The government is on the ropes; who will knock it out? & The collective force of the working class is stronger than any law

 The government is on the ropes; who will knock it out?

Brexit - this government's main reason to exist – and privatisation, the watchword for "Conservatism" since the days of Thatcher, were both exposed this week as a great big shower. In fact one could say that the brown stuff is really hitting the fan!

    Royal Mail, so “happily” floated on the stock exchange in 2013 - with great dividends for big shareholders and huge job losses and cuts in conditions for workers - is about to be investigated by Ofcom for missing its letter delivery targets under its Universal Service Obligation for 3 years running. It de-prioritised letters, in order to prioritise more profitable parcels.  We're told this “surprising”(!) exposure of RM’s dereliction of duty was thanks to ”great British democracy"...  a parliamentary select committee which called the CEO and his deputies in for questioning.

    And so?  Will Royal Mail be taken back into public hands and all the lost jobs restored? Because that's the only way post could be delivered properly - and at a human pace, instead of the current frantic dash, often by temps on a minimum wage, since so many regular posties have been sacked! But no.  Ofcom will impose a fine.  CEO Simon Thompson, former NHS "test, track and trace" boss, will be shown the door because of his failure to track and trace our letters.  Back to square one.

    Then there's the railways. Using the excuse of Covid and now strikes, Transport Secretary Harper is covering up rail privatisation's failure.  The DfT can't keep subsidising the profits of private train operators, which it's done to the tune of multiple billions from day 1 of this lethal fiasco. So Harper's new model "Great British Railways” is nothing but a thinly-veiled renationalisation, even though he vigorously protests otherwise.

    And Brexit?  Stellantis, the giant car company, says the "rules of origin" (45% of the value of an electric vehicle must come from the UK or EU from 2024 or a 10% tariff is imposed) mean that it won't be profitable to make electric Vauxhall vans at Ellesmere Port.  The one possible "UK" source of batteries, so-called "British Volt” failed before it even launched.

    So Stellantis wants exemption from the rules till 2027.  But then what?  Ford already decided to exit and BMW's electric Minis will be mostly made in China instead of Oxford.

    To add to Sunak's problems, former frontbench MPs have been attending a "National Conservatism” conference of the loony right, criticising his policies and further discrediting the party - if that were possible!

    All this might be good news for the working class.  But pale blue Labour is waiting in the wings to take over.  So it will be more of the same, under a different name, unless the whole bipartisan system, lock, stock and capitalist barrel is chucked out.  That's why striking alone isn't enough. We need a revolution.


 The collective force of the working class is stronger than any law

The final vote on the "Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill" - as amended - is due to take place on Monday in the House of Commons.  This Bill is aimed at further limiting the right to strike.

    As the saying goes, however, the law is an ass.  It so happens that there never has been a legal "right to strike", as such.  This right exists only indirectly.  A boss may not sack a worker for going on (official) strike within 12 weeks of that action.  Strike ballot papers have to say so.  On them, unions inform workers that while striking is a breach of their employment contract, they are protected from dismissal.  All this is obviously designed to instill doubt in our minds and discourage strikes. As for the very grudging "protection" the law provides, it isn't even observed by the bosses: during the strikes at Royal Mail, as many as 400 postal workers were suspended, pending the sack!

    No, with this Bill, the government is just playing to its gallery, once more.  lt stipulates that "vital" sectors: health, fire and rescue, education, transport, "decommissioning of nuclear installations/radioactive waste and spent fuel handling" and border security, must operate a "minimum service" during strikes.  As if border officials and train drivers are in the same category as NHS staff and firefighters!  These latter already provide emergency cover whenever they go on strike!  So this is anti-worker politicking, pure and simple. 

    The House of Lords has now amended the Bill so that strikers who refuse "work notices“ to force them into work, won't lose their immunity from being sacked.  It also took out a clause holding unions responsible for workers‘ compliance to these notices.  lf MPs reject the amendments, the Bill will go back to the Lords, and to and fro, until both Houses agree to the wording...

    But whatever the outcome, the fact is that unions are already shackled by unnumerable restrictive laws.  And the only effective way to challenge their legitimacy is to break them.  lt's high time the full collective force of the working class went into action to do just that.