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Thursday 14 September 2006

unity Communist Party TUC daily

Go! ess than seven seconds! After three terms in office Labour’s longest s e rving prime minister a p p e a red before the parliament of the workimg class to be greeted with boos, a walkout by angry delgates and a perf u n c t o ry round of applause lasting less than seven seconds. Blair’s strategy seems to consist of relaxed smiles and cosy banter with Bendan Barber – whose chat show

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technique made Richard and Judy look like a Jere m y Paxman on testosterone supplements – and plain provocation. The much vaunted question and answer session saw Blair t reat union leaders anxious to get answers to questions which trouble millions of members with an indiff e rence that betrayed his utter contempt for org a n i s e d labour. Not one got a straight answer. continued on page 3

Prison


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unity TUC Communist Party daily Thursday 14 September

TUC democracy

Fight for the Women’s Charter

The equalities agenda Anita Halpin Over the years Unity! has brought you regular re p o rts of consultations on the TUC’s stru c t u res and its democracy, because we believe that a robust democracy is an essential element of trade unionism. A constitution without safeguards on democratic accountabilty can be just as much an obstacle to pro g ress than weak policy motions. But, to the equalities agenda. It is crucial to maintain the momentum; there are major challenges ahead, which have been debated this week – not least, getting as much as possible from the Women and Work Commission’s recommendations and making sure that the new Commission of Equality Human Rights (CEHR) delivers equally for all strands. The TUC’s equality committees and conferences are key players in the equality arena. They are cert a i n l y valued by the TUC, but are they fully trusted? Why this quesion? Because, yet again a proposition supported by each of the four TUC equality conferences is being opposed. Motion 82 asks for the re s e rved equality seats on the general council to be elected directly by the relevant equality conferences rather than here at congress. By the way, there ’s hardly ever an election for these re s e rv e d seats – only one cmtest this year – which might be an indication of prior agreement reached somewhere other than at congre s s ! So, what is so wrong with, for instance, the ‘parliament of trade union women’ (the TUC women’s conference) electing its own re p resentatives, surely the best means of ensuring accountability is if the electorate and the constituency are one and the same? This year the motion comes from the LGBT conference; last year it came from the black worker’s conference. How much longer will it be until the general council (and congress) realise that the TUC’s equality conferences actually mean what they say! The other element in motion 82 is the call for two (rather than one) motion from the equality confere n c e s . Union mergers mean fewer motions and there f o re significantly lessens the likelihood that there will be dedicated equality motions. So, the two motions will e n s u re that the equalities agenda is on the TUC agenda. Anita Halpin is a member of the TUC general council and chairs the Communist Party

Communist University of Britain Friday to Sunday 3-5 November 2006 at Ruskin House Croydon Three days of politics and culture with marxists and revolutionaries from the wo rld’s wo rking class movement Contact office@communist-part y. o rg.uk for further details

E m i ly Mann When Labour came to power in 1997, it promised to i m p rove equality. And yet, m o re than 30 years on fro m both the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, employers still get away with t reating women like secondclass citizens. This year’s report from the Women and Work Commission contained some shocking findings, in part i c u l a r Britain’s yawning pay gap between men and women, which is one of the worst in E u rope. Women working fulltime are paid on average 17 per cent less than men, and almost 40 per cent less if they work part-time. Black and Asian women suffer a double dose of discrimination – on average, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women earn only

56 per cent of a white man’s wage. A lifetime of low pay, the rocketing cost of (often inadequate) childcare, an extended working life and a derisory pension add up to the feminisation of poverty in this country. The commission made some seemingly welcome recommendations – for example, improved flexible working arrangements and extra training programmes for women re t u rning to work after having childre n . However, not only are these recommendations larg e l y cosmetic and likely to be watered down even more, but the commission rejected what unions and women’s campaign g roups had argued would be the most effective tool to close the pay gap: statutory pay reviews, which would forc e companies to ensure that


Thursday 14 September 2006 TUC Communist Party daily unity women are not disadvantaged. The voluntary approach to pay reviews has been given a chance since 1970; it clearly doesn’t work. As for extra flexibility, this all-too-often translates into working antisocial hours, harmful to family and community as well as personal health. The commission declared that “trade unions should train their representatives to p romote the benefits of flexible working options and win hearts and minds among management and employees for best practice policies and p ro c e d u res and monitor the right to request flexible working.” That’s all very well, but union reps will have a hard job achieving it without any legal rights to paid time off to do the work re q u i red – demands for which the commission also ignored. No wonder the Equal O p p o rtunities Commission has w a rned that, at the pre s e n t rate of change, it will take another 200 years or more for women to gain equality in Britain. Challenging this lamentable situation must be a priority for all trade unionists. The Charter for Women, which brings together the policies of the TUC women’s c o n f e rence and wider feminist demands, is a campaigning p rogramme around which a b road movement has already mobilised. It has been adopted by numerous unions and women’s groups, such as Unison, Amicus and the National Assembly of Women – make sure your organisation adopts it too. Commitments to equality are important; action to implement them is even m o re so. The Charter is an invaluable tool in making visible pro g ress on this cru c i a l front. The Charter for Women can be downloaded from www.natfhe.org.uk/?entityTyp e=Document&id=143 Emily Mann is the Communist Party women’s org a n i s e r

No to war, racism and privatisation! Unite the labour movement Blair and Brown are taking the government on a collision course with the British people. On every key issue the New Labour duo have got it wrong.And the result is electoral disaster – with nazis elected in Labour strongholds and a Tory revival. Millions of Labour voters have given up on the party. Militant and active unions grow in strength and numbers Labour Part y membership plummets and still they persist with big business policies. On the key issue of the war and occupation of Iraq the government is isolated from the British people. On rail, health and transport privatisation, on housing policy millions are angry at New Labour policies.And on libert y, justice and migration the government panders to reaction and racism. But there is real resistance to big business policies.The campaign to reclaim Labour for the movement which created it is winning the commonsense backing of most trade unionists. And it is increasingly at one with a vast new movement – against war, racism, discrimination and privatisation in finding new ways to act. And the Communist Party – which alone among political p a rties is rooted in the mass movement and the organised working class – is growing in size and influence. Only lack of resources holds us back. So the Communist Party is unashamed in asking for money. No sum is too small. But we need real money too. So give till it hurts…the bosses. What your money buys … Give the price of a pint 200 leaflets Give the price of a round 20 colour posters Give one day’s wage a loudhailer Five give one day’s wage 5000 pamphlets Ten give one day’s wage an election campaign 1000 give one day’s wage wages for 3 organisers What you can do! Organise a collection from friends, f a m i ly and work mates or give an individual donation Pledge form overleaf… and when the appeal ends … pledge a regular m o n t h ly donation Standing Order forms available from the C o m munist Party centre add ress overleaf or download from www.communist-party.org.uk

A day’s income to dump Blair, Brown and Bush I pledge a day’s income to fight against big business and war I enclose cheque/cash to the value of

£

I cannot affo rd a day’s income but enclose

£

signature address if a receipt is needed return to Communist Party 2006 National Appeal Ruskin House 23 Coombe Road Croydon CRO 1BD

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continued from page one Privatisation remains the c o re element in his domestic agenda but a bizarre belief in the infallibility of biometric identity cards, an infatuation with military adventures and an enduring disdain for the public sector ran through his speech. Of course, he was heckled but most delegates expected little more than a rehearsal of New Labour policies and the lame duck leader himself neither anticipated any enthusiasm for what he had to say nor attempted win much support . Blair respects nothing other than power and despite some critical words the trade union movement has rarely d e l i v e red more than rhetorical opposition to his leadership. Blair intends to go more or less on his own terms. If he is replaced by Brown it will a continuation of the same policies, perhaps delivered with a more serious attempt at t h e o retical justification. But Brown shows his contempt for the labour movement in much the same way as Blair. His response to last week’s succession saga was to expre s s in emphatic terms his continuing commitment to a d e regulated labour market and privatisation. And to add insult to injury he chose Murdoch’s Sun tabloid to back Blair over Iraq and Afghanistan. He thus proved that Blair’s depart u re may c reate a vacancy in both Number Ten and the Bush fundament but both will be filled if he is to become prime minister. Tuesday at the TUC was a s o rry afternoon that showed that for all the well e n g i n e e red policies adopted by our unions that the Labour P a rty remains, fundamentally, a voice of the working class in opposition and the the i n s t rument of the ruling class in govern m e n t . Our task is to resolve that contradiction.


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unity TUC Communist Party daily Thursday 14 September

Why you should join the communists

Robert Griffiths h rough much of its h i s t o ry, the British labour movement has sustained two parties – a federal Labour Party uniting trades unions, cooperatives and socialist groups; and a Communist Part y. The Labour Party was f o rmed at the beginning of the 20th century to secure parliamentary representation for organised workers. It was followed – as result of the First World War and the Russian revolution – by the establishment of Britain's Communist Party in 1920. These were not fundamentally separate p rocesses. Indeed, it took years before the right wing was finally able to exclude Communists from the Labour P a rt y. And it is wort h remembering that at Labour's most triumphant moment – the 1945 election landslide at

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the end of the Second World War – a motion moved by the AEU, the engineering workers union, for the re a ffiliation of the Communist Party was only n a rrowly defeated. It is a fact of history that when the Communist Party is at its strongest and most influential, so the left and the labour movement in Britain make real advances. In all the big battles fought by the working class against

mass unemployment and fascism, for decent housing, better wages and conditions, for equal pay for women, against anti-union laws and racism, against imperialist war and in solidarity with oppressed peoples – the Communist Party has been there in the front line, shoulder to shoulder with working people. No wonder the bosses and their mass media have kept up their anti-Communist p ropaganda for more than 80 years! Britain's Communists have fought back in the battle of ideas, through the Daily Worker and then the Morn i n g Star, through many other publications and political education schools, helping to p roduce generations of

working class activists and leaders. As the Marxist party of the Britain's labour movement, we have always upheld the principles of working class solidarity, militant struggle and the need to integrate battles for immediate gains into a strategy for socialist revolution. Our programme Britain's Road to Socialism shows how a militant mass movement outside parliament, producing a left government of Labour, socialist and Communist MPs, can open the way to a fundamentally better, faire r and more peaceful society. In line with that p rogramme, and as an integral p a rt of the labour movement, we also understand the i m p o rtance of defeating the New Labour cuckoos in the Labour Party nest. But that will only come about as the result of unity across the trade union movement and the left, and clarity in support of a leftwing programme. S t rengthening the Communist Party means s t rengthening the labour movement and the prospects for unity. In all the causes which unite us – for better pensions, for manufacturing and public ownership, for the Charter for Women, for solidarity with Cuba and Palestine – a stronger Communist Party is vital. You can help build the Communist Party in the most effective way, by joining it. If not you, who? If not now, when?

I want to join the Communist Party/Young Communist League name address post code e mail

age if under 25

return to Communist Party Ruskin House 23 Coombe Road Croydon CRO 1BD

Unity! TUC 2006 Thursday  

Unity bulletin published by the Communist Party for Thursday of the 2006 TUC Conference

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