The announcement that the Government is to outlaw paycuts by private companies when they win public service contracts was greeted with wild enthusiasm by union leaders. John Edmunds cooed, .this agreement shows what can be achieved for British workers when trade unions work together.. No doubt the deal will be held up by union leaders as one of the reasons why the union movement should carry on bailing out the Labour Party in the run up to the next election.
Behind all the spin ,the deal is hardly earth shattering. For a start, it only covers local authority employers, it does not cover the National Health Service or Education - the two sectors clearly ear-marked by Labour for privatisation. Also, all it will do is ensure that those employed after a service is transferred will get the same pay and conditions as those workers transferred from the public sector. This will not stop companies eroding the pay and conditions of all workers in the long term.
The truth is that the deal represents a massive climb-down by union leaders, who had started by opposing Labour.s privatisation plans outright. In return for the deal, they have now accepted further privatisation. As “lefty” Unison leader Dave Prentice said; “we have worked closely with Labour to ensure that private companies will be prevented from wining contracts by cutting the pay of staff”. What happened to outright union opposition to any further privatisation?
Here is yet another demonstration of the failure of today.s unions. Instead of putting themselves at the head of a popular campaign against Labour.s privatisation plans, they have settled for this crummy deal, which will do little to ensure decent pay and conditions for workers. Those private companies who take over the running of Foundation hospitals and schools will be allowed to set their own pay and conditions for workers. In short, Governments and union leaders are not to be trusted. Clearly, the end to poverty pay and slavery conditions will only come about through workplace organisation and action. The only people we can trust is ourselves and our fellow workers.
In the war frenzy, and anxious to give the Labour troops some reason for staying in the party, the Government has announced that the minimum wage will rise to a massive £4.50 in October. The fact that this legalised wage slavery was portrayed as .good. news tells us much about effectiveness of the Labour government in bringing about a more equal Britain. There is bags of proof if proof were needed that Government.s action against poverty is merely pretence.
In fact, since 1997, the gap between rich and poor accelerated faster than under the Tories. Under Labour, there are now some 1.8 million people earning less than £4.50 an hour. Even more telling is the fact that 1.5 million of these are women - so much for Labour.s proud boasts about empowering women. No doubt many people.s lives will be dramatically enhanced by promises of a few pence extra handed down to them by Labour.