‘While Brexit understandably dominated many of the debates at the TUC conference, other vital issues were neglected to a worrying extent’, Andy Bain told the Communist Party’s political committee on Wednesday evening.
He praised the efforts of some unions and delegates in Brighton this week to focus more on austerity, public services, manufacturing and the urgent need to boost investment in technology, public transport, housing and other aspects of Britain’s inadequate infrastructure. In particular, the CP trade union organiser highlighted the TUC’s failure to campaign for the ambitious ‘New Deal’ package of economic policies agreed 12 months ago. ‘The renewed commitment to this radical project must now be backed up with action’, he remarked, pointing out that workers have shown through recent strikes and solidarity activities that they can be mobilised for a fight-back.
Britain’s Communists proposed that the drive should begin immediately for a massive ‘New Deal’ day of action on May 1 – International Workers’ Day – next year. In the meantime, the CP political committee urged unions to cooperate closely in pursuit of two key New Deal objectives: the re-establishment of collective bargaining across key sectors of the economy, along the lines suggested by the Institute for Employment Rights, and recruitment drives in workplaces blighted by low pay, precarious employment and the super-exploitation of young and migrant workers.
On Brexit, Andy Bain said that removing a ‘No Deal’ option from the British government’s negotiating position also removed an incentive for EU representatives to take legitimate concerns about the Single Market ‘backstop’ and a huge divorce bill seriously.
Moreover, he criticised as ‘absurd’ the notion that a Labour government should negotiate a new withdrawal agreement with the EU and then campaign against it in a second referendum. ‘If the anti-Brexit extremists in Labour’s ranks get their way, they will not only betray the party’s pledge to honour the people’s votes in June 2016 and 2017 – they will also risk driving way millions of long-time Labour voters while making the party a laughing-stock’, Mr Bain warned.