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Volume 52 Number 15, June 18, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

We demand better: March and Rally, June 18

Enough Is Enough! Working People on the March to Defend their Rights and the Rights of All!

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We demand better: March and Rally, June 18
Enough Is Enough! Working People on the March to Defend their Rights and the Rights of All!

Government Confronts the Power of the Workers' Movement with Police Powers

We demand better: March and Rally, June 18

Enough Is Enough! Working People on the March to Defend their Rights and the Rights of All!

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The TUC National Demonstration "We Demand Better" is taking place today, Saturday, June 18, in Central London, assembling from 11am in Portland Place and setting off at noon for a rally at 1pm in Parliament Square.

The working class and people are intensifying the struggles in the face of the assault on their rights, the laws against the working people's right to organise, and the rights of the whole of society. Working people are saying that enough is enough, and today is evidence that they are on the march to defend their rights and the rights of all.

The TUC has issued the call: We Demand Better. They have articulated the following demands:

While putting forward these demands, underlining the necessity to demand that the government acts to listen to and support working people, more than that workers themselves need to speak out and collectively and individually elaborate their solutions, in that sense empowering themselves as a workers' opposition to the Westminster parties, which are forming a cartel keeping the people out of power, and stirring up passions and divisions amongst them. Why should not workers themselves take steps to becoming worker politicians, so that they can speak in their own name?

The government's talk of "levelling-up" and the promise of a "high-wage economy" is a farce and a fraud. The cost-of-living crisis is intensifying, while the government, on behalf of vested interests tells workers to be "sensible". It appears that "levelling-up" means that the likes of the royal family and other billionaires can live off the wealth stolen from working people in this country and the colonies, while speaking from their golden thrones or their landed property in fraudulent costumes that the government will, surely, do something to tackle this cost-of-living crisis. Yes, the claims of the working class are just, and workers will not be lectured to as to what is in the country's interests while private vested interests of the rich are at the heart of government, a government which has no moral scruples beyond the interests of the financiers and oligarchs.

And what about social programmes, about health and education? They too are in crisis, while again it is the private interests that reap literally billions of pounds from the crisis, most notably the Covid crisis, while working people are the ones who care, who have shown an amazing sense of responsibility for the health and welfare of the ill, the vulnerable, the old and infirm. It is unconscionable that working people are now told to be sensible, that there is nothing that can be done about inflation, that its factors are beyond control, that recession is looming, while the rich can play every trick in the book to keep wealth in their own hands, and continue to benefit from these crises. The cures which the government are proposing are worse than the disease. The rich are the ones benefiting from the soaring energy, petrol and food prices, and austerity, militarisation and raising interest rates are causing devastation for society as a whole.

It is a vital and important struggle of working people to fight against the callous lowering of wages as costs spiral. It is essential that the workers continue to speak out, presenting solutions to the crisis, and demanding that they be implemented, which they need the power to do, and the struggles are giving them confidence. The workers are not a special interest group, as the government maintains, for example with the rail workers. They maintained their responsibility during the pandemic. Today they are demanding their rights and taking up responsibility for the future of society.

Further, the racism of the state is a serious problem that working people are taking up for solution. The hollow promises to recompense the Windrush generation are exposing this racism, which is running rampant with the inhuman treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum from the warfare and destruction that the powers-that-be have for generations been fomenting. This brutal treatment cannot be accepted for any human being.

As the workers are articulating with one voice: enough is enough! Our demands are just. Our claims on the value that working people produce are just. We can fight with a clear conscience and declare that a livelihood and a decent standard of living is a right. There is an alternative, there is a path out of this crisis. The future lies in the fight for the dignity of labour and the rights of all. Let our struggles give us confidence to take this path, to stop paying the rich, to apply the wealth that workers produce to investing in social programmes rather than benefiting marauding financial oligarchs, militarisation and marching in lock-step with the United States when it comes to the conflicts that imperialist globalisation is causing.

A modern economy can be made to serve the people's interests. It is not beyond our control. What is required is a new direction for the economy and the control of political affairs in the hands of working people.

Further build the collectives of the working class as a workers' opposition to the political control of the rich! Every step is a victory!

Article Index

Government Confronts the Power of the Workers' Movement with Police Powers

Faced with an historically large national rail strike, the largest since privatisation, involving some 25,000 workers (members of the RMT union), the government has drawn up plans for new legislation to make such strikes illegal. The Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday reported at the end of last month that the government is to make illegal "any strikes that did not provide a guaranteed 'minimum service' to limit disruption to passengers", and to hold union leaders liable for damages.

This is a direct attack on workers' rights, using the opportunity presented by a strike of these proportions to attack all workers' rights.

"Any attempt by Grant Shapps to make effective strike action illegal on the railways will be met with the fiercest resistance from RMT and the wider trade union movement," said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch. "The government need to focus all their efforts on finding a just settlement to this rail dispute, not attack the democratic rights of working people."

Nor is it an isolated attack. Just a few days before that, the Fire Brigades Union accused the government over attacking workers' rights following the publication of a white paper entitled "Reforming our Fire and Rescue Service" on May 18. "At the heart of this White Paper," points out FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, "is the threat of an attack on workers' rights by undermining collective bargaining and a proposal to remove frontline firefighters' voices." Through references to "cumbersome industrial relationships" and asserting that "a series of national agreements (the 'tripartite agreement') had to be painstakingly negotiated" during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, the paper seeks to undermine the longstanding National Joint Council made up of local authority and trade union representatives as well as the tripartite agreement between the FBU, National Employers and the National Fire Chiefs Council that has been in place for the past two years, according to the FBU, who have condemned the paper as "false and insulting".

There have also been reports of arrests of trade unionists, in what appears to be a push for the use of police powers following the passing of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act. On May 27, police in East Sussex arrested three trade union officials - Gary Palmer, FTO Declan MacIntyre and a local representative - and charged them with obstructing the highway during their attempt to prevent strike-breaking at an official picket line outside a Biffa site, during a dispute over pay and conditions. They are due in court on June 29.

The following day, RMT Union Belfast branch secretary Danny McQuaid was arrested at a demonstration against P&O at Larne Harbour. He was later released without charge.

It appears that the government is going on a new offensive against attack workers' rights, particularly union rights and the right to strike, to facilitate strike-breaking, and so on.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Threatening the right to strike tilts the balance in the workplace too far towards the employers. And it means workers can't stand up for decent services and safety at work - or defend their jobs or pay. We will fight these unfair and unworkable proposals to undermine unions and undermine the right to strike. And we will win."

These attacks on workers' rights show that the government is having to confront the power of the workers' movement at this time. In these large actions and others, which are only set to increase in size and frequency in conditions of spiralling price inflation, the workers' movement is revealing itself as a force demanding recognition.

Workers are speaking out, they are presenting solutions to the crisis, and they are coming forward with their demands. As the trade unions put it, workers demand better: they are demanding change, and in particular, a change in the direction of the economy.

The government is being forced to respond, and its response consists of refusing to recognise and recognise any rights whatsoever, pushing on with its programme that favours the interests of the rich and attempting to silence the workers' movement. It goes without saying that this does nothing to address the increasing disequilibrium in the social relation between employer and employee referred to Francis O'Grady; indeed, it serves to create further disequilibrium.

The workers - such as the rail workers, for example - are not a special interest group, as the government asserts. They have maintained their social responsibility, especially during the pandemic.

Only the working class holds the solutions to the crisis. It is in the recognition of their rights and the rights of all that the future lies. They are a force to be reckoned with, standing against privatisation, concerned with the future direction of society and the economy. It is essential that the workers continue to speak out, in their own name, and develop their independent thinking and outlook. They should demand the power to do this, to present their own solutions, and demand that they be implemented. We congratulate them in their struggles, which are giving workers the confidence to achieve their pro-social aims.

(Sources: Union News, TUC, The Independent, Trucker World.)

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