This week it has been revealed that police spies infiltrated construction union Ucatt in order to gather information against trade union activists.
The information, gathered over an extensive period, is believed to have been used to blacklist activists and undermine the work of trade unions exposing dangerous health and safety practices.
The police espionage appears to be linked to Tory donor and blacklisting criminal building firm Sir Robert McAlpine.
This infiltration is in many ways similar to the Shrewsbury 24 story, where workers were rounded up and thrown in prison for the crime of organising a building workers’ strike.
Sadly state collusion against trade unions and their members is nothing new and will surprise very few on the left. It demonstrates to us that the state is under no illusion regarding the potential that trade unions have to organise against bad bosses and fight back against anti-worker governments.
Blacklist Support Group has called for a full inquiry into this scandal, and it is in the public interest that building firms which have used this information to harm trade unions, workers and their families are held to account and never given government contracts again.
Yet it seems Britain’s most abusive firms can get away with anything. Barclays boss Antony Jenkins has recently taken a £1.1 million bonus for his “great work” in 2014, thus taking his annual salary to a staggering £5.5m. Mr Jenkins’s huge payout follows in the wake of the bank’s involvement in the rate-rigging scandal. It is also sickening to think that his bonus for a supposedly good performance occurs in same year that Barclays slashed 14,000 jobs, with another 5,000 to go by 2016.
Trade unions and campaign groups from 25 European countries have written an open letter to MEPs warning them of the dangers that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) poses to public services, the environment and workers’ rights among other issues.
Up until a year or so ago very few people had heard of this secret corporate power grab which will force national governments to put public services out to the lowest bidder.
With the ongoing blacklisting scandal you can see the kind of impact private companies running our public services will have on the ability of trade unions and activists to organise in those areas of work.
Last summer TTIP was debated at trade union conferences leading up to the TUC, and although the Morning Star has been covering it for a long time, other media outlets are finally beginning to report on it. In a short space of time campaigns to build broad alliances with trade unions and communities across Europe and raise an opposition against TTIP have come a long way.
However, what many opposed to TTIP fail to consider is the profoundly undemocratic and anti-worker nature of the European Union. It is no accident that the EU is negotiating this kind of free trade agreement with the US. In fact TTIP fits perfectly into their shared neoliberal agenda of destroying workers’ rights and selling off public assets.
TTIP finds a home with the undemocratic and unaccountable European troika which has so harshly quashed the anti-austerity aspirations of the Greek people in recent weeks. The purpose of TTIP — which is to undermine the ability of nation states to control massive corporations — rests happily with the EU forcing privatisation, huge government spending cuts and the erosion of workers’ rights through its treaties and pro big business courts.
Most people across Europe didn’t get a vote on these European treaties and they are unlikely to get a vote on TTIP. But with huge pressure from our trade unions and communities standing shoulder to shoulder across Europe we still have the ability to defeat TTIP.