“Winter of Discontent nears as TUC backs strikes and class war” proclaimed one of many similar newspaper headlines in the week the British 2007 TUC conference met in Brighton. In the Observer of that week, columnist Will Hutton wrote the “ Trade Unions have the perfect chance to send Bob Crowe and his ilk to join the dodo” This came in an article which quite correctly pointed out the vital need for the TU to work to recruit new members if Britain is to become a civilized society, as they are the main defense mechanism that working people possess in their fight against unfettered capitalism of the type that is prevalent today.
Yet in writing his dodo rubbish, Mr Hutton appears oblivious to the fact that the trade union that Bob Crowe leads the RMT is one of the most successful in the United Kingdom when it comes to negotiating for its membership, decent wages, defending pension rights and working conditions. For these reasons alone many younger workers find Bob Crowe an inspiration and a living example of why it is important to not only join a trade union but become an active participant within it.
Yet for doing the job his members pay him for and in the process leading from the front, Columnists like Mr Hutton appear only to keen to condemn Bob Crowe and those working class people he represents with smart mouth quotes about trade union dodos, dinosaurs and talk of class war breaking out. When in reality all they are doing is fighting back against the sweat shop mentality of many the United Kingdom’s employers.
Knock knock one is tempted to proclaim from the tallest tower megaphone in hand. What world do these supposed liberal minded scribes exist in. In the work places of the UK the most vicious class war has been taking place since 1979 and it has been the employers armed with anti trade union legislation who have been at its fore.
After Mrs Thatcher came to power she set in motion the most heartless and vicious class war against the mass of working class people. Capital with its Conservative Party class war warriors and middle class managerial foot-solders to the fore, began conducting an on going campaign which is designed to pauperize and de-unionize whole sections of the workforce Since 1979 when this class war exploded onto the national stage, whole industries have been decimated and have disappeared from the national landscape. Often for no better reason than to punish working class people for organizing collectively.
There is no better example of this than the decimation of the United Kingdom’s Coal mining communities and make no mistake it was no accident that this industry, which was solidly organized by committed trade unionists found itself first to come under attack in this new class war. All sections of the UK State machine were lined up to take part in the initial campaign of the British governments war upon its own people. The security services, police, military, the legal system, the media and the political establishment were all called to arms. Communities which had been carefully crafted over decades had the heart and soul ripped from within them whilst they struggled desperately to maintain a decent way of life.
Not for the sound economic reasons the perpetrators media gofers falsely claimed at the time, but for low self interest so that the haves can fill their greedy pockets at the expense of the have nots. Now we are told King Coal is to be once again returned to his throne, but not as in the past with civilized structures, living and working conditions but as a lumpen industry whose workers will be contract labour with little job security or the protection of adequate safety standards.
Since the defeat of the Great Miners Strike of 1984 and subsequent political events, the political and economic representatives of Capital have continued to chip away at centuries of working class gains. In many parts of the UK the social and economic structures have reverted to pre World War Two times, when Capital last conducted a vicious and spiteful class war against the mass of working class people. The consequences of Capitals class war are there for all to see. Today the United Kingdom has some of the most oppressive anti trade union laws within the EU, which has resulted in the people of the UK toiling at their place of work longer than their EU counterparts whilst the gap between the economically rich and poor grows increasingly wider.
Of course it is no accident that the gofers of Capital in the media have targeted Bob Crowe, a man along with his members in the RMT who have led the fight back against exploitative working conditions and low wages and within the very industries that Thatcher created to break trade union representation. I have no doubt that Bob Crowe and the membership of the RMT will regard any attacks on them as a badge of honor and so they should. For defending the living standards of working class people is to be admired and only the shallow and greedy denigrate such people.
The likes of Mr Hutton can bleat all they like about the need for the Trade Unions to change there ways and join the rush for globalization but what is the point of a Trace Union, if it cannot defend its members best interest and in any case where are their demands that Capital changes it rotten and exploitative ways.
Capital with its political pointmen in the Conservative Party started this class war and today New Labour continues it. Their only interest is the bottom line and the mass of humanity is simply the engine which produces it. Thus we workers have no choice but to combine collectively within our trade unions and political organization and unite as comrades with our brothers and sisters over seas, who are also engaged in their own often far more brutal class war against Neo-liberal globalization.