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TUC: Lost opportunity to organise a united struggle
Glenn Kelly, Socialist Party industrial organiser
With the Tories in meltdown, having lost their majority, and Boris Johnson reeling and on the ropes, many workers would be hoping that Labour and the trade unions would now deliver the knockout blow and force them from office.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) meeting for its conference this week was ideally placed to lay down plans to mobilise its 6.5 million members to see the Tories off.
In the debate on Brexit, a number of speakers from Unite the Union, civil service union PCS, and FBU, the firefighters' union, said "we need to unite leave and remain voters", "the real fight is against austerity", "we must not allow our class to be divided", and "we want a general election".
However, unfortunately, not one union proposed a way to achieve this as advocated by Socialist Party members in the unions and at the National Shop Stewards' Network rally.
TUC president Mark Serwotka did say he wanted a national demonstration for a general election. The only problem was it wasn't on the agenda.
This was because Serwotka, along with the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Voice, had opposed an emergency motion to go to the TUC moved by Socialist Party and Broad Left Network members of the PCS national executive committee just a few days before the TUC.
This motion included the demand for the TUC to call a demonstration before 31 October.
At the TUC, not a single concrete proposal was put forward to either unite workers or help oust the Tories. In fact, the TUC took a step further towards division by not only supporting a second referendum but also moving towards a remain position of overturning the 2016 referendum result.
This would only serve to set one union member against another, playing into Boris Johnson's hands.
The rail union TSSA and the Musicians' Union motion calling for a second referendum with remain on the ballot was agreed. Verbally the movers went further than the text by calling for Article 50 to be revoked and for a campaign for a remain position in a second referendum.
The main TUC general council statement was also voted through with opposition only from the RMT rail union (which unfortunately chose not to speak in the debate). The statement called for a general election, then a second confirmatory vote on any new deal, with remain on the ballot paper.
However, it didn't propose any action by the trade union movement to fight for a general election.
It was a grave lost opportunity that the TUC failed to organise a united struggle of all workers - whether they voted leave or remain - to get the Tories out. Left union leaders urgently need to make such a call.
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