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Year 2000 No. 149, September 12, 2000 Archive Search Home Page


The Working Class Must Defend Its Interests

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The Working Class Must Defend Its Interests

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The Working Class Must Defend Its Interests

This year’s TUC Congress opened yesterday in Glasgow. In his key note address to the theme of this year’s Congress, the "winning at work" agenda, TUC General Secretary John Monks flowed over with his message that "new unionism has been ringing out loud and clear". Monks declared, "Today's trade unionism stands unambiguously for economic success. The partnership deals that we have showcased this year demonstrate how high workplace standards and genuine participation are the best means of delivering change and high productivity. We now want the rest of Britain's employers to match up to the best. Every union has its own chapter to write in our story."

This message from the TUC is that this agenda of partnership with employers – the so-called win-win solution for both workers and capitalists – can bring about a new dawn of the old tripartite arrangement of trade unions, big business and government. The move to revive the triumvirate after it was shattered by Thatcherism and spurned by the New Labour government, is coming at time when the workers are awakening to the reality that their interests cannot be served by working for "success" in the global market and reliance on inward and outward investment. The move to bring about this arrangement, to bring big labour in from the cold, is being pushed by the TUC Congress at a time when the movement of the workers is growing against the social partnership agenda, in the car industry, in the public services and throughout the economy. John Monks’ call that "trade unionism stands unambiguously for economic success" and for employers to have "real dialogue about productivity" is an agenda to engage the trade union and working class movement wholly in the programme of big business for globalisation.

The content of the "new unionism" is to sacrifice all the independent interests of the workers. When John Monks says that "trade unionism has walked through the front door of countless new workplaces", he is referring to the "social partnership" that tries to convince the workers that they should champion the interests of their cut-throat employers, while telling the employers that the TUC will deliver organised labour to work under them for their success. This is the significance of this year’s TUC Congress theme of "winning at work".

Workers and capitalist have incompatible interests. The interests of the workers cannot be satisfied whilst the monopoly capitalists in Britain seeks to increase their profits at the expense of increased exploitation of the working class and destruction of the national economy in pursuit of success in the global market. A trend exists which seeks to oppose the outright agenda of "social partnership", while promoting illusions that workers’ interests can be served by pushing for a "left" agenda within the status quo. It wants to reject what is "bad" about the Labour government, retain what is "good", but at the same time espouse what is represented by the "Third Way". This trend is also represented at the TUC Congress. It is united with the TUC theme of "winning at work" in that it also is insistent that there can be no return to the old union militancy.

However, the necessity for workers to fight for their interests has never ceased to exist. At the same time, it is necessary to fight for the conception that the working class holds the solution to the problems of society. The workers must rally the masses of oppressed sections of he people, the youth, the women, the unemployed, the pensioners, the national minorities, the teachers and all sections of society around its own independent agenda. It is the monopolists who have abandoned the national economy and the general interests of society. The workers are the ones who must take up this banner.

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