The wages struggle is central to every worker. Though complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism, the working class must always strive for improvement, whilst at the same time working to bring about a more fundamental change.
This means direct political struggle to improve social services and benefits and the industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions.
There are a number of principles we believe apply to the wages struggle:
o Claims for increases should be on an industrial basis negotiated by the trade unions nationally. The maximum number of workers can be mobilised in this way in support of the claim.
Local bargaining also has its place subordinated to national bargaining, in improving on what has been achieved nationally and in catering for specifically local conditions.
o Claims should be for a straight monetary increase. This upholds the principle of stable wage differentials to reward workers for their skills. Percentage increases widen differentials, militate against the lower paid and create divisions among the workers.
o Trade unions have also struggled to establish the rate for the job and it is vital to stick to that principle because during the last 20 years employers, aided by political propaganda and the deregulation of labour, have gone a long way towards destabilising wage structures throughout the economy. The introduction of the minimum wage has weakened the fight for better wages and has swelled the ranks of the lower-paid. Where new job patterns have been introduced, rates for them should be agreed by comparing existing jobs with similar skills.
o Whilst in principle we are opposed to the introduction and operation
of bonus and pieceworking schemes, where they do already exist, workers,
via their trade union stewards, should be involved in negotiating the way
they operate. At all times, however, we should be seeking to get
the bonus element scrapped and the payment consolidated into the basic
The Blair government claims it is a "people's" government. The leaders of "new" Labour claim that "the class war is over" and that socialism is irrelevant. They talk about tackling "social exclusion" rather than ending poverty. They talk about "stake-holders" and other self-help schemes. The right-wing TUC leaders talk about "partnership" which it counterpoises against industrial struggle for better wages and hours.
The gross inequality that exists today will not be changed by getting
a so-called stake in the capitalist economy. The "stakeholder" share
will be nothing more than a crumb from the big business table. Society
can only be changed by class struggle, and a key element in that is the
MAKE THE RICH PAY
The fight for higher wages is linked to the demand to restore workers' rights and living standards to the level in real terms enjoyed during the period of the last Labour government, which ended in 1979. We must campaign for an end to the decline in the health service, in education in social services and public transport, not by putting ever increasing pressure on workers in these industries, and by phoney performance target setting, but by ensuring adequate levels of resourcing.
Our party's immediate campaigning demands must centre on mobilising the class in defence of its living standards, for higher wages and the restoration of state welfare to at least the levels existing in 1979. We must continue to demand the repeal of all anti-union legislation, fight for flat-rate across-the-board wages and a reduction in weekly hours with no loss of pay. We must expose the limitations of working-time legislation and campaign for the closing of opt-out clauses.
The fight for a reduction in working hours is as important as the fight for higher wages. We should aim to unite the labour movement around a demand for a maximum working week of 35 hours.
These demands can easily be met by making the rich pay for them by disgorging a fraction of the wealth they extort from the masses every year. The rich have plenty. They must pay. Introducing a progressive tax system heavily weighted against the rich, a wealth tax, scrapping Value Added Tax (VAT) and other indirect taxation and scrapping Trident would pay for all of these immediate demands.
The Chancellor has recently introduced the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). We recognise this as a mechanism to redistribute wealth within the working class, leaving the capitalist class untouched.
We should draw attention to the scandal that the WFTC system allows bosses to pay wages below subsistence level and they are the ultimate beneficiaries of the system.
The need for benefit paid to full-time workers can only be eliminated through rising wages.
The WFTC also undermines trade unions by deepening the poverty trap
where workers are reluctant to fight for small wage rises because this
leads to cuts in benefits.
SERVE THE PEOPLE
These demands can be won only if there is mass pressure from the labour movement itself. The fight for a working class united trade union movement is paramount. We need to defeat social-democracy in the labour movement and replace the time-servers, careerists and collaborators with working class leadership committed to the struggle for the advancement of the class.
We need militant working-class leadership in the union movement to lead the class in defiance of the labour laws, to restore collective bargaining and defend workers' rights. We need a militant workers' movement to expose, isolate and defeat those who claim to lead it.
Demands for progressive legislation, a fighting trade union movement and a class conscious labour movement go hand in hand with the fight to build the revolutionary party and its influence within the working class. We must encourage class consciousness and the socialist concept of human rights to counter the bourgeois concept, which only applies to themselves.
The key is reaching out to the people, the millions the in the factories, offices and housing estates up and down the country. We have to go beyond those union "activists" who are normally active for causes not of our own and make the case for communism. Stepping beyond the "activists" outside our ranks to reach the workers, the toilers, the strivers, who in the end make the revolution when the time comes, has to be our task.
Reaching out to the workers in the factories, offices and the working class housing estates will ensure that we have a class approach to recruitment and draw in countless thousands who have not been subjected to reformist ideas.
The need is pressing for a massive reconstruction of society. Within that agenda will be programmed eradication of slums, poverty, racism, discrimination and bigotry. Culture, sport, art, entertainment and recreation will be made accessible for all. People's democracy will work to ensure that co-operation, collective work and inclusiveness replace the existing culture of selfishness, cut-throat competition and individualism, where worker is pitted against worker.
Menial and boring jobs may always exist. Only socialism, however, can put such work into a social context that alleviates the adverse effects through education and cultural pursuits. Working hours can be reduced, without loss of pay, to compensate for arduous, boring and menial work.
Only socialism can unleash the full potential and creative power of all working people; we deserve nothing less.