Saturday, May 22, 2010

FT let the cat out of the bag

Has anybody got any lingering doubts of the government's intentions? The Financial Times – house journal of the capitalist class – let the cat out of the bag in an article on 20 May 2010

“ Before the election, the coalition parties aimed to avoid a direct confrontation with the unions. They now appear braced for a pitched battle.

“The unions were always bound to figure prominently in this parliament. The government must rein in a fiscal deficit of 11.1 per cent of output. Public jobs and pay must bear the brunt of spending cuts. In the state sector,68 per cent of employees are bound by collective pay agreements.

“The parties’ manifestos suggested plans to outflank the unions. They wanted to force through tight pay settlements while undermining the unions by contracting out an increased share of public services to private providers. The coalition agreement sets out a path to direct confrontation.”

Of course the “must” in this article is disingenuous. They take as read that the working class, starting with the public sector, “must” pay the price for a crisis not of their making. There is no “must” about it.

The government will throw down the gauntlet to the trade union movement. The nice Cameron/Clegg mask will be torn off to reveal the Thatcher within.
In particular for teachers, the national pay and conditions agreements will be torn up. The FT puts it like this

“More explosively, the new government intends to attack national pay bargaining. It wants to “reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules…” for schools. If anything, the coalition’s ambition should be greater. National pay bargaining is a problem well beyond education.”

They have a touching faith in the combativity of the trade union leaders. Yes this should be “explosive” but it is up to the rank and file to make sure it actually is “explosive” Trade union leaders of “left” and “right” may seek delay and compromise as they have always done in the past.

And as the FT clearly understand, a defeat for the teacher unions will be the harbinger of a defeat for workers with national pay bargaining unless they are prepared to fight back.

NUT Executive member Martin Powell Davies' call for the June executive to indicate that a strike ballot will be the response to any such attack from the government is timely.
And we are fully aware that strike action is not enough, this is political attack requiring a political response.

And New Labour has always sought to destroy national pay bargaining through precisely the tactics laid out in this FT article. Those union leaders who continue to back New Labour are acting against the interests of their members.

Anyone who voted for the LibDems to keep the Tories out will be reconsidering now. We need a party for the common people – a party of the working class.
Derek McMillan

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