Socialist Worker

Letters—Union leaders must do a lot more to secure real change

Issue No. 2622

TGI Fridays

TGI Frdiay's workers need our support, but we need to be more audacious (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) this year passed a number of policies that, if implemented, would make a real difference to working people’s lives.

The call for a four-day working week without the loss of pay and the support for pay bargaining across a whole sector or industry are just two. But how are these going to be implemented?

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have made clear their support for these polices if elected. But employers and others will try to stop them.

Waiting for Labour doesn’t just allow attacks to continue. It weakens the movement’s ability to build the workplace organisation to deliver the action that can defend a future radical Labour government.

Congress passed motions that further institutionalise sectionalism. It supported a GMB and Unison motion and amendment on a just transition and climate change.

The TUC—Managing Workers’ Anger
The TUC—Managing Workers’ Anger
  Read More

These said members who work in the energy industry should make the primary decisions on energy policy.

All workers whatever their industry have an interest in dealing with climate change.

This year’s congress made even fewer calls for action than in previous years.

There are many examples of sectional battles, from TGI Fridays and McDonald’s fast food workers to Birmingham care workers. All need our support.

But we need to be far more bold and audacious.

The 2011 pensions fight showed that we can coordinate action. We have opportunities to do so again.

The UCU union is balloting members over pay. The PCS and NEU could also ballot.

To win changes, we can’t leave it to the least organised. It will take the whole of the movement and especially the most organised and powerful groups of workers.

Sean Vernell

UCU TUC delegate

For a longer version go to

Research shows left isn’t racist

Writing in the Manchester Evening News, councillor Sam Wheeler pointed to research into public attitudes towards Jewish people in Britain.

The findings came from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Its report found that, in relation to voting intention, “the very left wing is indistinguishable from the general population and from the political centre” as far as holding antisemitic views is concerned.

The report also found, “The political left, captured by voting intention or actual voting for Labour, appears in these surveys as a more Jewish-friendly, or neutral, segment of the population.”

In relation to opposing the state of Israel, the report said, “The two attitudes [anti-Israelism and antisemitism] exist both independently of one another and separately.”

We can fight antisemitism and stand alongside Jeremy Corbyn to support the Palestinians.

Mike Killian


Karl Marx said the prevailing ideas in society are the ideas of the ruling class.

Because a reformist party like Labour wants to get the maximum vote, it always adapts itself to the prevailing ideas.

I say vote Labour without illusions.

Mike Archer


Treatment of Serena Williams is a sign of a sick society

The vile cartoon drawn by Mark Knight in the Herald Sun newspaper in Australia of Serena Williams has caused outrage, rightly so.

It reinforces racist and sexist stereotypes of black women.

The cartoon magnifies Serena’s lips and nose, and also portrays her as a child.

It shows her competitor, Naomi Osaka, as a white blonde woman when in fact she is Haitian-Japanese.

This story is one in a long line about the racism and sexism that Serena, like other black women, face.

She was dissed by her doctor for “overreacting” during a near fatal childbirth.

She was mocked for wearing a bodysuit for a match.

It was designed to prevent blood clots soon after she’d given birth.

This cartoon caused so much outrage because racism and sexism are no longer subtle, but in your face.

Naima Omar

South London

Ridiculous reality of ‘self-employment’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is right to promise that a Labour government would clamp down on zero hours contracts and bogus self-employment.

I go to work for a company on its premises. My name is even on the list of staff displayed on the wall.

Yet officially they don’t employ me. My only boss, officially, is myself.

This is the absurd situation that thousands of workers are in.

It allows our real employers to wriggle out of what would otherwise be their obligations to us.

And it leaves those of us in bogus

self-employment or zero hours contracts in a situation of permanent insecurity.

We don’t show up in unemployment figures. Yet we can suddenly find ourselves with no work and no income at no notice.

McDonnell’s speech at the TUC union federation congress had some ideas that were better than others. Shares in the company? You can keep them.

What we need are employment rights and job security.

Dave S

South London

Leaders out of touch on EU

To see some trade union leaders calling for another referendum on the European Union shows how out of touch they are with working class people.

Many of their members will have voted to leave, but it’s another stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn. So far he is standing by the vote of 2016.

John Appleyard


How to boost the fightback

We need a general strike! The TUC has consistently failed to organise collective action.

But then, that was never their role. Unions and the TUC don’t see themselves as challenging government in any meaninful way.

Dave Patton

On Facebook

  • A general strike may be a decent call for a revolutionary socialist.

My real worry is that the rank and file organisation which must by definition be at the heart of that, isn’t in effect there.

But a Labour government with a progressive agenda may be a spark for another set of values.

Gordon Vassell

On Facebook

  • We have needed unions to step up for years but they don’t they just talk about it.

Martin Towle

On Facebook

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Article information

Tue 18 Sep 2018, 10:41 BST
Issue No. 2622
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