Elections are now starting in two of the countries major unions, PCS the largest civil service union and Unison, the UK's biggest union. In both organisations the far-left are undertaking efforts to either retain control, as in PCS or trying to control as in Unison, which thus far has kept the "comrades" out.
All this comes at a time when the big project for the Socialist Party (and the SWP if anyone still listens to them)is to push for a "24 hour general strike".
This weeks edition of the (somewhat dull) newspaper The Socialist contains a rather lengthy article by Rob Williams making the call to get the TUC to "name the day". Additionally members of the TUC General Council will have to face a phalanx of screaming trotskyists as they attend their meeting next week.
The author ties in the recent death of Margaret Thatcher to preface his clarion call on behalf of the Socialist Party and the "National Shop Stewards Movement" (another front organisation run by guess who) to argue for the "general strike" as a "key to fighting austerity". We are reminded of the POA motion to TUC Conference for such a strike (despite most trade unionists trying to forget such nonsense), claiming (absurdly) that it could "mobilise the 6 million strong trade unions". How exiting comrade, except it won't.
The only union currently involved in any action is the PCS and indeed who are currently supposed to be in the middle of a "week of action" in the Home Office, except nobody has noticed. Why? Because the death of Thatcher has totally dominated the news, up to and including the funeral today. Did none of the PCS leaders consider a delay? Probably not since they buggered up the last time, so went ahead regardless it would seem.
The real reason for the strikes continuance is of course the elections and the Democracy Alliance proudly proclaims that it is the competent strike organising force that wins victories in its' literature. Except they don't. Its all total waffle.
PCS in particular has never been weaker and more isolated after a decade of control by the false messiah Mark Serwotka.
In a few weeks time, facilities for trade unionists will all but disappear in the civil service thanks to Serwotka and the Socialist Party handing the Tories an excuse on a plate with their threatened strike (on a strike vote supported by just 11% of the members in UKBA) the day before the Olympics began. The fury of other unions still rings after that balls-up.
It doesn't stop the comrades hi-jacking the PCS, RMT and Unite for their cause. They want a political strike at all costs, even though it's against the law (as it stands). Bob Crows union even hired a couple of lawyers to write their case.
Williams argues that "the anti-trade union laws present a certain obstacle" and admits "they have done so in other European countries". Trying to use Greece, a country falling apart in part of it's own making, he says the ability of Government and employers to use these laws is not a given.
Without even considering what our Government would do, the Socialist Party argue that if the TUC call the strike and anyone is victimised, another general strike could push such laws aside. Wishful thinking I would say. Thousands of workers, particularly in the civil service could lose their jobs if it goes "pear-shaped" and he quietly forgets (as the comrades always do), that the unions lost the last general strike in this country which is the actual reason we've never had the like again.
Fortunately the majority of unions will not go down this road and more to the point neither will the members. For all their bluster the Socialist Party is unable to admit, even to itself that it cannot even get half the members out in the current PCS dispute, let alone mobilise the "6 Million".
The only reason for this campaign and the dispute in the PCS is so that the Socialist Party can advance its' own narrow interests, even more so at a time when with the demise of the SWP their is a clear gap on the left for another group to assert its hegemony.
This campaign is a distraction from what is really needed, which is planning the revival of the unions over the long term, by reforging links not just with the Labour Party (which the Socialist Party do their best to undermine), but their members real interests and facing up to the reality on the ground.
There is no groundswell (in this country) for any kind of revolt and despite the ill thought out formulations the trotskyists of the SP & SWP or fools like Zita Holbourne (PCS NEC) who called the riots "an uprising" rather than for what they really were, which was sheer criminal opportunism for looting.
The problem remains that these people make much noise and alienate large numbers of union members so that turnouts at election time is frankly abysmal (around 10% in PCS) which allows them to retain influence well beyond their means.
Unison members would be wise to avoid the Socialist Party and their acolytes. Getting rid is far from easy when they get entrenched as they are in PCS.
The time has come for a reshaping of the unions with new thinking for the 21st Century.
If you are in PCS there is an alternative to the current incumbents.
Vote for the 4themembers candidates.
Go to: http://www.4themembers.org.uk/ for more information.
UPCOMING at Howie's Corner:
Starting on Sunday, full coverage of the PCS elections on this blog with a number of guest posts from activists in PCS.