“Only by showing solidarity with workers taking industrial action, supporting genuine, transformative socialist policies, & creating stronger links with Trade Unions can the Labour Party get back on track to having the support of young people.”
By Fraser McGuire, Secretary of Derbyshire Young Labour
On Thursday 27th July, Young Labour members joined RMT picket lines across the country and showed solidarity with workers taking industrial action. Meanwhile, the Labour Party leadership encouraged MPs not to attend picket lines and fired Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry for his “unauthorised media appearances” at a picket line in Euston, a decision branded a ‘severe mistake’ by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Seeming to contrast with the current position of the national party, the majority of Young Labour committee members have unconditionally supported the right of workers to strike and have encouraged young members to turn out to local picket lines and show solidarity.
One key reason why Young Labour members, and young people in general, fight to support striking workers is because the struggle against bad employers, unfair labour laws and restrictions on trade unions and workers’ rights affects every one of us to a significant extent. People working in every industry and sector in the UK, from every demographic and age group, the unemployed and the retired all benefit when Trade Unions win, as these victories place power back in the hands of workers and empowers our struggle for fair pay, good jobs, and decent working conditions.
Young people specifically often find themselves at the forefront of the struggle against precarious working conditions, as those aged 16-24 are shown, alongside women, to be the most likely demographic employed on zero hours contracts, with no guaranteed hours each week. This likelihood of unfair contracts further enhances the motivations of many young people to support other workers in struggle.
The TUC recently noted that over 2500 people have joined the RMT union since the start of the strike action this Summer, further highlighting the fact that more workers across the UK are realising the importance of Trade Unions, and are being inspired by the RMT members who push back at the media narratives which demonise the working class and regularly attack unions.
During the week of the national rail strike in June, it was reported that nearly three times as many people in the UK were searching ‘join a union’ as normal, and that an “unprecedented” amount of workers are researching and considering joining a union in their workplace. At numerous RMT pickets all over the UK, members of other unions including the NEU, PCS, CWU and many others came to show solidarity, and prove that we are all in this struggle together!
Now is a crucial time for the Labour Party to support workers, and if they fail to do so they risk driving a wedge between the party and ordinary people.
In the upcoming internal Young Labour election, the Socialist Future slate of candidates takes an unwavering stance in favour of continuing Young Labour’s support for workers in struggle and strengthening the links between Young Labour and the broader labour movement. Many young people who are now old enough to vote have no memory of what a Labour government looks like, and even less can remember having fully funded, nationalised public services-so now is the time to set a real example.
Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, it was clear that the Labour Party was engaging and inspiring young people, giving hope to a new generation of activists and campaigners. Only by showing solidarity with workers taking industrial action, supporting genuine, transformative socialist policies, and creating stronger links with Trade Unions can the Labour Party get back on track to having the support of young people and workers.
Young people understand the necessity of real change – most teenagers and young adults have experienced two major recessions in the last 15 years – one of which was the largest since the 1940s. The cycle of economic crises caused by the contradictory nature of free market capitalism, combined with over a decade of austerity policy and repressed wages has moulded a generation of young people into realising that this change cannot happen without working people and Trade Unions taking an active role in shaping our politics.
This Summer is set to be one characterised by workers struggle, with an increasing number of people calling for a general strike, and Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss standing on the most anti-union and anti-worker platform since Margaret Thatcher came to power. An increasing number of unions are also balloting for strike action, as the cost-of-living crisis pushes millions into relative poverty.
The Tory Party and the billionaire class have declared war on workers, and their efforts must be met with fierce resistance from all working people and trade unions!
- Fraser McGuire is the Secretary of Derbyshire Young Labour, Vice Chair of Derbyshire Dales CLP, and is standing for East Midlands Young Labour representative on the Socialist Future slate.
- You can show your support for Fraser’s campaign on twitter here, and for the Young Labour Socialist Future slate here.