Posts Tagged ‘Carillion/Great Western hospital’

We need to strengthen, not break, the union link

26/11/2012, 02:05:03 PM

by Ian Stewart

On the twentieth of November Mark Ferguson over at Labour List published a good article in support of the 150 workers on strike in Swindon in the Carillion/Great Western hospital dispute. It was posted on the same day that saw these workers and their elected GMB union representatives demonstrating and lobbying in London. It was a fine piece, arguing the case of a group of mainly women, mainly Goan employees who have been subjected to bullying, blacklisting and attempts to buy them off over a period of time going back to at least 2007.

The trouble was that the strike is now in its eleventh month. So where were the posts on Labour List, Left Foot Forward, Labour Uncut or any other mainstream site over the past year? Those of us who write and contribute to left wing political blogs can be accused of many things – hypocrisy, hair-splitting, hyperbole – but one thing which many of us need to own up to is all too often ignoring the trades union struggle, that is until conference time.

Aah yes, conference season, when we can all rely the usual suspects to explain to us lesser mortals exactly why unions are a bad thing, and being linked to them will lose us the next election. I am sure that the posts are already written for 2013, with “insert union leaders’ name here” blank – hey, it never gets old does it?

Only it does, it gets very, very old very, very quickly, especially if we are trying to broaden and strengthen our support across the country. Especially as we are trying to turn away from doing things in the old stale ways. For example, consider Arnie Graf and his report – you know the one that was so good, so visionary that I am not allowed to see it. Now one of his main ideas is that we as party members need to be much more firmly rooted within our communities, and to be fostering leaders, rather than sheep for central office to order about. All well and good, but amongst the church groups and community associations, can we please consider those mass membership organisations that foster leadership and self-confidence amongst working class people? If you have forgotten what they are called the name is TRADES UNIONS.


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