THE NEW WORKER

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 18th January 2019


Leave means Leave!

PARLIAMENT kicked out Mrs May’s Brexit deal by an overwhelming majority this week. Her mealy-mouthed compromise that would have kept Britain in the European Union (EU) in all but name was rejected in the House of Commons by 432 votes to 202 — a margin of 230 that puts it in the history books.

Two years ago millions of people voted decisively to leave the EU. Brexit would mark a significant shift in the balance of power between capital and labour in Britain. It would leave a Labour government free to trade with any country around the world and free to invest in British manufacturing industry. It would enable Labour to restore trade union rights and in so doing reverse the yawning wealth gap between rich and poor in Britain. It would be a government that could cap rents and burst the housing bubble that sees our cities’ forests of towering luxury homes owned by investment companies and parasites whilst workers are forced to live in hostels, hovels or sleep on the streets.

A lot has been said recently about how the EU supposedly protects workers from rogue employers. Unfortunately the opposite is the case. The EU was unable to stop the economic crisis causing havoc across Europe. The EU endorsed the bosses’ offensive to make their workers’ pay for the crisis through increased unemployment, reduced pay and loss of employment rights.

Today, supported by an EU-wide reserve army of labour (the unemployed) and using the threat of automation and new technology, the bosses are making ever greater demands on workers. This must stop.

Workers shouldn’t have to pay for the crisis that was not of their making. Some 3.8 million people are stuck in zero-hours contracts, low-paid self-employment or agency work where they’re treated as disposable labour. The EU has failed to protect these workers, so the trade union movement is campaigning to organise these workers.

Over the years there has been a big increase in bogus self-employment. Employers are encouraging this so that workers lose out on redundancy pay and family-friendly rights. The EU doesn’t do anything to protect the rights of these workers.

The EU has failed to get successive governments to restore union rights taken away by the various Tory governments in the 1980s and 1990s. Since joining the EU hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs have been lost in manufacturing, engineering and the extraction industries. Almost 50 years after the Equal Pay Act there is still unlawful discrimination on pay. What has the EU done about this — absolutely nothing.

The government introduced fees to access employment tribunals — the EU said nothing. Unison took the government to court and won. More and more workers are seeing their wages reduced to the minimum/living wage. The EU doesn’t care. Productivity in Britain has gone down over the years as employers find it cheaper to employ people on low wages rather than to invest. The EU doesn’t give a damn.

Retirement age for women has increased from 60 to 66, and for men from 65 to 66. The EU thinks this is a wonderful idea, so it’s now happening across Europe.

The TUC estimates that 2.2 million employees are not getting the minimum paid leave entitlement they are due. The EU brags about its directives but does nothing to enforce them.

The EU boasts it protects workers from working long hours. The EU did nothing when the French government legislated against the 35-hour working week. EU rules explicitly allow agencies and employers to undercut the pay of workers. We voted for Brexit and that’s what we want. If Mrs May’s Tory government cannot deliver it — and this week’s vote in the House of Commons clearly proves it can’t — then it must be brought down in parliament to pave the way for fresh elections.