Saturday, 9 May 2015

What next for organised labour?


Without doubt the 2015 general election outcomes present organised labour with considerable short and long-term challenges.

Len McCluskey's statement represents, I feel, an important state of preparedness in what will clearly be  a difficult five years' ahead.

What we have been promised by the Tories is an economic and political landscape which can only accelerate the range and degree of economic inequality in the UK, not least in the manifesto commitment to cut deeper into the welfare budget.

We know also that the Tories plan to render industrial action as beyond the means and scope of trade union members in seeking redress for legitimate grievances.

The press release issued by the TUC yesterday of Frances O'Grady's statement on the election outcomes represents the concerns of us all.

This was not a one nation campaign

“We have to hope that David Cameron’s pledge to govern as a one nation Prime Minister will be his first major U-turn - for his campaign and manifesto was anything but.

“His main political tactic was to talk up nationalism and deny the legitimacy of Scottish voters. And his programme for government is as divisive as they come.

“The welfare cuts that he has refused to outline only add up if taken from those in low paid work and the vulnerable, and will be used to fund tax cuts for the better off.

“His proposals on trade union law are so draconian that they would make legal strikes close to impossible. This puts him far to the right of almost every mainstream party in advanced democracies, and is likely to leave many of his more thoughtful backbenchers uneasy at a time when living standards are still running well below pre-crash levels.

He will face an unprecedented campaign from Britain’s unions against this attack on the basic rights of people at work.

“The prospect of a referendum on Europe will be destabilising for business and the economy. Many of our best jobs and workplace rights depend on EU membership. I say to business leaders today that if you press for stripping away worker rights, environmental protection and consumer safeguards as part of a renegotiation then it will be harder to win the yes vote we need for a prosperous Britain.
“Other parties have had a disappointing night with talented and serious figures from both Labour and Liberal Democrats losing their seats. Opposition parties should not rush to glib explanations for what looks like a complex result with very different trends in different parts of the country.

“But while they will need time and energy to rebuild they should not go quiet and allow the new government to win arguments uncontested - especially as we still only see a slow and patchy recovery that could be easily derailed by deep rushed spending cuts. “

In Solidarity


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