Solidarity with the FBU….

I remember vividly the then contenders for the Labour leadership what their attitude would be to striking firefighters; to say it was lukewarm has to be the understatement of the year. It rather exemplifies the leadership’s inability to listen to each case on its merits and judge accordingly and instead adopt a stance of passive aggressive hostility. Industrial relations in London are looking increasingly bad and that is obviously not down to the unions but the current regimes ‘my way or the highway’ attitude to negotiations. Holding a gun to a parties head is a completely unacceptable way to negotiate but that is exactly the attitude of BoJo’s London Fire Brigade. The (Conservative) Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Brian Coleman said:

“I have to say, firefighters who don’t sign the new contract won’t be re-employed.”

If Labour’s leadership is serious about calling for ‘responsibility’ in industrial relations then that has to cut both ways and the rhetoric above is reckless to the highest degree. A basic democratic deficit exists in our society between rights and the responsibilities of employers and employees with the former enjoying far too much of one and not practising not enough of the other. The emasculation of the trade unions has ‘bent the stick’ towards employers enjoying unlimited power when it comes to how it treats its workforce because the strongest sanction a workforce can exercise against employers ie, collective action is close to being virtually illegal.

While it maybe politically awkward at some point Labour’s leadership is going to have to deal with these questions without regard for its own media image and with a bit more regard for the people it is supposed to represent. Comrades in the FBU deserve solidarity and support, not censure, lets hope the leadership can avoid making the mistake it has previously of dancing to the tune of vested interests outside the labour movement.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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6 responses to “Solidarity with the FBU….”

  1. buddyhell says :

    Over the course of 13 years, the Labour Party has demonstrated its commitment to the neoliberal project and so, as far as they are concerned, the workers can go to hell. Labour in power refused to repeal the draconian labour laws that were introduced by Thatcher. I am not surprised that Labour have responded in weasel words

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    • darrellgoodliffe says :

      Buddy,

      Of course, everything you say is true. However, the question then becomes what do you do about it and I can find no alternative but fighting within the Labour Party itself. Also, while they have been minimal and nowhere near enough you are ignorning some gains made while Labour was in power like the minimum wage so what your saying while not being fundementally untrue is a rather one-sided truth.

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  2. buddyhell says :

    Darrell,
    How can anyone fight “within the Labour Party” when the party has been practically taken over by Blairites? You’ve only cited one thing that Labour did when they were in power. They failed to build new social housing, they continued to marketise the public sector through the disastrous PPP and PFI. Before the 1997 election, Prescott told us that “the railways would be taken into public hands”. Well, guess what happened? The railways remain in private hands. Those TOC’s are free to make money for their shareholders while they continue to receive public subsidies.

    Keir Hardie must be spinning in his grave.

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  3. darrellgoodliffe says :

    buddy,

    Like it or lump it; its still the Party which has the vast majority of trade unions still affiliated to it. My proposal is to try and draw trade unionists into the Party and also try and get them selected as candidates etc, etc which would be a start in the right direction I feel.

    Again I am not disputing what your saying but then again I refer you to the above….

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  4. buddyhell says :

    Darrell,
    In that case, I’m going to lump it. I think any self-respecting socialist should reject the Labour Party. Many trade unionists aren’t happy with a party that can’t even mobilise enough MPs to support John McDonnell’s Lawful Industrial Action Bill, which fell in the Commons due to a lack of support. http://martinwicks.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/lawful-industrial-action-bill-falls-labour-leaders-show-their-contempt-for-the-right-of-workers-to-strike/
    Labour won’t select trade unionists as PPCs while the Blairites control the party.

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  5. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Buddy,

    Well thats your perogrative, of course. I know what happened to the McDonnell Bill and agree with yourself that this was disgraceful. I think whether the Blairites still control the Party is a moot point. You might not think the world of Ed M but he has opened up a period of flux in the Party and that is something I feel, socialists should intervene in.

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