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Workers of all countries, UNITE! Jobs for ALL!
Issued by: CPGB-ML
Issued on: 16 May 2009
Workers of all countries, UNITE! Jobs for ALL!Goaded beyond endurance by the efforts of our masters to heap on our backs the burdens of the economic overproduction crisis, workers are serving notice on their exploiters that the ‘contagion’ of mass militancy now sweeping through Greece and France cannot for ever be kept from our shores.

In light of the mass walk-outs at oil refineries and the occupation tactics adopted by Visteon workers in Enfield and Belfast, it is clear that resistance to the crisis is entering a new stage. This is a time of great danger for the working class, and also a time of great opportunity for revolutionary advance.

Capitalism launches class war …

For bosses worried that French proletarian fashions like ‘boss-napping’ (locking up the manager until he agrees to talk) might hop over the Channel, capitalism offers two remedies. The most obvious is the big stick of state coercion.

Well publicised statements from the Met made it clear before the G20 protests took place that ‘community’ policing was off the menu. Instead, we were to witness cynical provocation, riot police on the rampage, unlawful detention (‘kettling’) and, finally, the outright murder of an innocent bystander.

Such bullying tactics are clearly aimed at intimidating anyone thinking of raising a hand against war or in defence of jobs and conditions, and have been long in the preparation.

The anti-trade union laws pushed through by the Tories and preserved and extended by Labour formed step one of the strategy. Step two, the piling up of bogus ‘anti-terror’ laws that are really designed to punish the working class when we decide to fight back against the attacks being mounted against us.

… assisted by social democracy

But this ‘big stick’ approach on its own is not enough to hold back workers. Who can forget the punishment meted out by that same Met to the miners and their supporters during the miners’ strike?

Yet it was not this that finally broke the courageous resistance of the mining communities, but the treachery of the Labour party and the TUC, who stood shoulder to shoulder with Thatcher, the Coal Board and the Met.

The most effective weapon capitalism found to use against those fighting for jobs on the back of the Lindsey dispute was not direct coercion but political subversion.

Accustomed for so long to limiting trade-union activity to the struggle to secure the best wages in the existing capitalist market conditions, it was not difficult to persuade workers to forget about the real problem – the failure of capitalism to guarantee jobs for all – and concentrate instead upon a diversionary issue: the supposed failure to ensure that the dwindling supply of jobs is distributed in a ‘fair’ way.

Add to this the idea that ‘indigenous’ workers should enjoy some prior claim over ‘foreigners’, and you do more damage to the struggle of the working class than a hundred Tactical Support Groups could achieve.

False friends

It has become a comforting orthodoxy on the ‘left’ that the racism that erupted around the walk-outs was an invention of the reactionary tabloids and the BNP, which distractions those engaged in the struggle were able effortlessly to shrug off, while sticking to the clear demand of equal pay and conditions for all.

But this sanitised version of what happened simply does not square with the countless ‘British jobs for British workers’ placards and Union Jack flags that sprouted like poisonous toadstools overnight, let alone the crowds who gathered at the barges housing the Portuguese and Italian workers at Lindsey to shout racist and threatening abuse.

Those on the ‘left’ who maintain this pretence are doing workers no favours by denying the pervasive reactionary politics which at present dog even the most spirited actions of class struggle.

What they are really protecting are not the workers who are fooled into replacing the demand for ‘jobs for all’ with the demand ‘jobs for the Brits’, but the labour aristocrats of Labour and the TUC who peddle this divisive rubbish so hard that the BNP’s additional efforts are largely superfluous.

Class collaboration

The support offered to the Birmingham march for jobs by Lord Digby ‘sack half the civil servants’ Jones shows what kind of class-collaboration politics the Unite leadership is imposing on its members.

This approach, whereby ‘we Brits’ forget our class differences and weather the storm of capitalist crisis ‘together’, is summed up by TUC chief Brendan Barber: “The union role remains to keep employers honest and make sure that they’ve thought through the money-saving options before handing their employees their P45s. In this recession, we’ve seen more firms looking at short-term working options. For example, Honda is to shut for four months to help save jobs.

So if workers at Honda meekly submit to being laid off for four months, maybe some other car maker will have to slash capacity and jobs instead of Honda, thereby preserving Honda workers and Honda capitalists alike.

By extension, the sooner ‘we Brits’ tighten our belts and line up to help British industry wipe out its competitors on the world market, the better hope we have of keeping our jobs and pushing French, German and Italian workers onto the dole queue instead!

The struggle continues

So long as we are guided by the politics of the bourgeois parties, we will be unable to take up the real task of fighting against capitalism. But by opening our eyes to the divisive and racist politics of all representatives of imperialism – Labour, Tory or BNP – we can learn to identify who are our real friends and who our real enemies.

Instead of the reactionary and divisive ‘British jobs for British workers’, we will inscribe on our banners the progressive slogans

Jobs for all!
Break the link with Labour!
Workers of all countries, unite!

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