The following excerpt of Dennis de Jong’s article, ‘the trade union movement at European level’ (Dennis de Jong, 2010), shows the difficulty facing any trade union that seeks to influence policies on a national level. National policies are dictated by multinational corporations who demand that their puppet governments create a ‘flexible’ and cheap workforce. There are only slight variations in this choice, whatever the name of the UK political party or parties fronting the multinationals.
‘Since the mid-1980s, Brussels has been associated first and foremost with Europe’s neoliberal policies. The trade union movement in Europe appears to have been taken in by Brussels’ institutions and thus rendered harmless … (There is a) blue print for a neoliberal Europe: a clear run for unbridled competition, even if this should be at the cost of social rights, market rules for the public sector, and ‘flexibilisation’ of the labour market (for which read: getting rid of protection from dismissal), to name just a few examples. The multinationals got their wish. … The trade union movement plays no role in this scenario. … I would put the blame for the movement’s scant influence on the EU primarily on three factors: (1) lack of sufficient personnel; (2) infection of representatives in Brussels with the EU virus; (3) a complete absence of militancy on the part of the trade unions themselves. … If you compare this to the major corporations’ enormous lobby industry, it’s no wonder that the trade union movement doesn’t get much of a hearing. … To stay critical of European policies, you must be sure to maintain close contact with your supporters, because everything in Brussels is designed to take you in and win you over. … The European Federation of Public Service Unions … does raise important criticisms regarding the continuing introduction of market methods into the public sector.
Developed in the framework of the Lisbon Agenda, which was to make Europe’s economy the most competitive in the world by this year, this idea included accepting that workers could no longer be offered effective protection against dismissal, and that instead you should direct yourself towards guaranteeing employment in a general sense. Pity if you find it agreeable to work for the same employer for any length of time, because after a few years you’ll have to go looking for another job. And a shame if by coincidence there happens to be a crisis on and there are absolutely no other jobs to be had. But the trade union movement believes that ‘flexicurity’ is good for everyone. Yet this isn’t about ‘modernisation’ but rather an attempt to allow employers to dictate matters. So it’s unbelievable that the unions have adopted such an idea.
In the last few years there have been moments when the trade unions did indeed make a fist of things. This occurred in the response to the Port Services Directive and to the Services (‘Bolkestein’) Directive. Here were two instruments which would have led in each case to extremely adverse effects on the position of workers. The rank-and-file wasn’t prepared to put up with this and offered massive resistance: tens of thousands of dockworkers demonstrated on Rotterdam’s Coolsingel against the Port Services Directive, while it also proved possible to organise large-scale protests in Brussels and Strasbourg. The visibility of so many angry workers meant that the European institution could no longer ignore their interests. The Port Services Directive was withdrawn and the Services Directive amended.
So, it can be done! And that’s why it’s important to strengthen contacts with the trade union movement in Brussels. At the same time it’s necessary to ensure that pressure on union representatives in Brussels is exerted from within and without: don’t let yourself be seduced by the Brussels institutions, but listen to the rank-and-file, and listen well! Also – invest time and effort in European and international contacts. It will never be financially possible to defeat the multinationals’ lobby, but if you can resist or force changes to legislation in Brussels, it will save you an enormous amount of work on the national level’.
Some may disagree with Dennis de Jong’s optimism. UK unions are not going to call for an end to the hegemony of multinational corporations, and of puppet governments in their pay, for, to do so would be to advocate revolution, and to attempt to overcome military oppression. Unions will continue to engage in weak protests, and in pleading for concessions from their masters, and their masters may humour them for a time, throwing them a few scraps fron their whiskey-laden tables, but this will cease when subjugation is complete, and workers are told that they should be grateful for their two slices of daily bread, for they could only be given one, and this will be conveyed to them by their ‘unions’, as subscription-gathering representatives of slaves. It does not matter whether the union is called the RCN, UNISON, or UNITE; same beast. Russell Brand is correct, what is needed is a revolution, a sweeping away of the dictatorship dressed as democracy model of oppression, and of all its representatives, ‘unions’ included. This is very unlikely to happen. You will be fed just enough, bread, that is, followed by a big dish of propaganda.
As for the Labour Party, to paraphrase Denis de Jong: Since the mid-1980s, Brussels has been associated first and foremost with Europe’s neoliberal policies. The Labour Party appears to have been taken in by Brussels’ institutions and thus rendered harmless … (There is a) blue print for a neoliberal Europe: a clear run for unbridled competition, even if this should be at the cost of social rights, market rules for the public sector, and ‘flexibilisation’ of the labour market (for which read: getting rid of protection from dismissal), to name just a few examples. The multinationals got their wish … the Labour Party, the tinkerer of their master’s system of a neoliberal Europe, dressed in the garb of its combatant.
THE REASON FOR THE LABOUR PARTY BEING SO WEAK IN THE OPINION POLLS IS THAT THEY ABANDONED THE PRINCIPLES OF SOCIALISM AND MANY OF THOSE ABANDONED WILL NO LONGER SUPPORT THEM, AS IS THE CASE IN SCOTLAND, WHERE THE SNP ATTRACT AS MANY FROM AN ANTI NEOLIBERALIST PERSPECTIVE AS THEY DO FROM A NATIONALIST ONE.
VOTE CONSERVATIVE – VOTE SLAVERY
VOTE LABOUR – VOTE SLAVERY WITH A TWEAK
VOTE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT – VOTE FOR WHATEVER GETS THEM A MINISTERIAL CAR
lenin nightingale 2015