The weekend’s special TUC marks a step forward for the labour movement which can be a platform for mass campaigns against anti-union laws and austerity, the Communist Party declared on Monday night.
Ben Chacko told the party’s political committee that commitments not to tell members to comply with work notices amounted to direct defiance of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act, and welcomed the pledge of an emergency demonstration whenever a union or union member is first sanctioned or disciplined under the repressive law.
Campaigns must be built around the country to wrest commitments never to issue a work notice — a provision of the new law which mandates named individuals to break strikes — from all relevant employers, Mr Chacko urged, arguing trades councils could take the lead in identifying relevant employers and co-ordinating campaigns.
And he backed calls at the congress for a campaign for maximum, not minimum services — one which demands proper restorative funding for essential services including education, health and transport.
Such a campaign could help to counter Labour support for continuing Tory austerity by putting pressure on candidates at local level to sign up to union demands.
But ultimately, workplace strength would determine whether workers can effectively defy the new law, meaning the development of an equivalent to the national shop stewards’ movement of the 1970s — a task which now as then would depend on work by the most militant trade unionists including Communist Party members.
The political committee also backed continued mobilisation for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and agreed to organise for a strong turnout at the TUC’s planned Cheltenham demonstration in commemoration of the fight for trade union rights at GCHQ on January 27.