Rebuilding Our Unions On Solid Foundations: Chapter 2
In the last chapter the degenerate bureaucratic decline of our unions was discussed. It examined the terminal nature of that decline as a result of the 'union's, being, 'sold', as an industrial insurance society.
It reiterated the calls to democratize our unions which will inevitably mean devolving power and resources to a workplace and branch level.
It went a bit deeper though, pointing out that miss-selling the union as some sort of an industrial insurance society maintained a dependency culture. A culture that ensures our unions will fade away and die.
The vital things that are needed, like self-sacrificing shop stewards, do not emerge from a dependency culture.
It introduced the reality that only a massive membership increase, accompanied by a rebirth of the shop stewards movement can save our unions from oblivion.
Only by recruiting everyone in the workplace into the union, and for those workers to elect a shop steward, can we have any hope of repairing the damage that has been done by the right wing bureaucrats and their hangers on.
If things carry on as they are now, in the end it will become impossible to recruit on the basis of selling an increasingly dodgy industrial insurance society. Potential members who have heard about the reality, and the poor levels of service, simply will not be interested in joining in the first place.
Never mind standing for election to a shop steward's position.
To become a shop steward and to do the job properly requires backbone, hard work and self sacrifice.
Employers will look to bully and/or corrupt stewards to ensure that the workforce remains ignorant of what is going on around them and in the industry they are working in. An obedient and subservient workforce is the preferred option for most bullying employers.
That is part of the role of an effective shop steward. To familiarise themselves with what is going on in the workplace and the industry and to pass that information on to the members who elected them.
It is also part of a genuine stewards role to make themselves aware of the rules and regulations governing the workplace. Especially the grievance and disciplinary procedures.
A strong and confident workforce with elected shop stewards is the last thing that the employers and the establishment wants.
It is the first step to recovery for our unions along the only path that offers the old unions a chance of survival.
There will be those, part of the current union apparatus, who will be deeply offended by the contents of this document. However there is no point what so ever in dwelling on individual agendas when generalised point's are being made in relation to a subject of such magnitude.
It is not an exaggeration to point out that success or failure of the whole anti austerity movement, and whether it survives post-Corbyn, is dependent on a mass membership becoming a mass movement.
A mass movement with workers getting involved and taking back control of their own unions it is an essential starting point. Without this the anti austerity social movement will not develop into a socialist movement and all that has been gained in the last few years will be lost.
However just for the record it is important to acknowledge that there are exceptions to the rule There can be no doubt that there are genuine left wing officials out there who are doing the best for the members and are earning the wages that are paid by the members subs.
Only the paid official, just like anyone else in any sphere of life, knows if they are doing their best.
Those providing a competent service and doing their best, must know that the observations being made in this document are true and that there is no criticism of those comrades at all.
it is even sad to see the pathetic contortions of totally incompetent right wing officers, usually friends and family members of senior union officers, as they scam their way through working life, playing both ends against the middle and using every trick in the confidence tricksters book in pursuit of work avoidence.
The sadness soon evaporates though when the reality of the situation hits home.
Decent working class people conned into joining the union on the ridiculous illusion that they are joining an industrial insurance society, only to be let down when they actually need an expert in the world of work.
The point being made is that those genuinely doing their best are not the focus of this critique.
In fact the point has to be made that this issue is not about this, that or the other individual. The issue is far more important than any individual.
It is about the fact that an overpaid unaccountable right wing bureaucracy is parasitically sucking the life blood from our unions.
It is laying bare the fact that the idiotic individualistic industrial insurance society approach is preventing the rebirth and revitalisation of our unions.
It is about charting a way forward that will see our unions rebuilt on firm foundations.
It is about putting flesh on the bones of slogans like democratize the unions and devolve power to a workplace and branch level.