Fighting talk at the TUC

THE UNIONS threw down the gauntlet at the TUC this week, voting overwhelmingly for a campaign of co-ordinated national industrial action against the cuts.

The call for joint action to defend jobs and public services was supported by all, apart from the representative of the pilots’ union. And it was endorsed at the rostrum by acting Labour leader Harriet Harman, who pledged full support for the unions and a coalition of communities and unions to lead the resistance to the Government’s austerity plans.

But as maverick RMT general secretary Bob Crow pointed out: “We can pass all the resolutions we want but, ultimately, we either lay down or stand up and fight.”

Throughout Europe millions of workers are joining in strikes and protests against the new bourgeois offensive that is sweeping the European Union. And if we don’t fight we know exactly what we’re going to get.

Working people are going to suffer when the cuts and the VAT hike, approved in the Tory-led coalition Budget, kick in, while Tory and Liberal-Democrat leaders make it clear that more draconian cuts to public services we’ve paid for in taxes and taken for granted for decades will follow in the next few months.

Despite all their talk of “fairness” the new Tory-Lib/Dem coalition is set on a ruling class agenda to put the entire burden of the slump on the backs of the workers and they believe they have a full five-year term to carry out their destruction of what’s left of the “welfare state”.

That remains to be seen and the Government will not be deflected, let alone brought down, without mass resistance on a scale not seen since the general strike.

Labour is electing its new leader now but whichever Milliband brother ends up with the top job at the end of the month the right-wing will still be firmly in control.

Labour’s right-wing leaders believe that Tory support will dip and the Liberal Democrats will collapse when the austerity measures bite. They assume that Labour will be able to again rally its core working class constituency, like it did at the last election, win over millions of disillusioned Lib-Dem voters and then be swept back into office at the next election. Consequently they think they are under little or no pressure to incorporate union demands into any future manifesto.

The first step is to make the rich pay for the crisis by restoring income tax rates to the levels that existed in 1970s. They’ve got plenty. They’ve made millions with their tax breaks and bonuses and they can well afford to disgorge a fraction of their wealth now.

The next is to scrap the billions spent on the needless and useless Trident nuclear weapons system and the rest of Britain’s nuclear arsenal and use the money to maintain the health service, pensions and public education. The renationalisation of services and utilities and the restoration of free collective bargaining would revive the economy and bring work to millions more.

There is always a way out of the crisis but Cameron’s way spells poverty and destitution for millions of working people. The labour movement needs to mobilise all organised labour and the masses of working people to fight the cuts but it will take Greek-style mass organised action and more to stop the Cameron government in its tracks.

Communists have a crucial part to play in building the mass movement needed to fight the cuts and putting the socialist alternative and the communist ideal back on the working class agenda.