Project fear and Brexit: How should trade unions should respond?

By Kevin Henry

The trade union movement, which claims 800,000 members north and south have a responsibility to oppose any aspect of a Brexit deal which is not in the interests of their members. For example, the Central Bank has warned of potential of 20,000 job losses in the South.

In the North, various figures point toward a serious recession.  Big business is preparing to use a Tory Brexit to implement “shock and awe” style attacks on workers’ rights, particularly on sectors such as Agri-business that are reliant on exports to Britain.

The nature of the EU

Trade unionists should have no trust in any capitalist politicians at the negotiating table, whether from the North, South, Britain or the EU. Unfortunately, the approach of many trade union leaders is to perpetuate the myth that important workers’ rights were handed down by a benevolent EU.  This turns reality on its head.

The European Union has been central to waging a war on workers, particularly given its role in Troika austerity programmes. The truth is that workers fought for these rights. For example, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford workers’ strike in Dagenham, which was central to forcing the then British government to concede equal pay.

In Britain, some trade union leaders have attempted to align the TUC with the idea of a “peoples’ vote”.  A principled approach from the trade unions would instead be to demand and organise mass mobilisation for a general election – in order to take down the Tories and elect a Corbyn led-government.

Make the bosses pay

In Ireland, trade unions should now put the bosses on warning that they will resist attacks on their members.  A starting point would be to organise a conference of workers’ representatives from Britain and Ireland to discuss what coordinated action can be taken and built for against attacks on pay and conditions or shedding of jobs flowing from Brexit. If someone has to take a hit- it, should be the profits of the capitalists.

The movement must also be clear in taking up the other central issues linked with Brexit. That means a clear stand of defending immigrants. Trade unions as force that unites workers in Northern Ireland has a role to play in resisting any hardening of the border or any border on the Irish Sea. It also has a key role to play in opposing those political forces who will use Brexit in order to push their sectarian agenda.

 

 

 

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Review: Mistaken Identity – Race and Class in the Age of Trump

Next Article

Maurice McCabe and the rot inside the state

Related Posts
Read More

The movement from below – working class self-organisation

In the last six years, austerity was imposed without the same level of protest as took place in other countries. Working class people were reeling from the shock of the recession and, of course, given no lead by the union leadership. Now, the establishment's claims of economic recovery have given more confidence to people to challenge austerity, crystallising around the hated water charges.
Read More

Peter Hadden 1950 – 2010

On the first anniversary of the death of Comrade Peter Hadden we republish an article he wrote in 2008 on the 20th anniversary of the killing of three IRA volunteers in Gibraltar and the subsequent events. This article is an important Marxist analysis of these events, but more than that it is a critique of the futility of IRA's campaign of individual terror, the role of British imperialism and a confirmation that the national question in Ireland can only be resolved through the building of a mass movement for socialism based on working class unity.