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Our commitment to trade unionism

The Workers Party reaffirms it’s commitment to our trade unions and the trade union movement.

Our party is unequivocal in its support for our trade unions and the trade union movement, notwithstanding the disappointment that Unite the Union, among others, remain wedded to Labour. That is their choice, our job is to convince them to pursue a different path.

The decision to remain affiliated with Labour as well as the cancellation of a film screening exposing the lies about anti-semitism used to undermine the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn only teach us that there is still much work to be done.

Many trade unions want to acknowledge their memberships anger with Labour, though they usually direct this as anger at Sir Keir Starmer as the sole problem with the Party, whilst also enacting decisions to continue supporting the Labour Party.

There have been calls in recent days by Twitter activists to tear up their union membership, to stage a digital ‘mass walkout’ of these trade unions, and whilst we may sympathise with their frustrations, it is not in the interests of the labour movement to do so.

Firstly, for socialists membership of a trade union is not a moral question, it is an economic one. Trade unionism is a fight for better wages and conditions. The problem of leading them forward to understand the need for socialism, is our problem, and cutting ourselves off from the organised working class only emboldens, encourages and assists the likes of Starmer and the careerists.

Secondly, in this period, the trade unions remain the mass organisations of the labour movement. Until we forge more radical trade unions (and history has shown the difficulty of achieving this), the trade unions are where workers are learning to organise and fight for themselves as workers, as a class. They are held back by the Labour machine and it’s bureaucrats who put the interests of the Labour Party and it’s electoral fortunes above the interests of the rank and file. For that reason we support calls to open up the discussion on disaffiliation, it is a call for trade union independence from Labour, the freedom to put rank and file members interests first.

It is not principled to withdraw from these fights, to abdicate our responsibility in organising workers to push for better pay and conditions. Our task is to help trade unionists draw the conclusion that political action is needed. That political action in Britain, in the current historical conditions is to sever the link between the Labour Party and the trade unions. Only independent trade unions can fix their sights on economic demands and fight for the interests of the members free of concerns of political loyalty to a Party that does not care about them, defend their interests or share their goals.

We must deal with reality as it is, not how we’d like it to be.

New trade unions will emerge, old ones with be consigned to history. Socialists have a key role to play in the ebb and flow of these development within the organised labour movement.

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