BREXIT marks “the struggle between capital and labour,” Len McCluskey said yesterday as TUC Congress vowed to use Britain’s departure from the European Union to call for an end to austerity.
The Unite leader called for “an immediate end to the shameful racist backlash which has taken hold since the referendum.
“We need to say loud and clear — migrant workers in Britain are our brothers and sisters and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them against the racists,” he said.
“It is greedy bosses who are to blame here for driving down wages, not migrant workers.”
Congress overwhelmingly endorsed a motion condemning the contination of austerity while the government is simultaneously offering “bribes” to big business in the form of corporation tax cuts.
Mr McCluskey said: “A shadow hangs over too many workplaces today. Productive factories like Ford at Bridgend now have their future thrown into doubt.
“We are ready to work with employers to overcome any genuine problems that may exist. But we are not prepared to see Brexit used as a smokescreen for further disinvestment from Britain.
“Out of the EU must not mean out of work.”
But the Unite leader stressed that it was “crucial” to “recognise why we lost” and “why so many industrial communities voted to leave,” arguing they had done so “to give the Establishment a kicking.”
He continued: “Far too much of Britain has been left behind by globalisation. Whole industries have disappeared, leaving communities derelict and generations without hope.”
He hailed Nye Bevan’s call for “the great struggle between capital and labour” to be “bigger than a penny an hour” and for workers to take “the mastery of their own lives.”
“Brexit is now that struggle. We want a Britain beyond austerity and fear, shaped not by the dismal insularity of the Brexit camp but by the optimism and generosity of working people,” Mr McCluskey said.
In the debate, public-sector unions also warned that the Civil Service could be underequipped to deal with the workload of Brexit after six years of austerity and staffing cuts of 20 per cent.
Delegates endorsed a call by PCS, GMB and the First Division Association to “halt all planned staffing reductions, privatisation and changes to terms and conditions” in the Civil Service and to campaign for EU citizens working in the service to retain their residency rights.