This weekend a huge march and rally is being held in London to protest against the Com-Lib government and its austerity policies. The protest has been organised by the Trade Union Congress, representing most of Britain's unionised workers. Here in New Zealand, the Combined Trades Union has woken from its slumbers to call for help for New Zealand manufacturers - instead of the workers it purports to represent. According to blogger Martyn Bradbury this is 'socialism' in action!
This Saturday, October 20, a huge march and rally will be held in London to protest against the Com-Lib Government and its savage austerity policies.
A Future That Works' has been organised by the Trade union Congress (TUC), the umbrella organisation representing most of Britain’s 6.4 million unionised workers. The protest and rally has the active support of a wide range of organisations all around the country. It is expected to be one of the biggest trade union demonstrations that Britain has ever seen.
While many are disappointed that the TUC have taken nearly 18 months to organise a follow up to the “March for the Alternative” protest in March 2011, when half a million people were on the streets of London, this protest will allow the British people as one writer puts it to 'show our anger and our indignation at how our country is being wrecked, and our people punished, for other people’s crimes — the near-fatal crashing of the global economy in 2008, through bankers’ greed on a mind-boggling scale, aided and abetted by the politicians with their mania for deregulation, and the alleged economist experts who almost all failed to notice what was going on.'
The organisers have stated, “We are approaching a mix of trades unionists and public figures to speak about how austerity isn’t working, the need to invest in jobs and growth and to defend quality public services.”
Wouldn't it be great if the Combined Trades Union (CTU) decided to use its resources to organise something similar here? Wouldn't it be great if the CTU finally decided to OPPOSE this government and its policies? Wouldn't it great if the CTU abandoned 'modern unionism' and rediscovered its fighting spirit? Wouldn't it be great if the CTU put people first instead of playing footsie with the government and business?
I'm sure that it could count on the support of a broad range of political and community organisations, united in their opposition to the Key Government and its continued attacks on ordinary people.
But perhaps, unfortunately, I'm being just too hopeful.
After all, we've seen nothing from the CTU of late other than its embarrassing support for the ludicrous nationalist campaign to 'save' New Zealand manufacturers, a campaign organised by the conservative and Labour Party dominated, Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU).
I don't recall the EPMU actually asking its membership if it supported this half-baked campaign but, given the lack of democracy within the union movement, I'm not surprised. All this campaign is designed to do is channel support to David Shearer and his box of neoliberal policies.
And, yet, we have seen Labour Party cheerleaders like Martyn Bradbury laughingly trying to pass this campaign off as somehow 'socialist'!
Of last weekend's 'Jobs Summit' that launched this silly campaign, he wrote: 'I've never seen a room seething with such socialism. If this meeting had been held in the 1930's we would have all been arrested. ' This must be one of the most absurd comments I've read in recent times.
What's 'socialist' about the CTU cuddling up to manufacturers while ordinary people - workers, schoolchildren, students, the old, the ill, the homeless, the unemployed and the disabled - remain under the cosh of the government's austerity policies?
So when you see the television images of the people marching in the streets of London, think also about why it isn't being done here. Think too about why we should continue to put up with a CTU that won't fight for the interests of the people it claims to represent. Think too about why the level of debate is so infantile that a union campaign to help New Zealand manufacturers can be described as 'socialist'.