Labour movement’s confidence grows

THE GROWING confidence of the labour movement was seen at the TUC’s annual conference this week with the decision to back another co-ordinated public sector strike over pay and cuts. That, and the fact that half the members of the General Council are supporting a call for a general strike reflects a renewed determination to challenge the determination of the ruling class to put the entire burden of the capitalist slump on the backs of the workers.

Last November around two-and-a-half million public sector workers took strike action, the biggest strike in terms of numbers our country has ever seen. That strike sent a clear message to the Tories and their Liberal Democrat collaborators that pension and public service cuts were unacceptable and that they will be resisted all the way. But it didn’t happen.

The right-wingers and vacillators who still control some of our unions, more concerned with preserving their immense salaries and perks than taking up the legitimate demands of their members, headed off demands for a follow-up campaign. The Tory-led Coalition exploited the divisions within the unions’ ranks to push through their agenda and the united public sector pension campaign is now virtually dead.

But lessons have been learnt. Appeasement has failed and it’s clear that the only way the Cameron Government can be stopped in its tracks is by determined action by the organised working class.

David Cameron’s coalition is unstable. The Liberal Democrats are unreliable allies while Eurosceptic dissent amongst Tory backbench MPs is closing ranks around Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who does little to hide his ambition to lead the Conservative Party. The Lib-Dems have broken ranks over the proposed parliamentary boundary changes and their leaders are now determined to distance themselves as far as they can from the Tories, while still retaining their Cabinet posts to boost their flagging fortunes in the popularity stakes.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, clearly thinks that this is a one-term government. He equally clearly believes that he has no need to make any manifesto commitments to the unions’ agenda because he expects Labour to be swept back into office in a wave of anti-Tory sentiment. That was, after all, how Tony Blair won three elections on the bounce.

This time must be different. The Labour Party is almost entirely funded by the unions it was originally set up to represent and defend. But change will only happen if the union movement as a whole moves to not only rally against this reactionary Coalition but also against the class-collaborators within their own ranks and amongst those who claim to represent them in Parliament.

The Labour Representation Committee has taken the lead in the struggle for a democratic Labour Party and a militant trade union movement. And the first stage must be to mobilise millions in support of the TUC’s national protest march and rally in London on 20th October and then quickly follow it up with the co-ordinated public sector one-day protest strike. Then the fight must be stepped up with more strikes to bring this worthless government down and to ensure that Labour fights the next election in support of the demands of the TUC and the demands of millions of working people who want an end to austerity.