Monday, February 02, 2009

Honest reporting

I support completely what the strikers at the Lindsey Total Refinery in Lincolnshire are demanding. Their demands are:

* No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.
* All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement.
* Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members, with nominating rights as work becomes available.
* Government and employer investment in proper training / apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers - fight for a future for young people.
* All Immigrant labour to be unionised.
* Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - including interpreters - and access to Trade Union advice - to promote active integrated Trade Union Members.
* Build links with construction trade unions on the continent.

I think the way that the media is covering this dispute is disgusting and very dangerous. They are trying to make the dispute about Labour vs the BNP and 'British jobs for British workers' protectionism vs the EU and free movement of labour.

Just one example, some BNP activists turned up at one of the demos, and the demo had finished by the time they turned up. But even though the demo was nothing to do with them, to the extent that they didn't even know what time it was happening, they still got interviewed by ITV.

Unlike the BNP, the Socialist Party have been actively involved in organising the strikes - they have members on the strike committees, and it was their demands that got adopted by the mass meeting in Lincolnshire. Based on the actual evidence of what is happening, the wider political analysis should be about whether these strikes, partly organised by trade unions and socialist activists, are part of the rise of the socialist left in response to economic crisis (as in Germany and Iceland to name but two countries).

These strikes pit the Labour government against its left-wing critics. Logically, this should lead to a rise in support for the socialists amongst those workers who agree with the strikers.

But the way that the media explains these strikes - in terms of a clash between British and foreign workers - plays into the hands of the fascists and does the work for them which their lack of organisation or roots amongst workers means that they can't do for themselves.

As Paul says, 'what’s happening is just a big load of class stereotyping, and has no actual basis in fact - it’s based on middle class people’s perceptions about how the working classes should react, given the right wing diet of media crap that they’ve been fed for years, and few people actually seem able to countenance that the working classes might actually be more resilient to this crap diet.'

2 Comments:

At 12:17 pm , Anonymous Paul said...

Don. Good post.

You are right to say that this strike pits the Labour government against the Left, and this can of course create tensions for people in Labour government (like me, in a very, very unimportant way) but who also count themselves as part of the left.

That's fine, and whatever the tensions now and maybe to come, I know where I stand (full square behind the strikers), but I think it's also worth keeping an eye on Conservative reaction to this, as it puts some of that tension in the context of 'Well at least Labour isn't as bad as this.'

Here, for example is Peter Lilley in the Commons yesterday, playing the nationalist/quasi-BNP card straight up, and not really bothering with the inconvenient little issue that he was veering completely away from the matter for debate:

'Although this dispute relates to the employment of European workers under European law, about which little can be done—at least in the short term—does the Minister accept that the reason why it has had such tremendous resonance across the country is people’s concern about the huge flux of immigration into the UK in recent years, a large part of it from outside the EU, which has accounted for a majority of the new jobs of people of working age?'

And here's Damian Green, following up with similar crap:

'If he (Pat McFadden') wants to lower the temperature out there in British industry, however, may I commend to him the policy of having an explicit annual limit on work permits issued to those coming in from outside the EU, because that would do a great deal to restore confidence in the fact that our immigration system is actually under control, as opposed to the current feeling in the country that for years it has been out of control?'

 
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