- Wednesday, 23 May 2012
- Written by Steve Jones
In the May elections, workers delivered a sound hammering to the Coalition parties and made very clear what they thought of them and their policies.
Up and down the country Tory and Lib Dem councillors were booted out of office. However, as we enter the third year of this miserable government, Cameron, Clegg and the rest show no sign of relenting on their continuing attacks on public services and workers’ living standards. They have made it very clear: their job is to defend the rich and powerful – the capitalist system with its bankers and millionaires.
All the announced cuts are to be pushed through with much more to follow. Benefits are being slashed and wages frozen or cut at the same time as tax cuts for the rich are being handed out by the government. A TUC report showed that the cost of living for the poorest 10% of the population rose by 4.1% in March of this year - an effective cut in living standards of 3.6%, the sarpest such fall for over two years. For the working class there is no end in sight for this crisis.
However, this Tory-led Coalition is also out to use the crisis of capitalism as a smokescreen to push through new attacks on workers’ rights.
A report prepared for Cameron by multi-millionaire Adrain Beecroft on employment rights shows what the Tories want to implement given the chance.
Proposals include ending the 90-day consultation period on redundancies with the timescale to be cut to just 30 days or even less under certain conditions. This is being linked to the idea of having a ‘No-fault dismissal’ option in the UK whereby bosses can just get rid of ‘unproductive staff’ without them being able to have recourse to a tribunal.
Also listed are plans to cut compensation levels, remove certain discrimination laws and cut rights for workers transferred from one employer to another. For good measure the report also proposes that bosses should no longer have to check whether foreign workers being taken on are actually eligible to work here – a charter for the ruthless exploitation of illegal foreign workers at substandard pay and conditions levels.
These are the sought of things that the Tories want to foist on us. It is time to fight back. The announcement that the TUC is building for a mass protest in London on October 20th is to be welcomed. Every step should be taken to ensure that it far exceeds the size of the TUC march of last year.
However, we cannot wait for this. Action needs to be taken now. The labour and trade union movement must link up to take immediate action, including industrial, to put the maximum pressure on this government to go. A one-day general strike of all workers is long overdue and the least which can be done given the situation.
Faced with the might of the working class – workers, students, unemployed, pensioners – the Tories and their Lib Dem clones can be forced out. However, this also means building the alternative. People must have a reason to fight and vote for a Labour government.
That means building around a clear programme of socialist policies that will provide a real alternative to the Tories and their rotten system.