Long story short, we face a hell of a battle over the next five years. Tories like Gove and Patel have made it their stated goal to destroy working-class institutions and severely curtail our ability to offer resistance to the agenda of big business. We saw this before with the Trade Union Act of 2016. Get ready for another one.
The main lines of attack will be:
1) limit strikes in effective areas like transport etc. It was Tory election policy to prevent the RMT from taking strike action, they will come for that most militant section of the movement first. Similarly we will see more and more legal injunctions along the lines of what happened with the CWU now that the precedent has been set.
2) they will outlaw check-off – workers paying their subs via their wages. This will take up to a million workers out of the movement overnight and mean we spend untold effort and resources dealing with that rather than fighting or organising. We need to start shifting our people onto direct debit now as best we can.
3) They will restrict the strike even further. Their “code to picketing” will become law meaning only 6 workers allowed on a picket. They will likely increase strike notice to a month and lastly, will probably legalise the hiring of agency scabs.
So what do we do?
1) We need to organise, organise, organise. People will join and engage with unions if they are viable vehicles to push their interests as workers. We need to identify key sectors of the economy and build power within them, putting workers at the head of a strategy to win with them in control. The current state of the movement isn’t fit for purpose, we are not here to be an insurance policy for workers. The idea that our job is to ‘steady the ship’, get bullshit recognition deals and 3% pay deals needs to go out the window. We need to be aggressive, bolshy and combative. They are coming to wipe us out. The status quo within the movement needs to be changed.
2) The TUC should be coordinating on all of this. Why isn’t their a national campaign on outsourcing in hospitals and local authorities? Where are the plans to come together to take on the logistics operators? Where is the mass drive across the unions on the issue of care workers? Either the TUC steps up and acts as the lynchpin for this work or it needs to go in the fucking bin to be honest. Millions of pounds and thousands of hours spent on a talking shop from what I can see.
3) we need to focus on a ‘rate for the job’. Take buses, why do we have ten different pay deals for ten different companies? Same with refuse workers, care workers etc etc. We should be saying “if you’re a binman in London then x is the minimum rate” and then going after all of these councils and outsourcers with a mass city-wide campaign. Having the odd strike here and there is like attacking a hippo with a fly-swatter. Setting the rate and organising all workers at once is what the Teamsters did in America and as a result they became the most powerful union in history. Time to get back to that era of militancy.
4) Lastly, it strikes and pickets are legislated out of existence we need to be prepared to break the law. If workers are banned from picketing then others must do it for us. There are hundreds of thousands of engaged young people out there now crying out for direction. Why not stick 200 of them on a hard picket blocking scabs? Or have a hundred of them invade board meetings with drums and whistles?
There is a movement out there now, let’s try and bring it together and crystallize it into something hard and defiant and powerful.