Struggle and conflict will rebuild the movement

The TULF is committed to building a fighting trade union movement capable of enhancing the lives of union members and pushing for a better and more equitable society for working class. This will only be achieved when the movement takes on a number of principles based on the reality of class struggle today.

There are now examples from across the globe of Unions that are growing and winning on the basis of militancy and class solidarity. The Unions engaged in this kind of struggle are getting gains for their members and the communities they serve, and workers are responding to this in their droves by joining these Unions.

Workers want to join a union that will engage in struggle to protect their rights and advance their standard of living. This strengthens the struggle and contributes to more wins thus reversing the vicious spiral most Unions in Ireland are currently in. The simple principles the movement must embrace are in short militant struggle, member actions, and a total rejection of partnership.

Collective bargaining and negotiations must occur in conjunction with aggressive member actions. Concessions must be opposed and if necessary to make, only following militant aggressive / defensive struggle.  Successful negotiations are only achieved by an organised membership, not at private table, but in the office, factories and in the community.   Gains not involving the membership will not be defended over time.  Deals made behind closed doors will not build the movement. . We have to reduce our reliance on the law, IR institutions and mediation. Workers’ demands must be linked and tied to the community/customers/public they serve. Union ‘training’ must be radically transformed into class political education that places local struggles in the context of society and social relations more generally.

We need to train our shop floor leaders not just to negotiate but also how to organise internally and externally. We have to educate them not to be afraid of struggle.

Before individual grievances are taken the question should be asked what have you and your members done to resolve the issue through collective action. Will your colleagues sign a petition in support of you? Will you and your colleagues occupy the HR office or do a lunchtime protest? This creates real member empowerment and practically embodies the slogan “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

In this way, organising becomes the modus operandi of the entire union as opposed to an under resourced unit added on to business as usual servicing or just the latest buzzword.

We must embrace the key national issues of the sector the Union is in with a public-led emphasis and campaign for reforms and regulations that benefit the public at large. So, in nursing it’s about patient care, in teaching it’s about free universal education, in banking it’s to prioritise services over sales and community lending over corporate speculation.

We must also champion the cause of the unemployed and not see them as at best an after-thought and this can complement a national independent political vision and programme for working people that is followed fearlessly regardless of what Party is in government or not.

International solidarity has always been a key cornerstone of our movement and we must once again embrace those workers and State’s fighting for social justice and a better world. Rather than cot tail the liberal imperialism spouted by so many do-gooder organisations and charities, we must clearly stand by democracy, sovereignty and workers in struggle for the betterment of humanity.

This is not an easy road for the movement to take. The correct one rarely is. And it will mobilise and unite enemies both domestically and internationally, and some within the movement. But this is no reason not to change. For us to continue down the path of partnership, concession and political subservience to the Labour Party is merely to manage the decline of the movement and help big business place us firmly into the dustbin of history resigning the working class to a future of low paid, insecure and precarious work or free labour and unemployment.

The TULF stands in solidarity with those unions all over the world who are choosing this difficult route and strives to organise activists in Ireland to promote class conscious trade unionism for the betterment and advancement of working people and the unemployed– our class.