Sunday, 23 May 2010

What's it all about comrades?

People who saw the news last night will be aware that members of the Socialist Workers Party and possibly some others from a Right to Work Conference happening nearby got into the talks at ACAS which were taking place between Willie Walsh of BA and the the leaders of Unite.  Their intervention appears to have caused the ending of the talks.

Alot of people will be wondering exactly what this apparently rather self-indulgent action was designed to achieve.  As far as anyone knows, no BA workers were involved and none were asked by the SWP whether they actually wanted them to disrupt these talks in this way. Sometimes it is good to have a demo outside negotiations and if workers involved in a dispute smell a sell-out then they may wish to take some direct action.  Neither situation seems to apply here.

Now it is certainly true that various commentators in the blogosphere who do not wish the SWP well, are using this incident to both attack the SWP and to herald its impending doom as an organisation.  To me, the charitable explanation is that some people went along to demonstrate outside the talks, someone said "let's go in", and everyone then finds alot less security than they were expecting and before they know it they have Walsh and Woodley stood in front of them.  This might explain some of the bemusement I discerned from my TV screen on the faces of  some of the people involved.

What is clear is that either the SWP needs to explain what this action was designed to achieve, and why they suddenly had the right to assume leadership of this strike......or if it was a cock-up they need to own up and apologise.  They need to do one of these things if they hope to rescue some credibility for themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Time to say 'storm in a tea-cup'. First reports did say the protest disrupted the negotiations, and that would be substitutionist; and there was a bit of a hint of equating the union bureaucrats with the bosses; but it seems that the meeting wasn't actually disrupted - the protestors just came across Walsh in the corridor. So it does look more like youthful high spirits than a precursor of March Action-style lunacy. And check out SWP Party Notes on their web-site, defends the action, but clearly says not to do it again if it gets in the hair of union or Labour Party-types.
Matthew Graculus