TUC to march for a ‘New Deal’ – is it enough?
Saturday 12th May will see tens of thousands of trade unionists and their families take to the streets of central London as part of the TUC organised march,called under the banner of ‘A new deal for working people.’ The Socialist Party is supporting this demonstration – as we point out in the current edition of The Socialist newspaper (which will be available on the march) we believe this demonstration should be a launch pad for coordinated industrial action on pay and against the Tory austerity agenda.
As the following comments from a UNISON shop steward in Coventry point out, we think that the movement needs to go far beyond what the official TUC material puts forward in order to beat back austerity. If you agree with the comments please get in touch, and help us build support for the policies and programme needed for real socialist change.
Comments from a UNISON activist in Coventry, speaking in a personal capacity
The demonstration takes place at a time when the Tory government is in crisis. Torn by splits over Brexit, May lurches from one problem to another – from the NHS to the disgraceful treatment of the Windrush generation. This march could be an ideal springboard to energise the movement in order to step up the fight against the Tories with the clear aim of evicting the government as soon as possible. It is therefore potentially a wasted opportunity that the publicity for the demonstration has not been linked clearly to this aim – in The Socialist this week we propose that the trade union movement must mobilise behind the banner of ‘May out! Tories out! General election now!’
The TUC have called the demonstration under the campaign banner of ‘A new deal for working people’ which is explained in an 8 page document on the TUC website.
The document calls for fair pay, the chance to learn in the workplace, an end to zero hour contracts and many other laudable aims. Unfortunately it has scant detail about how these issues will be won other than to say what the TUC would like to see from politicians and employers. There is no mention of co-ordinated industrial action to win a ‘new deal’, which the TUC could play a key role in organising.
It is worth adding that the TUC has helped, with the right wing leaders of the larger trade unions, to squander a major opportunity in 2011 with the pensions dispute to bring down the coalition government. Meanwhile my own union UNISON has accepted a below inflation pay deal (ie a pay cut) in local government and is battling to get workers in the NHS to accept a poor deal. The National Shop Stewards Network will be holding a major conference on 7th July to discuss how we can build a genuine fightback against austerity and the important role unions can play in this.
Like other TUC material, where there is talk of wanting a ‘fairer’ economy, there is no mention about either the root cause of the problems facing working class people, or what will be required for real improvements in our lives.
The key question is the economy. What type of economy do we need that will put working class people before the profits of the few. The TUC document does not mention this at all. We think that we need to build a movement that can break with the capitalist system. It is impossible to have a ‘fair’ economy under capitalism, where the profits and the interests of a tiny minority will always come first.
Socialists fight for every single improvement we can get under capitalism – higher wages, improving of terms and conditions, decent pensions to name but a few. Stronger, more militant trade unions will be a vital part of this fight. At the same time under the present system any advances we make will always be of a temporary nature as the capitalists attempt to claw back the gains that our movement makes. That’s why we need to fight for a society that will genuinely be ‘for the many, not the few’; a socialist society that brings in to public ownership the banks, financial institutions and industry under democratic workers control, so we can plan the economy for human need, not private profit.
Lets use this demo as a springboard to get the Tories out, and fight for the only ‘deal’ that can bring real change – socialism.
If you agree, please get in touch!