostly non radical and enjoy very comfortable lifestyles and pay packets. They are reformist by nature and should be no suprise to us that they sell out all the time.
The decision should be given to the rank-and-file to decide but no doubt this will not happen.
We in the socialist party do not hold any false illusions in trade union beurocracy despite what some anarchists might say. We are fully aware that trade union leaders are not on the side of the workers. Our policy would be to transform the trade unions from bottom upwards. starting with all elected officials to only recieve the average wage of a skilled worker. To ensure trade union leaders feel the day to day struggle of ordinary workers.
Strikes are a last resort for many workers but this dispute over pensions could have been won and pushed this weak government back

Not that striking is the be all and end all of union activeity but a fighting union attracts workers and always has done.

Take the PCS who has a fighting left leaddership have completely rejected the governments proposals as unlike Brendan Barbour who is lieing out his back teeth there has been no progress made on negotiations at all and Mark Serwotka is right to point this out. A fighting union will always attract workers and the PCS will gain support out of this for standing firm to the government who wish public sector workers to carry on working longer, paying in more and getting less. It is a mantra that Mark Serwotka has said time and time and he's r ight to say so.

Nothing has changed despite what Brendan barbour tells us.


Workers today are fighting the class struggle with almost two hands tied behind their back as Jim Horton said last night at a meeting on the history of the trade unions never have the working class been more weaker than today. No political representation and a very weak union movement which is only just starting to rebuild itself after years of a lull.

N30 was massive and a change in contiousness happened on that day no doubt. We do need more strikes to bring this government to its knees but it doesnt look like on pensions this will happen. At this time it looks like a ebb in the class struggle. Things were going well up to now we were knocking on open doors calling for a general strike in the public sector but we've hit a bump now and the working class must respond and respond i am sure they will next year.

The idea of unofficial action by workers will be mentioned more and more with sparks taking lots of unofficial action every wednesday in this last part of the year can open up a wave of militant unofficial action if trade union leaders are not prepared to act.
With the sparks unite was so weak it called off its ballot for strike action just at Balfour beatties threat to go to court for a iinjunction. They didnt in the end but just the threat of this forced unite to call off their ballot. They are now reballoting but a blow has been taken .

The coming times will be very interesting we are entering a time of heightened class struggle and the working class will need to find its voice in anyway it can. The fight of our lives is on and its not a fight we can loose. What happens in the next few years will affect us for a long time to come. We either organise now or roll over. The trade union leaders have chosen their path we must choose ours.

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