Tuesday, 9 November 2010

FBU and RMT walk away from calls for an early demonstration against the cuts

Two UK unions with militant reputations have abandoned plans to organise a national demonstration before Christmas to oppose government spending cuts.
As reported on The Workers United last week members of the eight-member Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) were considering calling the protest against the wishes of the leaders of the wider labour movement.
But since then two key members of the group - the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT) - have told colleagues that they are no longer in favour of holding an early demonstration. They are believed to fear a poor turnout because of the short notice.
When the Trades Union Congress (TUC) general council met in October it decided not to organise a national protest until next March.
In response the executive of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), meeting on October 26 decided to press on with plans for a national demo - expecting support from other unions in the TUCG.
The PCS has nearly three times as many members as the RMT and FBU put together.
And it would almost certainly have support from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) - as general secretary Jeremy Dear is on record supporting the early demo.
But the chances of a national demo before Christmas now seem very remote.
The TUC is the umbrella organisation for almost all unions in Britain.
The TUCG is made up of eight TUC affilaites who have agreed to work on joint campaigns.
At public meetings all over the country people are asking "why can't we do a France" and organise massive civil disobediance against attacks on jobs and public services. The answer is a lack of confidence on behalf of union leaders and members. If the cuts are to be watered down - never mind defeated - the Labour movement must stop choking.


  1. We're not going to change anything by being timid. And if "public opinion" is going to be scandalised by organised stroppiness, it'll be scandalised in March as well as before Christmas

  2. There is a very real anger brewing - round my way it is people now being put at risk of redundancy in local councils - news is hitting every day of this across the country. It doesn't take an employment law genius to know many at-risk workers are now in consultation for a 90 day period, ending around January some time when they will be laid off. This is a clever calculation by the bosses where the maximum anger will be around Christmas time and by January many workers will have conceded their sackings are a done deal.

    Therefore the call for a demo in March is quite simply too late and too far away for many at risk of losing their jobs.

    In spite of the opportunities presented to us now there is a very real danger the left in general will, yet again, fuck this one up.

    We have so far failed to maximise organising opportunities with the various sects and union groupings going off doing their own things depending on who their mates are.

    I was asked by a confused friend the other day about how to get involved in the anti-cuts stuff and I told her there was a demo in March by the unions - she laughed in my face. I doubt she'll be there, but she may well have gone if there had been one sooner. It then struck me, where DOES your average "non-political" punter on the street go to find out about anti-cuts stuff? Where is the national umbrella group comprising of all this?

    Of course there isn't one, because the left is proving once again utterly incapable of working together. The unions, including most of the left-led ones, try to retain some misguided level of top-down control on all this. Whilst the egos of the leaders of left-sects are predictably and boringly more focused on their own boring and narrow party building as ever.

    The reason we are not "doing a France" is because the left desperately need to actually relinquish some control and let things develop organically - whilst obviously providing the resources, support and services we have.

    Sadly the top-down, managerial nature of our society is stopping us from allowing this. And, as the mammoth anti-war movement dissipated, so shall the fledgling anti-cuts movement if we don't have a marked change in approach.

  3. Loz, you are rightly angry, very angry and with every right to be so. You have stated a lot of truths and these are indisputable,particularly with regard to teh 3 million that marched against the war.

    The trouble was that we assembled our troops 3 million of them and told them that "Akbar Allah" God is Good and B_liar will see the light. What should have happened was workers on that platform calling for occupations, and where occupations were not possible strikes.
    Lets now call for localised actions for occupations of ALL public buildings in our own towns and villages, lets do it before Christmas and organise Christmas parties in these offices, lets escalate and protest at police stations if the Police get involved in civil actions. Lets cook and feed disabled persons who have lost their benefits, jobseekers who have been sanctioned.

    We call for demonstrations and resignations of ALL Trade Union BOSSES earning more than an average skilled worker (We don't need a class divide in our own ranks) if they fail to side with us. Then we occupy OUR TRADE UNION offices as well to direct our actions.

  4. Shame - so what's the chance of it happening now? Have we turned into a nation of people who don't give a toss enough to protest? I don't think so.

  5. ... or don't give a toss enough to protest at short notice...?

  6. Lawrence is right. We're hamstrung on two fronts - the bureaucratic TUC side is too frightened of upsetting people that are never going to be on our side anyway (a New Labour affliction) - and much of the far left is too focused on the minutiae of building rival front organisations and the always essential task of selling its own newspapers.

    As a result, I think we're in too much of a comfort zone, particularly with the cuts. We can't just make it about public sector jobs and services - most people in Britain work in the private sector, we've got to bring their grievances into the picture, and invert this nasty mean-minded "I've had it shit, so everyone else also should" attitude you still hear far too much of.