“Working class people are once again now looking to the trade union movement to defend them” – John McDonnell


“Whilst workers are expected to accept pay cuts, Chief Executives and company directors continue to take home exorbitant salaries and profits are used to generate massive pay outs for shareholders.”

By Labour Hub

The Trade Union Coordinating Group, which brings together a range of largely non-affiliated unions including the RMT, NEU, PCS and many more, have just launched a new pamphlet Fair Pay Now! Let’s Strike Back Together. Read the pamphlet’s Foreword by former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP below:

Over recent months union after union have balloted their members on industrial action over issues that are critically important to working people from pay to pensions and working conditions.

The response from most trade union members has been firm support for action to confront these issues.

After 12 years of pay freezes and pay cuts, attacks on pensions and the spreading imposition of insecure work, people really do believe that enough is enough.

What has pushed many people over the edge is that whilst inflation has let rip, employers are trying to impose pay deals that don’t match inflation and are, in reality, pay cuts.

Whilst workers are expected to accept pay cuts, Chief Executives and company directors continue to take home exorbitant salaries and profits are used to generate massive pay outs for shareholders.

Alongside this, the government is threatening another round of austerity on a scale potentially matching and surpassing the austerity programme of 2010.

We now face the prospect of tens of thousands of public sector job losses and cuts in funding to the already hard pressed schools, councils, health service and the government departments we rely upon to support our communities.

Conservative government ministers know that people are not willing to stand by and take this treatment anymore and that people are increasingly willing to push back, especially as trade unionists campaigning and by taking strike action.

That’s why the government is threatening to introduce legislation to undermine the right to strike.

The ability of a worker to withdraw their labour is a fundamental human right and must be protected.

Across the trade union movement consensus is building to oppose this extreme attack on our civil liberties. 

Unions have recognised that it is critically important that they work together not only in the face of these attacks on wages and terms of employment but also on this threat to basic employment rights.

Coordinated action by a number of unions is emerging as a powerful strategy to strengthen individual union action and press forward common demands.

The traditional trade union slogan “Unity is Strength” is being demonstrated in practice and in dispute after dispute victories are being won by workers taking action and standing firm.

The latest wave of union activity is taking the trade union movement beyond securing immediate victories and onto mobilising whole communities in campaigning for change in our society.

Trade unions are posing the question: how is it in the fifth richest country in the world we have over 14 million people living in poverty, 5 million children in poverty with over two thirds of these children living in households where someone is in work?

In recent independent reports from the United Nations, its investigators have identified 2 million people living in destitution, that is, without the basics to sustain a bare minimum of existence.

Another recent report published by the University of Glasgow confirmed that there were over 330,000 excess deaths in the UK as a result of austerity.

The reports from many of our teachers that their pupils are coming to school hungry have been by recent studies identifying 2 million children hungry in our country.

Trade unions are challenging the economic ideas that have dominated government thinking for decades and that have produced this appalling state of affairs.

These ideas, labelled neoliberalism or trickle-down economics, have proved to be a disastrous failed experiment.

The arguments from neoliberal governments like our own that if you cut the taxes of the corporations and the rich somehow wealth will trickle down to the rest of society have never worked.

Part of this economic illiteracy has been the undermining of trade union rights to create a so-called flexible labour market, the deregulation of our banks and the privatisation of our public services.

All have contributed to creating a grotesquely unequal society of low pay and exploitative insecure work whilst the City of London became a casino and our public services have been used to line the pockets of the privatisers.

Trade unions have taken up the challenge to show that there is an alternative and that we can create a society that eliminates poverty, provides decent wages, pensions and working conditions and the high quality public services we need.

It’s a society based upon a fair distribution of the wealth workers create secured by the exercise of trade union rights, where our public services are paid for by a fair tax system and our economy is managed to respond to people’s needs rather than obscene profiteering.

In addition to industrial campaigns, trade unions are increasingly allying themselves to the multitude of community campaigns from housing, race, disabilities, discrimination against women and misogyny, to the climate emergency. 

Working class people are once again now looking to the trade union movement to defend them and to lead the way to a new and better future.

Featured image: John McDonnell speaking to fast food workers holding a strike meeting at London’s Leicester Square on Thursday 4th October 2018. Photo credit: Garry Knight under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

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