Monday, September 10, 2007
Unions Need Someone to Lead them from the Wilderness
Hutton sees a crisis in unionism as the TUC conference convenes. Since 1980 it has lost over 6 million members from 13 down to 6.5. However, the worrying aspect of membership is that while public sector membership has held up, private sector members have not, meaning that the national union movement is now severely lopsided and lacking in credibility. Hutton wonders if they have any clear sense of mission at the current time and warns against Crow's atavistic militancy:
Above all, they have to break away from the idea, beloved by Crow and his fellow awkward squad members, that they remain central players in a live socialist project to transform the ownership and control of capitalism.
Hutton urges unions to pursue the cooperative route with capitalism which has been so successful in Scandinavia and Germany. A weakened movement might find this hard as employers have become used to ignoring unions and marginalising them. It really needs a major figure to emerge to offer genuine leadership towards a new constructive role in our society. The alternative would appear to be further decline and retreat from relevance. Scargill believed he was such a figure- he put up a fight but was wrong. Is Bob Crow a more likely candidate? I really don't think so.
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