Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Fight for jobs! Solidarity, not nationalism and racism! And, while we're about it, how about not getting down into the gutter with the Daily Star?

One of trade union Unite's general secretaries (it's complicated), Derek Simpson, shows here (photo by Jess Hurd) how not to fight for jobs, and how to be sexist, nationalist and look a sad plonker all at the same time.

I cottoned onto this because a couple of friends went down to the Isle of Grain, Kent today to take part in a protest for jobs - and to argue against the use of divisive, nationalist slogans.

While they were there the Daily Star turned up with some 'British Jobs for British Workers' posters, some Star Birds and a group of 'oafs', according to my friend, masquerading as local workers. The oafs gave one of my friends, who is black, a hard time, then posed for their photo with Star Birds and posters. How bloody heroic.

Last night Barnet trades council (Barnet TUC) had its first AGM since its relaunch last year. It was a really good meeting, with guest speakers including Unite busworkers and the Campaign for Better Transport - for more on their local relevance read this (later, please).

On the issue of the fight to defend jobs, we passed the following resolution, which we think is a better response to the jobs crisis than what the idiotic Simpson is offering:

Unite and fight for jobs! Solidarity, not nationalism and racism!
The recent wildcat strikes by construction workers are a welcome fight for jobs. It is a fight that is long overdue – the leadership of the trade union movement have not done enough to defend workers from the effects of the financial and economic crisis, or to lead their members in a response to the crisis.

Construction workers are one among many groups threatened as employers use tactics of divide and rule, where workers – within the UK and across borders – are encouraged to compete against each other for jobs, by accepting lower and lower wages and conditions, or undermining union agreements.

The specific issues involved in the recent dispute at the Lindsey Oil Refinery, and at other construction sites, must be seen in the context of the wider employers’ offensive, but also in the context of what we need to defeat it: a united fightback by all sections of workers within the UK and across borders.

The slogan ‘British jobs for British workers’ and variations on it have a dangerous nationalist logic which threatens to alienate UK workers who do not necessarily identify as British, at a time when we need to build links of solidarity between groups of workers. They encourage groups like the BNP who are the bitter enemies of working class people. The slogan and variations on it militate against building unity among workers across Europe, who are fighting the same attacks and the same employing class, and sometimes the same employer.

We resolve to fight for jobs, improving pay and conditions, to fight for unity between workers in the UK and across borders, to reject nationalism and racism – they cannot help workers to fight for jobs and only serve to divide us. We also resolve to fight anti-union laws that impede solidarity.

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