Saturday, 28 September 2013
What is meant by a rank-and-file organisation?
The rank-and-file in a union or a work place truly hold the power in a struggle if they decide to flex their muscles and act independently of the union leadership they can be a very powerful force within the work place. Over the years various rank-and-file organisations have been set up and have had their day but today in 2013 there is a need for them once again. I am less than convinced with the left wing attempts at rank-and-file organisations with much emphasis being put on being taken over and run as anti cuts groups which in themselves are fine and do a job but workers are still left with little to no organisation to join or to lean towards if they are in struggle in a workplace or a community. If they do not wish to blindly follow their union leaders line if they wish to control and own their own struggles there is no organisation there they can turn to right now. The NSSN the National Shops Stewards Union could have been this but is now another anti cuts group which is up to them of course but does not negate the need for a truly rank-and-file owned and controlled movement if not organisation operating from below. The NSSN which has turned itself through the leadership of the socialist party has turned itself into a propagandist group organising regularly lobby’s of the TUC to call for this or that recently it has been to call on the TUC to call a 24 hour general strike. This as I’ve explained before is a failed strategy which’s quite frankly going no where anytime soon. Why appeal to the TUC in the first place who are a load of highly paid bureaucrats and secondly if this so called 24 hour general strike actually happened which I admit is highly unlikely in the coming period although if it happened I would welcome it of course what would it actually achieve? The socialist party actually admit that a 24 hour general strike will not stop austerity although reading much of their recent literature on the lobby’s and the like you’d be forgiven for thinking one day all out will see off this government and the cuts in one fail swoop. No no no comrades where do they get all this from? A genuine real rank-and-file organisation would start from the premise that we are at a very low period of class struggle pretending anything else like some left groups do that we are just on the verge of mass class struggle and anger is to dress thins up as fiction I’m afraid we are not in a pre revolutionary period and are as far off that than ever in my view. Of course things can change but recognising where we are not where we want to be has got to be a start and that for me is a very low point and must be built on. Building workers confidence in taking action and actually winning is key. Pointing to the likes of the sparks and the Hovis workers who have won against 0 hour contracts recently is key to winning the argument for acting and action from below. Decision-making by mass meeting Recallable delegates, not representatives, where necessary Local control of strike funds Rank-and-file controlled strike committees Direct action On which basis, people can learn the power in their own hands and to act on their own initiative. Mass meetings on a democratic basis are just a start any workplace any area of struggle must be held accountable from those below. Handing power and representation to those above loose’s you that power. Do beware of those looking to act and represent you. DO they really have your best interests at heart? Ultimately, if the aim is to have ordinary people taking action for themselves, then the ideas are the most important part of the equation. We can promote a culture of resistance, but by the nature of the beast we cannot produce a formula or a rigid programme. If people are to take control of their own struggles, they must decide how for themselves. The role of militants within the workplace is simply to be part of that, and to argue and demonstrate that it can be done.