Socialist Party
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14 June 2003

New Labour Isn't Working

Build A New Workers' Party

WHILE BROWN and Blair have been bickering about the euro, the jobs massacre has been picking up pace. 400 manufacturing jobs have been lost every day since the beginning of the year.

Bill Mullins Socialist Party trade union organiser

A total of 42,012 workers and their families have been thrown onto the scrap heap, all because this system cannot run without making working people pay. This slaughter is not just in the manufacturing sector but increasingly in the service and financial sector as well.

As Tony Woodley, the newly elected leader of the TGWU, says in an exclusive interview with the socialist this week (see page 10): "They (the workers) want a union that stops factories closing down and workers losing their jobs. Obscenely, workers are not even sacked over the phone any more, they get text messages. It's absolutely outrageous that we haven't got the same labour laws and protection as other working men and women in Europe."

The debate over whether it would be better for British capitalism to be in or out of the euro will not make a blind bit of difference to the economic problems and attacks on workers' jobs and conditions. The truth is that on the basis of an economy being run on capitalist lines then money will be invested wherever the biggest profits can be made.

The fight to defend jobs against the oncoming catastrophe will be both industrial and political.

Industrially the coming together of a new layer of left trade union leaders and a willingness to fight by working people will increasingly come up against the anti-union laws. These laws will have to be pushed to one side if they are not to be an insurmountable hurdle to working people acting collectively to defend their interests.

Just as important will be the political front. Tony Woodley dismisses the idea of a new mass workers' party as a "pipedream" and calls for workers to reclaim the Labour Party. However, the real lives and experiences of working people - job cuts, privatisation, low pay and a government that puts the interests of big business whether in Britain, Iraq or elsewhere before those of workers - mean that the tide is moving in the opposite direction, away from New Labour.

The campaign for a new party that can stand up for the interests of ordinary working people is gaining increasing support, and the unions, most of which are holding their annual conferences over the summer period, have a crucial role to play in ensuring that such a party is built.