Saturday, 12 November 2011

Quote of the day... that dear friend of the working class, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude;
We're willing to accommodate some kind of token action, I can't imagine any employer in the public sector would say if you have a token strike of a quarter of an hour during the day which doesn't affect public services, you lose a day's pay.
Oh, well isn't that nice of him? The government has forced workers to the point where around 20 trade unions across the public sector are taking strike action to stop the attacks on their pensions, but it'll let us have a "token" strike as long as we don't disrupt anything.

Far be it from me to remind Maude that the purpose of a strike is to cause economic disruption. They are called so that workers can shift the balance of power with the bosses and show that, because we are the ones responsible for the production from which they reap profits or revenue, they should listen to us and meet our demands rather than doing as they wish with and to us. It's certainly not my place to point out that industrial unrest, or the threat of it, is how workers have won every improvement in terms and conditions since the days of the dark satanic mills.

However, if I do, we can be sure that Maude has an answer: that is, shut up and do as I say, or you will be punished. Unless the unions begin “engaging intensively to find an agreement” the government will find "making the case for legislative reform ever more compelling and much harder to resist." You have the right to strike, chaps, but don't you dare do it or we'll have to change the law.

Now, I have no doubt that certain union leaders would happily leap upon such a proposition. We already know that Brendan Barber has been looking for a way out, and that the fighting rhetoric of the union tops is inspired by the anger from their members that they cannot ignore rather than their own militancy. Thus, though I don't see any union leader being stupid enough to call a 15-minute strike on 30 November, I can see the argument cropping up in the future that it's in members' interests not to "force" the government to consider tougher strike laws.

For my own part, and with luck for a lot of other working class militants, there is only one rational response to all this. That is, to continue organising and building the confidence of rank-and-file workers to respond to any further legislation the way the original anti-union laws should have been met: with active defiance, direct action and solidarity.

Fuck you, Francis Maude, and all the shit you're selling.