Trade Unions vs Workers' Cooperatives

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

RevolutionTrade Unions, across the board, do mot seem to very much like worker-owned cooperatives at all, to say the very least. There does not appear to be one that supports those and encourages workers to form them.

This lack of enthusiasm for worker-owned enterprises and cooperatives of that nature is, nevertheless, understandable as workers who own the means of production are no longer in need tof a trade union.

While the unions once stood for something it would appear that today they only stand for themselves and are more neo-liberal than socialist in their outlook and operations and are becoming more and more part of the problem rather than being a solution. They have themselves become an industry.

When workers own the means of production, such as in the case of workers' cooperatives, trade unions are obsolete and no doubt that is the reason of the rather negative and/or condescending attitude of the trade unions towards such groups.

What this proves is that the trade unions in capitalist countries are not interested in abolishing capitalism as it would do away with a need for them, for, as said, when the workers own the means of production themselves the unions' reason to exist has ceased. That, however, they try to prevent at all costs and thus it is rather difficult to see how they can claim to represent the interest of the workers and the working class and to stand for socialism. What they understand under socialism is what some refer to as “democratic socialism”, which is nothing else but social-democracy; in other words a farce.

Much like the British Labour Party, even under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, is going into bed with big business, with Corbyn saying that the Labour Party is a natural ally of (big) business, the unions too have deserted the workers and the working class.

Once the trade unions were the standard bearers of socialism and socialist action but today they are the problem in the same way as are so many parties and NGOs. The working class is being let down left, right and center, and with that I do not mean the parties from such areas but just general. It is with friends such as those that the working class really needs no enemies and, it has to be said, we can also see this in the way deals are being made with industry and business when it comes to wage deals often. The miners' strike in the north of Britain of the 1920s should stand as only one example here where the striking miners were seriously let down by the miners' union(s) and the TUC.

The Labour Party still, at times at least, dares to sing the Red Flag, talking about the martyrs' blood, but the majority of those in the leadership of that party never ever have done an honest day's work or labor anywhere. If they did not go from university directly into party politics then they were trade union officials in the head offices, they were lawyers or bankers. Factory workers or dustmen or manual workers in any other industry or trade they certainly were not. They have never been at the coal face, stood at the furnaces of the steel works – not that Britain really has any mines or steelworks left – or at a production line of this or that manufacturing plant. Then again, not much of that happening anymore either, manufacturing in the UK, I mean, thanks to unions and government, including Labour governments, giving it all away.

As said, with friends like that the working class, and not just in Britain, does not need any enemies; the enemy is already here, disguised as a friend.

© 2016