CRITICALLY SUPPORT THE RANK AND FILE CANDIDATE IAN ALLINSON IN THE ELECTION FOR GENERAL SECRETARY OF UNITE.

 cropped-dokument-1-seite0015.jpgCritically Support the Rank and File Candidate Ian Allinson in the Election for General Secretary of UNITES in 2017!

By Joseph Adams, RCIT Britain, 09.01.2017, https://rcitbritain.wordpress.com/

 

Len McCluskey, the Genera Secretary of Unite, announced on 7th December that he is resigning as General Secretary and seeking re-election in 2017. It was also decided that the executive council would organise the Executive Council elections and the General Secretary election at the same time.

“Unite confirms the timetable for the general secretary election in 2017

06 December 2016

The Executive Council of Unite the Union has today (Tuesday 6 December) agreed that the timetable for the election of the union’s General Secretary will be brought forward to the first months of 2017. This will ensure that the ballot for Executive Council (EC) members and the ballot for General Secretary are conducted simultaneously, minimizing the enormous costs caused to the union by the legal requirement to conduct the ballot by post and not by modern voting methods, thereby saving the union in the region of £1 million. Following a period of candidate nominations, the ballot for both elections will commence on 27 March 2017, concluding on 28 April 2017. General Secretary Len McCluskey immediately tendered his resignation to the Unite EC, announcing his intention to stand as a candidate. The EC also agreed that Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail, should become acting General Secretary for the election period. Len McCluskey said: “I intend to be a candidate in the upcoming general secretary election and to submit my record to the vote of Unite members. “Unite’s Executive Council has agreed that my resignation will take effect from 28 April, when the elections for general secretary and the Executive Council itself end.  I will remain general secretary until then – after that it is in the hands of the membership.” [1]

The election which is going to be brought forward will mean that if McCluskey is elected he will be in his 70’s when his term of office ends. McCluskey is part of the labour bureaucracy and during his term of office he has presided over austerity attacks both by the Cameron and May governments.

 

Treacherous McCluskey Leadership

 

His response at every turn has been to betray dispute after dispute and at all costs prevent strike action. The Grangemouth Oil Refinery dispute is an example of where the Unite Leadership capitulated to the INEOS management and agreed to the sacking of the convenor and agreed a no strike deal.

“This was a rout. One of the best organised workplaces in the country, Grangemouth, suffered one of the worst defeats of the trade union movement in years. Barely a shot was fired. The union was stunned; this wasn’t the dispute they thought it was. Lured into a limited battle over the witch-hunting of a union organiser, the real stakes were quickly revealed when the boss locked workers out of the plant and threatened to close it down. The union’s retreat was humiliating. They conceded everything: pay freezes, an end to final salary pensions, the end of full-time union convenors on site, and no strikes for three years. Employers across the country will look enviously on what Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire boss of INEOS, has achieved. Why did they lose so badly? After all, this was not the first time that Ratcliffe had gone after the final-salary pension’s scheme. He was comprehensively defeated in 2008. His battle with tanker drivers in March this year met with no greater success.” However, it seems that in March Ratcliffe began planning for a new confrontation, and stockpiling oil reserves to see out any strike. The basis for an offensive was provided by the Falkirk controversy in which Unite officials were supposedly involved in rigging Labour’s selection procedures. It was a candyfloss controversy: mouth-watering, but fuzzy and insubstantial. However, the Labour leadership used it to launch a wide-ranging attack on the union link, forcing the Unite leadership onto the back foot”. [2]

In December 2016 the Tata steel management presented a deal to the unions at Port Talbot. Both the Unite leadership under McCluskey and Community under Roy Richaus are recommending acceptance although it means that the final salary scheme will go and there will not be a satisfactory Pension scheme in place. The workers are going to be balloted on whether they will accept the deal or not. It is just another example of McCluskey’s leadership. All that has been organised is meetings with the government and one march in Port Talbot when Tata threatened to close all of its plants.

“A deal to safeguard production at Britain’s biggest steelworks in Port Talbot has been secured with Tata Steel, according to trade unions, including commitments on jobs and £1bn of investment in its wider UK business over the next decade. As part of the rescue package Tata is proposing to the close the £15bn British Steel pension scheme, which has become a serious financial burden on the company. In return, the Indian group has committed to keep Port Talbot’s twin blast furnaces running for a minimum of five years and to reinvest in the older of the two. It has also promised to try to avoid any compulsory redundancies over a five-year period. Britain’s steel industry was thrown into uncertainty when Tata Steel announced it wanted to sell its troubled business there in spring. Global oversupply, a wave of cheap imports from countries such as China and a plunge in prices for the metal triggered a crisis last autumn, leading to plant closures and thousands of job losses. The Community, Unite and GMB unions said that they will ballot their members on the proposal in the new year”. [3].

 

Reactionary Role of the Labour Bureaucracy

 

The RCIT in Britain in its no 11 issue of LIBERATION pointed out the reactionary role of the labour bureaucracy in Britain:

“The labour bureaucracy of UNITE; the biggest trade union with over 1.4 million members is a crucial agent for the ruling class in the workers movement. The labour bureaucracy constitutes the most reactionary and conservative element in the working class today. It is composed of sell-serving careerists whose role is to police the working class and make it safe for capitalism in order to exploit the most vulnerable and exploited sections in society”. [4]

Further on we explained why it is important to patiently explain the united front tactic to workers and show that it is only through the rank file organisation that they can challenge the power of the bureaucracy and liberate it from the control of the bureaucracy and ensure proper workers democracy not the sham democracy which means only the General Secretary and the executive council are up for re-election. All other positions are appointed.

Therefore it is crucial that revolutionaries help the workers vanguard to organize a struggle against the labour bureaucracy. In our “Theses on the Trade Unions” we explained:

Revolutionaries struggle for the expulsion of the labor bureaucracy and its agents from the ranks of the workers’ movement. These forces are the biggest obstacle for the working class struggle in the ranks of the workers’ movement. Naturally, this is a long-term task involves the application of the united front tactic (calls to the rank and file, but also the reformist leaders for joint actions, etc.). But communists should state clearly that the trade unions can only become an authentic instrument of the working class if they are liberated from the bureaucracy and brought under workers control. (…)

[W]e derive the following set of strategies for revolutionary communists:

  1. i) Building a rank-and-file movement in opposition to the bureaucracy, one which can fight both for more democratic rights and a militant union policy, and which has the goal of liberating the union from the bureaucracy.
  2. ii) Fighting to change the composition of the unions. This involves driving back the influence of the ‘aristocratic type’ of the upper layer and transforming the unions into an instrument dominated by the ‘mass type’ of the working class, which means the lower and middle strata – i.e. the huge majority – of the proletariat. “The unionization of the lower strata of the working class (especially the migrants, women, precarious workers, etc.) is an indispensable task. These layers must not, therefore, play the role of the infantry in the union, but should play a central role and should also proportionally be represented in the trade union bodies according to their share among the employees.

iii) Striving to utilize every class struggle to build action committees which organize the militant workers (including the unorganized workers) independent of the bureaucracy. “In every battle and in preparation for this the Bolsheviks-Communists are therefore keen to establish rank and file committees outside the bureaucratic control. They will often bring together the most active and most militant elements in Action Committees.” [5]

 

Support for Rank and File Candidates

 

Most of the centrist organizations in Britain have nothing to say on this election in Unite. Most of them supported McCluskey in the last election for General Secretary, with the principled exception of the Socialist Workers Party who to their credit supported Jerry Hicks, the rank and file candidate.

If a rank and file candidate decides to stand we would support them as part of our united front tactic.

We therefore propose the following demands.

* Vote for IAN ALLINSON, the rank and file candidate for the position of General Secretary of Unite. Establish rank and file committees whose aim should be to remove and expel the bureaucracy and elect genuine rank and file militants in positions of leadership like the forthcoming election for the General Secretary in Unite.

* For an indefinite general strike to bring down this government. Build action committees independent of the bureaucracy. Elect workers defense guards to protect workers who go on strike.

* For a genuine communist fraction. Support the RCIT Britain in building a revolutionary party as part of a new World Party of Socialist Revolution!

 

Footnotes

1) http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/unite-confirms-the-timetable-for-the-general-secretary-election-in-2017/

2) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/09/ineos-unite-union-grangemouth-oil-refinery

3) http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/deal-to-safeguard-port-talbot-steelworks-agreed-say-unions/ar-AAlgKFR?OCID=ansmsnnews11

4) https://rcit.wordpress.com/liberationno11

5) RCIT-Theses on Revolutionary Trade Union Policy, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-trade-union/

 

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About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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