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Crunch time for the left: a communist view of the labour movement's priorities

ANDY BAIN spotlights today’s meeting by the Communist Party of Britain that looks to build for the struggle ahead

TODAY the Communist Party of Britain holds an aggregate for members who are trade union activists, against a background of escalation of the class struggle. 

The party is growing and will use this gathering of longer-term and new members to educate, agitate and organise.  

We meet in unprecedented times and all the sessions will begin from where we are now to build the struggle ahead.

Despite being the sixth-richest nation in the world, our neoliberal government has mismanaged the crisis to the extent that we are in the top six for the Covid-19 death rate and facing a collapse of the economy.   

A million jobs have been lost since March 2020. The factors that have led to this have been repeated in the pages of the Morning Star — from the assault on manufacturing, apprenticeships and research and development in manufacturing started in the ’80s, overlayered by decades of underinvestment and privatisation in health, elderly care and emergency services. 

This runs in parallel to a hesitation to act at every stage, resulting in a mish-mash of herd immunity, partial lockdowns and stop start containment policies.

Some of the glaringly obvious measures that should have been applied were not and, as would be expected with the party of big business, these hit the working class hardest and their most vulnerable — the old, sick, poor and black and minority ethnic communities.  

The apparent incompetence and hiding of data has led to mistrust and cynicism and for some the road of conspiracies.  

Many of these are encouraged in the pages of the right-wing press as they divide people and shift the focus of blame from the government. 

All of this is exacerbated by a sustained and years-long assault on health and safety.

The good news is that there is a fightback and this can be seen in trade union challenges to employers, with some “skirmish” disputes of significance at British Gas, Rolls-Royce and Sage Care Homes. 

In others, such as the CWU campaign in Royal Mail and Morrisons workers organised by Usdaw, significant steps have been made. 

Today’s aggregate will open with a session on Unemployment Fightback and will look at how we build a mass movement from the crisis, one that wins people to the demand for a society that learns the lessons from the years of austerity and invests in a future planned for the benefit of the people not, as now, the unregulated chaos of ruling in the interests of big business and the rich. 

The Communist Party has produced a pamphlet covering exactly these themes.

The government’s Kickstart project will be examined and alternatives to their six months of employer subsidies for temporary jobs, which instead invest in real jobs and apprenticeships comes under the microscope.

The new and rapidly growing solidarity website Strikemap will be presented. This has already had successes in generating support for a growing number of trade unionists in disputes across the country. 

The social tensions created by the Tory handling of the pandemic have raised the potential for a resurgence of the far right which risks filling the political void if the trade unions don’t take a lead and push the Labour Party to follow. There will therefore be a session on anti-racist and anti-fascist organising. 

The aim of the Communist Party is to link such struggle to a perspective for the future. 

This aggregate meeting will consider our successful trade unionist rally Take the Road (August 2020) and Future of Work conference (December 2020), which attracted nearly 3,000 participants. 

Both events sought to go beyond the day-to-day and to look in detail at the employment, research, investment and training needs for a future government of the left. 

It’s work that is being developed throughout the party and is underscored by sales of our programme Britain’s Road to Socialism, which is in its fourth printing since March last year.

The meeting will discuss some very positive developments of broad left organisations in some trade unions and hear about the trade union plans for the conference season when most policy-making gatherings will be online, though with some physical meetings.  

This will be a meeting that encourages active participation, rests on the experience of members who have been in struggle and helps those who want to get more involved. 

If you are a trade union activist and want to get organised, contact us via Facebook @CPBritain and twitter @CPBritain

There is so much yet to do and so many struggles yet to be had. If we work together, success is more likely and achievements will be more sustainable. 

Email andy@andybain.org if you wish to make a last-minute registration. For more information about the Communist Party of Britain visit www.communistparty.org.uk.

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