The Thin End

The idiot slogan British jobs for British workers is doing just what the ruling class wants, divide and rule schmucks. Phil adds some nuance but it does come down to that nationalist slogan is a poisonous and self defeating one. Lenin said a lot but Dave says it best, (he tells me it is the SWP statement, so anyway, it says it best) here’s a taste-

The slogan accepted by many of the strikers is “British jobs for British workers”. That comes directly from Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour Party conference in 2007.

Update: Gordon has just reiterated it, utterly shameful.

And it has been encouraged by many in the higher levels of the Unite union. Derek Simpson and others at the top of Unite have done nothing to encourage resistance to job losses, or a fightback against repossessions or against the anti-union laws. Instead they go along with a campaign that can divide workers.

But it lets the bosses off the hook and it threatens murderous division at a time when we need unity in action to fight back.

It’s not Italians or Poles or Portuguese workers who are to blame for the attacks on British workers’ conditions.

Construction workers have always been forced to move far from home for jobs, whether inside a country or between countries. How many British workers (or their fathers or brothers) have been forced to work abroad from Dubai to Dusseldorf?

When workers are divided it’s the bosses who gain. Total Oil, who manage the Immingham refinery, make £5 billion every three months! Jacobs, the main contractor which has then sub-contracted to an Italian firm, made £250 million in 2007.

These are the people workers should be hitting, not turning on one another.

Those who urge on these strikes are playing with fire. Once the argument is raised it can open the door to racism against individuals. Already in some supermarket warehouses the racists are calling for action against workers from abroad.

We all know what will happen if the idea spreads that it’s foreigners, or immigrants or black or Asian people who are to blame for the crisis. It will be a disaster for the whole working class, will encourage every racist and fascist and make it easier for the bosses to ram through pay and job cuts. Already the BNP are pumping out racist propaganda supporting the strikes.

Everyone should ask themselves why Tory papers like the Express and the Sun and Mail – which hate union power and urge on privatisation – are sympathetic to the strikes.

6 Responses to “The Thin End”

  1. Dave (The Void) Says:

    This is really ugly isn’t it!

    On the other hand, there were dockers striking in solidarity with Enoch Powell in 1968, and that didn’t turn out to be a bad year. Plus, well, who’d have seen Italy this Spring and predicted Italy this autumn? Still. This raises the stakes in the political fight around the recession. And the timing! Sunday I have to leaflet against the BNP just a mile or two from where I grew up, in advance of a by-election next week. That will be fun :S

    (PS I should point out that that statement, which I copy/pasted in haste, isn’t actually my own work but the official statement of the SWP. Sorry it wasn’t clear)

  2. RickB Says:

    Well with Brown backing the slogan it makes me think they are happy for people to fight among themselves rather than pay attention to globalised capital’s role in all this. Together with ministers statements on migrants and race it adds up to cynical race baiting agenda (as well as the EU making it impractical/impossible) to deflect attention while they coast.
    (Thanks I’ve added a quick note to point that out)

  3. libhomo Says:

    Economic nationalism is ethically neutral. It can either be a way to scapegoat ethnic minorities or it can be a way to resist efforts by corporations to pit workers from one country against another through corporate controlled trade deals. The thing about economic nationalism is that it can easily be exploited.

  4. ralfast Says:

    This one seems pointed in the wrong direction. I half expect Union workers to march down the streets with giant red banners with hammers on them, or some such.

  5. jim Says:

    All wind Rick. A man who has a great job pontificates to those who either have lost lost their jobs or whose livelihoods are severely under threat, at least in the short to medium term. These workers are trying to alter the decision making of big business in their own sphere of influence and I can see no wrong in it apart from my hunch that it will not work.

  6. RickB Says:

    GLH- Yes I agree it can be but the slogan that emerged was not helpful, the reason for the lower paid foreign workers were EU laws clearly influenced by lobbying to allow corporations (so very much like corporate trade deals indeed) to import not just labour but the employment law of the recruiting country so UK minimum wages, conditions, health/safety were made irrelevant. The foreign workers were also the victims, the target needs to clearly be the law and those who got it passed. Also all corporations involved are in healthy profit so they can pay a proper amount. Fundamentally it’s down to the inequality between freely moving capital and people who cannot freely move, it should be equal or the other way round (until relationships equalise).

    Rafael- some do! Yeah they succumbed to a demagogic slogan that misses the real focus.

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