As Unite union members vote in a leadership election dominated by debate about the Labour Party, the Tories are using the military to break strikes.
It has ordered Royal Navy personnel to scab on the strike by civilian staff at the Faslane and Coulport naval bases in Scotland.
Unite members employed by Babcock Marine are taking a staggered series of strikes alongside an overtime and on-call ban to defend their right to organise.
They accuse Babcock of victimising reps, withdrawing facilities to union meetings and failing to consult the union.
Ian Allinson, the rank-and-file candidate for general secretary, told Socialist Worker, “This is an attack on trade unions and we mustn’t let it stand.
“We can build a general campaign against the government. We have lots of members in Babcock and the Ministry of Defence who can put them under pressure—why aren’t we doing that?”
Unite have also slammed oil baron Jim Ratcliffe’s attempt to tear up agreements at the Grangemouth oil refinery, where workers have endured a three?year pay freeze.
The Grangemouth workers have immense potential power. But the union set a dangerous precedent by backing down in the face of Ratcliffe’s threat to close the plant in 2013.
Ian said, “The pay freeze is the result of a dreadful deal done in 2013 after Ratcliffe held Unite to ransom.
“We need to make sure we don’t fall for his blackmail again. We need to take him on—and look at threatening nationalisation.”
Right wing candidate, Unite’s West Midlands secretary Gerard Coyne, blamed incumbent Len McCluskey for provoking attacks. The opposite is true—Unite has got too close to bosses.
McCluskey even told BBC Radio Jersey recently that he would oppose measures against tax evasion in case they threatened bank workers’ jobs.
Allinson said, “The poison of ‘partnership’ with employers is seeping into every sector.
“Instead of coming up with a plan for workers, Unite is just getting behind the bosses’ current business model.
“It’s much too passive. Automation and climate change will bring colossal changes. If we’re not proactive and independent we won’t be able to defend jobs.”
McCluskey and Coyne supporters are trying to reduce the election to a proxy war between Labour’s left and right.
But Allinson said, “I’ve found while campaigning that even in workplaces that nominated Coyne the support for him is wafer-thin.
“There are huge opportunities to meet members who are frustrated at Unite’s inadequate response to attacks from the government and the employers and want something more robust.”
Solidarity to Fujitsu strikers
IT services workers were set to strike at Fujitsu across Britain on Thursday in their ongoing fight over job security, pay, pensions and union recognition.
It is the fifth nationwide strike day with three others planned this month. The dispute comes on the back of local strikes in Manchester. The workers are in the Unite union.
Supporters are welcome on picket lines taking place in Blackpool, Basingstoke, Birmingham, Bracknell, Crewe, Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Stevenage, Wakefield and Warrington.