Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain

Turn the Unions into Fighting Class Organisations

No Class Collaboration with the Bosses

Why is this slogan put first? It is because class collaboration is the general outlook of social democracy – of Labour Party politics. Social democracy claims that a “promised land” can be brought about only if the capitalists and the working class are “reasonable”, if only we all “work together in the national interests”. With such slogans they paper over the class nature of the system. They cover up the inevitability of class conflict. The capitalist system is a degenerate system – a system of economic booms and slumps that crashes through crises, destroying industry and social services and throwing millions out of work. The social democrats claim that they stand for improving the lot of the working class, but they will fight tooth and nail against any challenge to the system itself. Defence of capitalism lies beneath their every action.

This basic outlook of the social democrats inevitably shows itself in the activities of the Labour Party in the Trade Unions. It was Trade Union leaders, led by Jack Jones, who hatched up the social contract. They got together with the Labour Government and the bosses to scheme the contract, to scheme how to shift the burden of the capitalist crisis onto the backs of the working class. When workers fought back they stabbed them in the back. In 1977 workers anger was rising so the opportunist misleaders at the Trade Union Congress talked a lot about how there would be “no phase 3”. But they continued to support the “12 month rule”. They “militantly” declared that they were completely opposed to a 10% limit, but in practice they have completely supported it. In the public services the opportunist traitors signed 10% agreements over the heads of the workers. Then the firemen went on strike, the TUC refused to support them, and sold them out. At a Liverpool fire station a slogan on a placard summed it up: T.U.C. Traitors Under Cover. The same opportunist “say one thing, do the opposite” farce is happening again in 1978. Now they say “No phase 4”, which is an open admission that there was a secret phase 3, even though they said there wasn't. Basnett of the General and Municipal Workers Union has even said that the Social Contract is finished, but he proposes an “Economic Contract” instead – a new label on the same old product!

When a struggle does break out into open conflict the opportunists rush in to put it to “arbitration”. Bodies like the Arbitration, Conciliation, Advisory Service (ACAS) are brought in as so-called “independent” arbitrators. What is “independent” about them? They are composed of capitalist civil servants, and Trade Union sell-out leaders. They are just negotiating bodies for the capitalists dressed up as something else. In 1972 an “independent” enquiry was held into the miners strike. Lord Justice Wilberforce, who headed it, said later in an interview in the Sunday Times: “we looked into the whites of their eyes and decided how little we could settle for.”

The top Union leaders are the worst examples of such collaboration, but down at the plant level local opportunists call for arbitration and oppose the mass independent struggle of the shop floor. They preach that there is no basic conflict of interests between the bosses and the workers, between the capitalist system and the interests of the working class. When the bosses propose redundancies it is not at all unusual to find shop stewards merely demanding discussion on HOW MANY should go down the road, or demanding more redundancy money, instead of leading an active struggle against all loss of jobs.

The Bullock report was an expression of the Labour Government’s over-all plans for class collaboration in the bosses interests. This report proposed that work directors should be put on the boards of big firms. Many opportunist Union misleaders enthusiastically support this report, which is nothing but a proposal to involve workers in the planning of their own exploitation. It is a proposal purely and simply to damp down class struggle. The opportunism of some union misleaders takes a more “left” form. They oppose worker directors in private industry but when it comes to nationalised industries they enthusiastically support it. But nationalised industry is nothing but state monopoly capitalism – Engels called it the collective ownership of the ruling class. So long as there is a bosses state, state control is bosses control. Workers at British Leyland in Speke have only just been sent down the road. In the 10 years from 1964 to 1974 there were 260,000 jobs lost in the mines, 40,000 in electricity, 20,000 in gas and 30,000 in steel. Workers in these industries face the same conditions and struggles at work as those in “private” industries. What is class collaboration in “private” industry is class collaboration in nationalised industries too. This class collaboration with a “left” face is the hall-mark of the so-called “Communist” Party of Great Britain.