THE TUC conference in Liverpool last month adopted an emergency motion from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) opposing Nato’s war drive in Ukraine.
This decision provides the basis for developing a better understanding of the emergent danger of fascism in Europe, through the most glaring example currently in Ukraine.
RMT is the first British trade union to clearly identify the fascist-backed coup this year in Kiev as the mechanism of monopoly capitalists of the EU and US to pursue their drive towards super-exploitation, imperialism and war.
RMT’s stand led the TUC conference to adopt a position on Ukraine in line with the history of our labour movement’s opposition to fascism.
The motion reads: “Congress is concerned that the crisis has witnessed attacks on trade unionists and the empowering of fascist groups, including the Odessa massacre which saw that city’s trade union centre burned to the ground.
“In light of the dangerous and urgent situation in Ukraine, Congress calls for: the general council to hold an urgent meeting to consider how best to support those fighting for trade union rights and against fascism in the Ukraine; an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Ukraine and a peaceful, negotiated settlement and opposition to the use of British forces in the Ukrainian conflict.”
Murderous fascist activity unleashed this year in Ukraine, openly inspired by Hitler’s Ukrainian WWII allies, led to the overthrow of an elected government and the launch of violent activity against communists, trade unionists and anyone opposed to Ukrainian ultra-nationalism.
The humanitarian crisis caused by deliberate bombardment and pillage of population centres in Donbass by Ukrainian military and neonazi auxiliary units, such as the notorious Azov Battalion, has created the largest number of displaced persons in Europe since the end of WWII — over one million people according to the UN Refugee Agency on September 2.
Targeted attacks on Russian speakers, Romanians, Hungarians and Jews by far-right elements and parties associated with the Kiev regime brought to power by the Western-sponsored Euromaidan protests led to the brutal murder of 48 anti-fascist protesters in Odessa, either burnt alive in the trade union centre or shot down in the streets outside as they tried to escape on May 2 — the anniversary of the date in 1933 that nazis took over trade union buildings across Germany.
Violent attacks have also been mounted directly against trade unions.
On July 26, openly neonazi thugs from Right Sector and the Social-National Assembly, as well as Euromaidan’s own so-called self-defence militia, violently disrupted the Congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, which was attempting to elect its union leadership, and broke up the proceedings, assaulting delegates and destroying property.
The Kiev regime’s routine intimidation, assassination, threats and beating up of opposition politicians, journalists and lawyers is the hallmark of Europe’s first authentic “fascist” statelet of the 21st century.
Ukraine’s Communist Party (KPU) — with 32 MPs — was expelled from parliament in July amid fascist demands for it to be outlawed completely. It has already been banned in some localities.
KPU offices have been ransacked and burnt by fascist mobs and its activists murdered.
Party leader Petro Symonenko narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on May 15.
Kiev state-sponsored fascist death squads continue to wage war against socialists and democrats in every part of Ukraine.
In response to this unfolding catastrophe RMT’s conference in June affiliated to Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine.
Socialists and trade unionists must build on RMT’s example in supporting and affiliating to Saru.
Saru’s aims need to be explained and argued for in trades councils, trade union and political party branches throughout the labour movement.
We are against the UK and Western governments’ backing for the far-right regime in Kiev.
We oppose the planned Nato exercises in Ukraine.
We demand that the killers of 42 people at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2 be brought to justice.
We are against attacks on democratic rights and the repression of left-wing organisations.
We support the antifascist resistance in Ukraine.
Support for Saru is growing in the labour movement. Indeed, TUC delegates have gone some way to embrace Saru’s outlook.
Nevertheless, some honest trade unionists and socialists have fallen for capitalist propaganda, repeated bombastically by rightwingers and fake left forces. Some political forces in our movement spread the illusion that Western imperialist institutions, such as the EU and Nato, play a benign role.
If ever there were solid evidence to the contrary, it is provided by events in Ukraine.
Nato justifies its drive toward war using control of our media, both through direct ownership and ensuring its privileged supporters hold key editorial posts in news outlets. These platforms spread blatant propaganda for Western imperialism’s drive to war.
They tell us that Ukraine is crawling with Russian troops and cite bogus evidence. They claim the anti-fascist resistance in eastern Ukraine deliberately shot down Malaysian airliner MH17 with no concrete evidence for this assertion.
Indeed, it seems more likely, according to eyewitness accounts censored by the BBC, that MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian military aircraft under the command of the Kiev junta as a provocation.
Many in our movement have still not learned to greet the propaganda claims of US and British politicians with scepticism and disbelief even in the aftermath of the bogus claims of evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the disastrous invasion of that country.
By following RMT’s principled stand against war and fascism we can develop an understanding among millions of people of the current situation.
In so doing we can build a labour movement capable of leading broad, democratic, effective opposition to fascism and war.
The starting point must be to build affiliation and support for Saru and to work to build a broad and principled movement against Nato’s war drive in Ukraine.
David Ayrton is chair of Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine steering committee.
8 Details of how to affiliate to Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine campaign can be found at: ukraineantifascistsolidarity.wordpress.com