National Wage Control or Union Won Increases?

It seems that IBEC and the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) are both calling for some kind of new centralised national wage/income agreement to control pay, as some would put it, in the ‘national interest’. The two leading figures from these organisations (Danny McCoy and Kieran Mulvey respectively) have all in recent weeks made noises about the possibility of a national agreement between union, employers and the Government on pay and income with the Sunday Business Post going as far as suggesting informal discussions have already commenced on this.

Is this signs of a tip in class power or is this a cynical move to manage and control growing worker militancy, when it comes to wage claims, in the ‘national interest’ – defined broadly as not allowing wage increases outpace inflation? When the claim for wages is accompanied with a suggestion to put in place a dispute resolution mechanism it would worryingly suggest that claims over and above the decided % will be met with opposition from State institutions and this new mechanism.

We have to ask ourselves in whose interest would this kind of agreement be and why are big business calling for a national agreement now when they wanted nothing to do with one previously? What is the political economy of such a move?

Business and Government want to suppress pay. Suppressed pay boosts profits. Profits are often made directly at the expense of workers’ wages. Profits from outsourced services largely come from pay cuts or pay stagnation. Wage stagnation supports the profits of exporting companies. This covers both the interests’ of big business multi nationals operating a variety of outsourcing contracts both private and public sector and also big Irish business engaged in exporting. Wage stagnation is also required by EU economic regulations and its public finance straight jacket. Wage claims are class struggle at a very basic and local level.

It is clear business and the Government are worried about growing union and worker militancy on the wage front. They may also be concerned that recent union wins on pay, particularly for the low paid in the retail sector by Mandate trade union, may have an inspiring effect on workers and lead to increased demands and mobilising efforts. SIPTU, and Jack O’Connor, have made it clear in recent times that they are pushing for pay increases in the private sector and this is welcome news for these workers. Other union are also making positive noise in this direction.
IBEC, however, have also stated that they expect both income tax and social welfare to be looked at in conjunction with any agreement and the said dispute resolution mechanism. Meaning they will seek income tax reductions for the wealthy and also a reduction in social welfare for the unemployed.

What does the union movement need to be conscious of? The class interests of big business in coming to an inflation based flat rate national agreement that is actually harmful to wage claims arising from organised militant workers. Putting claims over and above any set national rate into a negotiating mechanism removed from direct negotiations. Removing wage struggles from the workplace damages local union organisation and worker militancy and also disincentives union organising. It breeds an attitude of ‘we all get this anyway’ and ‘isn’t this a Government pay increase’ both damaging to union strength and leverage. But most importantly it is likely to make it even more difficult for the lower paid to win pay increases above inflation, increase their standard of living and reduce inequality.

A Communist Vision of Trade Unions: A Review

Review of Toni Gilpin, “Left by Themselves: A History of the United Farm Equipment and Metal Workers Union, 1938-1955” Volumes I and II (Ph.D dss., Yale University, 1992)

From 1947 until 1955, Local 236 of the United Farm Equipment and Metal Workers Union (FE) at the International Harvester company’s plant in Louisville, Kentucky, exemplified a union run according to the Communist vision of trade unionism.

One of its officers, an African-American, James Wright, who subsequently served as an organizer for the United Electrical Workers (UE) and still later as a regional director of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), called the Local 236 “the closest to the most perfect union.”

A case study of the Louisville local comprises part of Toni Gilpin’s dissertation on the FE, one of the most radical and militant unions in American history. Gilpin recounts the FE’s story from its founding in 1938 as an early part of the Congress of Industrial Unions (CIO), through its organization of the leading farm equipment manufacturers, International Harvester and Catepillar, to its expulsion by the CIO in 1949 as one of the so-called Communist-dominated internationals and its dissolution and merger with the United Automobile Workers Union (UAW) in 1955.

The first volume consists of three chapters tracing the history of the FE, which by the mid-1940s represented 80,000 workers. The second volume consists of three chapters, a case studies of the McCormick Local 108 in Chicago and Local 236 of International Harvester in Louisville, and a conclusion.

Gilpin was a student of the labor historian, David Montgomery, and the daughter of one of the Communist leaders of the FE, DeWitt Gilpin. For her study, Gilpin not only drew on company and union papers and government documents, including extensive FBI files, but also on oral history interviews, including of her mother Mimi Gilpin and James Wright, previously quoted.

Even though many very good studies exist of the leftwing unions of the CIO and of Communist influence on the American labor movement, Gilpin does something that sets her work apart: she puts the focus on the Communist vision and practice of trade unionism and argues that this vision was “quite different” than the philosophy of “labor statesmanship” which dominated the CIO (and AFL) after World War II.

Moreover, her case studies provide concrete evidence of Communist trade unionism at the local and shop floor level. Gilpin contrasts the Communist vision of trade unionism in the FE to the vision of labor statesmanship developed by Walter Reuther and the UAW. Reuther began articulating his ideas during the General Motors strike of 1946. At first, Reuther passed off his views as a radical challenge to the corporations by arguing that General Motors could afford hefty wage increases without raising prices and that if General Motors thought otherwise it should “open the books.”

Soon, however, the conservative essence of Reuther’s social democratic ideas emerged. He urged labor not to use its economic power to get a bigger piece of the pie but to strive to increase the size of the pie by working with management to reduce workplace conflict and increase productivity, enhancing both management’s profits and workers’ wages.

By 1948, Reuther called for linking wage increases to productivity increases and the cost of living, prohibiting strikes between contracts, lengthening the contract length from one year to five, and weakening the steward or committeeman system.

The Communist leaders of FE put forward a diametrically opposite vision of trade unionism. For them, the interests of management were opposed to those of workers, and ultimately workers could win higher wages and better conditions only at the expense of company profits.

Contrary to Reuther, Communists argued that workers needed to rely not on facts, and research and public relations but consciousness, solidarity and economic power to win and protect gains. The Communists prophetically maintained that for labor to follow Reuther’s path of reducing labor costs and increasing productivity and profits would ultimately lead the companies to use their increased profits to increase speed-up and eliminate work through automation. For FE, labor must fight for increased wages without relinquishing the control of speed of work.

Moreover, FE leaders believed that for labor to lengthen the duration of contracts and to replace job actions between contracts with arbitration would demobilize the workers and weaken the unions. FE supported contracts of one-year or at most two-years duration and announced its “unalterable opposition to peace-time no-strike clauses.”

Whereas the UAW agreed to limit the number of stewards or committeemen and to restrict the time and areas in which they could operate, the FE fought for a large number of stewards, the right of stewards to an unlimited amount of time to handle grievances and the authority to investigate grievances any place in the shop.

The results were striking. In the FE contracts with International Harvester, one union representative existed for every thirty-five or forty workers and sometimes for every twenty-seven workers. With the UAW, one committeeman served 250 workers in General Motors, 300 workers in Ford, and between 200 and 500 workers in Chrysler.

The Communist vision of trade unionism produced an FE membership that was active, enthusiastic and loyal even when located in conservative areas of the country and even when confronted with attacks by employers, politicians and rival unions.

The real power of Gilpin’s study resides in her demonstration of what the Communist vision of trade unions meant at the local level by the case study of Local 236. Local 236 was organized at the International Harvester plant in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1948. With nearly 4000 members, it was the largest local in a single factory in the state.

In its first strike in 1948, a contest that lasted forty days, the Local took on and defeated the so-called “southern differential,” the corporate policy of paying workers less in the south than it paid workers doing the same job in the north. Between contracts, the Communist leaders of the international and the local believed that workers had to defend the collective bargaining contract every day on the shop floor otherwise management would whittle away gains made at the bargaining table.

Local 236 developed a sophisticated critique of the practice of relying on arbitration to settle grievances and used quickie strikes and slowdowns to enforce the contract. The Local took the position that union officers were not responsible for ending wildcat strikes and that directing the workforce was the job of management.

In 1948, the Local engaged in at least thirty-eight work stoppages (mostly short departmental stoppages), more than any other Harvester plant. Even a decade later when within the UAW, the local had a reputation of encouraging members to file grievances.

Another notable feature of Local 236 was its principled and groundbreaking struggles for racial equality. With a membership that was 14 percent Black and with white members drawn largely from the rural south, Local 236 operated in a still segregated city.

The Local put the struggle for racial equality in the forefront of its ideology and activities. Through its local paper and meetings, the Local ceaselessly drove home the point that southern wages and living standards were worse than in the north, because employers successfully divided Blacks and whites, and that discrimination against African-Americans violated simple fairness.

The Local established an integrated leadership, an integrated Women’s Auxiliary and sponsored such integrated events as dances, which provided for many members the first occasion in their lives for socializing across racial lines. The local fought for and achieved an integrated cafeteria and locker rooms as well as equal wages and job and promotional opportunities for African American workers.

Moreover, a decade before the civil rights movement, the African American and white members of Local 236 engaged in “guerilla” actions aimed at integrating the parks, hotels, and bars of Louisville. This involved white and African-American union members going together into legally designated white and black places of business and recreation, tactics that in white places invariably met with police violence and arrests.

The local also helped to lead a successful state-wide petition drive to desegregate the hospitals in Kentucky. Local 236 also supplied the backbone for the Progressive Party campaign of Henry Wallace in 1948. Though Wallace was badly beaten in Kentucky as in the country as a whole, the campaign provided many workers with their introduction to progressive, bi-racial political work.

Above all, Local 236 demonstrated the potential effectiveness and influence of a small Communist minority. Gilpin perceptively argues that the distinctive composition of the workers in the Louisville International Harvester plant in the late 1940s and early 1950s—largely young, single, ex-GIs from rural backgrounds — made them sympathetic to the Communist vision of trade unionism.

Still, whatever the reason, the history of the Local demonstrated that a very small number of Communists mainly in the leadership of the international could successfully communicate its vision to thousands of workers in a local whose members were not themselves Communists but who willingly embraced the vision as their own.

In 1947, just before the successful representation election, the effective Communist organizer of Local 236, died suddenly, and a year later, the Communist president of the local also died unexpectedly. From that time on, apparently no Communist Party member existed in the Local. Eventually, the dynamics unleashed by the Cold War put an end to this model of Communist trade unionism.

Before then, however, the inspiration of its founders and a close working relationship with the international, made Local 236 an avatar of the Communist vision of trade unionism in a way that few others would equal. Such influence made the Communists of the FE a minority like those praised by Eugene V. Debs, namely “the minorities who have made the history of this world.” Decades ago, only academic researchers typically had access to dissertations like Gilpin’s.

Today, however, any interested reader in the instructive story of FE can get a free copy of Gilpin’s dissertation from interlibrary loan or can purchase a hardcopy by contacting University Microfilms in Ann Arbor, Michigan and using the following information and websites: “Left by Themselves: A History of the United Farm Equipment and Metal Workers Union, 1938-1955. (Volumes I and II)” by Toni Gilpin, Ph.D., Yale University, 1992, 638 pages.

Available from: AAT 9315189 or here

January 19, 2013

Taken from

Workers win with their unions

Workers win with their unions

Calling all Electricians NATIONAL STRIKE February 2014

Calling all Electricians NATIONAL STRIKE February 2014

Please click on the Download button below to view the leaflet.

Calling all Electricians NATIONAL STRIKE February 2014

The only option is class struggle

In March 2013, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, spoke at a conference held in Chicago. His remarks were on the plight of working people in the USA and the continued inability of the labor movement to gain new members and reverse its downward trend.

In preparation for the AFL-CIO convention in September 2013, the top leadership has issued a call for a discussion on what they have termed, “new models and new ways to gain representation and represent workers.” Trumka detailed some of the major problems facing unions and working people which included a declining membership, reduced retirement security, and an increase in income inequality.

He stated that unions need to tell a story that they are not the problem, but the solution to the problems facing all working people and the labor movement remains the largest force for progressive change in America. Fair enough but is this anything new? How should communists and others on the left respond to this “call” for new ways and new ideas?
First, the economic conditions for the vast majority of working people continue to deteriorate. Big business, with support in both major political parties continues its one sided class war of austerity and brazenly moves on all fronts to destroy all of labor’s gains.

Yet the top leaders of the AFL-CIO are either unable or unwilling to mount any serious alternative program that publicly challenges this assault. The first and foremost discussion Brother Trumka needs to hear is an honest debate in all union locals about what labor stands for and how it will fight to achieve its goals.

Labor’s problems go much deeper than a shallow debate that focuses on labor’s organizational forms and technical discussions of rearranging union bodies through mergers and consolidations.
A critical evaluation of Labor’s overall mission and how to fight the corporate/political onslaught is what’s desperately needed. The current situation provides an opportunity for Communists and honest forces on the left to revitalize the labor movement through class struggle trade unionism. Left formations around concrete issues and demands should be on the agenda for honest forces in the labor movement.

Our role is to move an agenda with concrete proposals in all levels of the labor movement that challenges the prerogatives of capital and mobilizes an action plan for its implementation. Will labor mobilize its ranks and begin to lead a mass movement against concessions in the workplaces and austerity for the working class? Is one of the “new ideas” putting resources into a labor-led coalition and in the streets to save Social Security/ Medicare?

What about fighting for a mass jobs program that rebuilds the nation’s crumbling infrastructure at union wages?

Or mobilizing the working poor around a campaign to raise the minimum wage?

Or mounting a campaign to win a six-hour day, which would create millions of jobs?

Why not a debate on the destruction of civil liberties, its impact on labor and the need to cut the war economy?

Single payer healthcare could be a magnet that gives labor another opportunity to unite union members and the general public.

Both major parties worship at the altar of big money and have adopted austerity for working people and corporate coddling as their main political plan. Will labor offer an independent challenge to this morally bankrupt and rotted political system? These and many other crucial issues need to be addressed by an independent labor movement that mobilizes and advocates for all.

The example of the visceral anger and readiness of sizable sections of the rank and file labor to fight and mobilize during the recent battle in Wisconsin is a good example of energy that can be replicated throughout the country.

Other examples abound. The possibilities for moving to higher levels of struggle must be nurtured in local unions, workplaces, and wherever workers gather. A conscious class-struggle presence in the rank and file is necessary to channel this anger and energy to move forward. The constant attacks against labor by business and the corporate media can lead to confusion, cynicism, disillusionment, and hopelessness.

At this particular juncture, the lack of a progressive ideology has disabled and disoriented the union movement. The current top leadership is not capable of mounting the necessary fight back in the workplace, communities, and political arena. It’s simply not in their DNA.

Their reliance on labor-management partnerships and obedience to the Democrats as a political strategy has confused and disarmed workers. It constitutes the fundamental weakness of the labor movement today. Labor cannot win the hearts and minds of its own members or the general public if it appears as special interest group whose leaders just want to maintain a dues income for a section of top bureaucrats.

The current attacks on working people call out for a radical alternative response that breaks with passivity and pursues independent action in the interests of workers and the public in general.

Only a shift toward class struggle unionism can begin to offer the necessary strategy and tactics that will challenge capitals plundering. Because most of the top leaders have bought into class-collaboration trade unionism and are sorely deficient in principles, standards or ideology, the struggle to interject a militant program will be viewed with skepticism and even ridicule by many at the highest levels in labor.

However, it is only by having a conscious foundation built at the lower levels will a real movement take hold and prosper. We must be convinced of this. It represents the hope of the future for working people. Working people are getting a raw deal.

Let us give conscious political direction to the latent anger and energy now permeating our land and give it an organized voice in our unions and communities.

Let’s use the call for “new ideas” as an opportunity to rebuild labor on popular independent foundation that that galvanizes working people in the workplaces, streets and at the polls. Labor has still has the capacity to step up and provide this new alternative direction.

Let us work to make it a reality.

May 24, 2013

E. J. Dewey is a labor and political activist with over 35 years of experience in the labor and political arenas. He served 15 years as a central labor council president.

Taken from

Labour Party pushing the privatisation of schools

The new education “reforms” being promoted by Brendan Howlin and Ruairí Quinn are a step closer to the all-out privatisation of our schools.

In essence, schools would be given a lump sum in public funding but would have the authority and autonomy to spend this as they saw fit. They would have control over class sizes and over the number of teachers they required, how many special-needs assistance they required, and other resources and materials. This would remove the national regulations that the state attaches to funding, which require certain standards and best practice be met for every school, so as to leave no child or area behind or deprived.

These “reforms” would in practice result in increased funds being spent on high-achievers and increased inequality between schools and within classes. Labour Party ministers are spinning this as increased power on the ground for schools and more local control so as to respond to local needs; but the long-term objective of these policies, whether the Government acknowledge it or not, is the privatisation of schools while they still receive public grants—in other words, corporate welfare.

The INTO is rightly concerned not only for its members but also for the quality of education this system would produce. “This will lead to more bureaucracy for schools and less transparency in the education system,” the union said. “The idea smacks of a failed policy championed by the Tory Party in Britain, and teachers will be shocked hearing such a proposal from a Labour minister.”

Teachers’ performance would be monitored and managed by a centralised watchdog, the Teaching Council, which would have increased powers to discipline and even dismiss teachers. With increased pressure and more paperwork, teachers would be more concerned about ticking the right boxes and shifting responsibility so as to avoid blame rather than about the quality of education that children are receiving.

These policies are virtually cut and pasted from Britain and the United States, where they have failed workers and schoolchildren dismally, as they would here. But they were not designed with teachers or pupils in mind: they are deliberately designed to break up the national cohesion of schools, so that individual schools can be privatised bit by bit, providing an elitist and unequal education system that benefits only the few.

It is intended that this plan will be piloted before being introduced throughout the country. Unions need to be conscious of the long-term privatisation agenda and resist this plan now to prevent the complete privatisation of schools in the future.

Building Class Consciousness in 2014

The Trade Union Left Forum (TULF) was set up in late 2011 by class and politically conscious trade unionists from across both public and private sector unions. The aim of the TULF is to provide a space for left trade unionists to freely discuss the position of the movement today and how to build a militant class conscious union movement that is so clearly needed.

Privatisation is a huge class issue today as the policies of the Troika and our own ruling elite continue to hand over public wealth to private business as risk and debt are socialised and profits and wealth privatised. This is a political strategy to enrich the few at the direct expense of working people and prop-up ailing profits. It is not merely technical economic sense as it is often presented. It is simply class robbery.

The trade union movement needs to fight back and defend public wealth in material ways. We must defend Bord Gais, ESB, bus routes, our health service and various other pieces of public wealth but also fight back at an ideological level and defend the right and benefit of public wealth and ownership. To date our movement has failed to do this or to implement the NIPSA motion passed at Conference that said:

Conference rejects the view that there are no alternatives to the sell off and privatisation of public services and calls upon the Executive Council to oppose what is effectively a form of economic blackmail dressed up as initiatives to stimulate growth and employment. This destructive approach is unsustainable as with further economic and financial crisis inevitable, what else will be sacrificed to appease the large corporations and financial institutions that brought the world economy to the brink of collapse?

Conference condemns any attempt to use the financial and economic crisis as leverage to force the sell-off of public utilities, land and other publicly owned resources.
This Forum published ‘Privatisation – Robbing The People’s Wealth’, click here to download, to highlight the dangers of privatization and the class forces behind it identifying those who win and those who lose from it.

To further this the TULF plans to hold a meeting on Thursday, January 16th at 6pm in the TEEU hall on the subject of ‘Union opposition to privatisation’. Further details on this will be communicated to all signed up to the TULF network. So if you haven’t already done so make sure you do at

Here’s to a class conscious and militant 2014!

PAME Union Activists in Greece

The TULF send our solidarity and best wishes to the 35 PAME union activists in Greece who were found innocent on December 20th having been arrested and tried for disturbing the peace and public services during a union strike last January 2013.

Their lawyer summed up the reason for their arrest “it was very clear that the trial had political characteristics and features in order to strike against the workers who are really resisting.”

And as one of the 35, and executive committee members of PAME, said:

“We have serious fronts of struggle ahead of us. The fronts of health, collective bargaining agreements, the unemployed. We must struggle for these demands, intervene against the government, so that the people can live. We must support the unemployed. Our right to work concerns everyone. And, chiefly all these things we are struggling for concern the younger generation, our children. We have a major obligation towards them. Forwards with strength, with militancy so that we can struggle in the battles to come. And as the song says, which we repeat: “don’t expect us to bend even for one moment.”

Do we want a co-ordinated market economy?

David Begg recently published a paper called “Trade Unions and the Common Good,” which forms the opening of the second report of the Commission on the Irish Trade Union Movement. This was established to reform the trade union movement, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of unions to fewer than ten and centralising the movement in a federal structure under the ICTU.

This is a hugely important process and one that should have the active attention of all trade unionists. Yet despite its far-reaching aims and goals, there has been virtually no discussion of it among elected representatives or rank-and-file activists. The Trade Union Left Forum encourages all union members to read both reports (available on this site and also on the ICTU website) and to engage your own unions on this question.

Most striking about Begg’s paper is his presentation of what a progressive economy might look like, as a “co-ordinated market economy”, fully accepting that Ireland remains an “open” economy, as if there is a common desire for this within the movement, despite there having been no democratic discussion or debate on the subject.

Begg sees this “co-ordinated market economy” as flowing from deeper integration within the European Union, and suggests a closer relationship of the trade union movement to the Labour Party. This completely ignores the reality that the EU is in fact a principal cause of the economic crisis in Ireland, and has unjustly imposed the burden of the crisis on working people, with the active support of the Labour Party, as well as of social-democratic parties throughout Europe. Has socialised corporate debt been repudiated or has austerity ended in any European country where a social-democratic party was in government?

Begg also fails to acknowledge that much of his lauded Norwegian model is based on the country’s control of its natural resources, a demand that is missing from his presentation. In fact national control or ownership of any part of the economy is almost entirely missing from his vision. The closest he comes to this is calling for “national champions” and state intervention in the form of a state holding company in which the public and the private sector would collaborate to invest presumably in more of the failed and costly public-private partnerships.

Begg’s analysis fails to describe or to understand the actual reality of monopoly capitalism today. It is not about what capitalism should be but what it actually is. Capitalism is responsible for this crisis, and for poverty and for unemployment: these are not “unjust effects,” as he calls them.

Production and jobs are moving to low-wage countries. Technological improvements in production replace jobs and produce more, creating a massive imbalance in supply and consumption. Debt is being used to fuel consumption in increasingly wasteful products. Profits and growth in the real economy have been stagnant for decades. Capitalist growth is in direct contradiction to our planetary and environmental needs. Financial products, tax evasion and massive illegal trafficking have been used to absorb surplus capital and find profits. Wages in real terms have consistently declined in the west.

These are features of the system and cannot be undone by a policy tweak here or there.
If Begg’s “co-ordinated market economy” is allowed to be the vision of the trade union movement, our decline will continue and our irrelevance grow with it.

Socialists—those who believe in a planned and socially owned and controlled economy—should be warned of the direction in which this commission is driving the trade union movement and need to argue for a political economy for the working class, one that recognises class struggle and recognises the critical question of the generation of wealth and the ownership of wealth as being central to our needs for a democratic economy and a democratic Ireland.

The Fairy Tales of Kildare Street

The fanfares for the minister’s budget speech in the Dáil are now over. It was a cleverly written speech, with lots of spin, incomplete figures, and a drip-feed of cuts in the days following it.

The orchestrated sound-bites are designed to cover what is yet another savage attack on the ill, the old, youth, women, and workers in general. It gives priority to private health over public health, so driving people to private insurers and monopoly health-providers. Cuts to the subvention to public transport will only benefit private transport operators.

The budget is a further consolidation of the drive to make Irish workers a reservoir of cheap labour and to make Ireland a zone of precarious employment and retain it as a tax haven. In particular, young people have been the main targets of this strategy. The attack on young people and the cuts they will be forced to endure, including “workfare,” have now effectually reduced the minimum wage for those under twenty-five to €3.50 per hour.

But this budget is not merely a set of cuts: it is also a further consolidation of the strategy of making austerity permanent and irreversible that is being imposed by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, which are loyal lieutenants and handmaidens of the ruling economic elite and the interests of the EU.

The Labour Party is now beyond repair and is paying the price for propping up the establishment. Opportunist forces will, predictably, attack the Labour Party and its representatives in the trade union movement, solely for their own electoral advantage. For what is clear is that, for all their detailed criticism of the nuts and bolts and the percentages, their critiques are firmly within the framework of the system itself and do not pose any real challenge.

The EU, ECB and IMF will be happy enough with this continued approach of making working people pay the price for the crisis. There is a total commitment to paying the odious debt and, more importantly, servicing that debt to the tune of €8 or 9 billion per year. They are guaranteeing a permanent return to the holders of debt bonds and monopoly finance capital and a massive transfer of capital out of the country into their coffers, an outflow of the people’s money so necessary for proper economic and social development.

The majority of organisations in the so-called “social pillar” are hopelessly caught up in the food chain, silenced or muted by their dependence on dwindling government money.

The Trade Union Left Forum believes that only a politically and organisationally rejuvenated trade union movement will have the strength to mount any challenge to the present course. The basic question regarding this budget and the establishment’s strategy, when you strip away the spin, is, Who stands to win and who loses? The movement needs to realise which side it is on.