UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The irresponsibility of the ultra left‏

Real world trade unionists are acutely aware that we secure maximum leverage in a dispute when the threat of industrial action is bearing down on the employer. This is particularly the case in the long running high stakes British Airways dispute where cabin crew workers have been on the receiving end of ruthless victimisation, redolent of Murdoch at News International and McGregor at the National Coal Board. And efforts by the union to secure a negotiated settlement have been hamstrung by the anti union laws.

It is a dispute where the forces of the state have ranged against Unite - Government past and present, the judiciary and the media - and yet the heroic workforce has sustained the dispute and are courageously moving towards 5 days of strike action starting tomorrow (Monday 24 May).

Nonetheless, an aggressive and bullying management - hellbent on breaking the union - have been locked into last ditch talks with the union at ACAS with the assistance and presence of the TUC. Paramount concern for the principled Unite leadership is securing justice for those members picked off by management during the past 6 months of industrial attrition.

Step forward the saboteurs of the Socialist Workers Party - in full petit bourgeois, anti-working class glory. Stage extras beyond the imagination of the Special Branch and the BA company spin machine.


The angry references of Tony Woodley to ‘idiots', 'outsiders' and 'lunatics' will be met with a wry smile by much of UNISON's activist base. It will not go unnoticed that UNISON GS candidate Paul Holmes is beholden to the SWP machine at both branch level (Kirklees) and nationally where from Telford to Tower Hamlets SWP cadres have pushed for his nomination in accordance with the party line. He would not be on the ballot paper without them.

And Derek Simpson's bemused comment on Radio 5 live 'how did they know we were meeting here' (insinuating an agent provocateur conspiracy of sorts) is easily explained. ACAS shares its Euston Road offices with the Certification Officer - a place where SWP members beat a regular path to use anti union laws against the unions, more often than not accompanied by their full time industrial organiser.

Yesterday's infantile stunt was the not an act of solidarity but self indulgent, kamikaze and wreckless sabotage which has no place in the labour movement.
The gesture politics of the SWP is the antithesis of Gregor Gall's recent call for 'tight workplace organisation and strategic grass-roots leadership' in order to mount an effective industrial fightback against the anti-union laws.