The Workers’ Opposition gives political perspective to the Trades Unions and also works closely with the Trades Councils as a conduit. It has already provided much needed ideology, policy and strategy and tactics as an organised part of the Trades Councils.
The Workers’ Opposition is both the general resistance and conscious development of the workers’ alternative and is concretised in the Organised Workers’ Opposition. It is not separate but integral to the development of the Trades councils. It looks at the present issues but also takes care of the future of the movement such as empowerment.
The Workers’ Opposition and the Trades Councils have developed principles out of their work and they simultaneously have adopted the economic standpoint that, “More Should be put into the local economy than is taken out”.
The reason behind the demand for European funding streams to the Isle of Wight in the period of Government inspired austerity and cuts is not only part of opposition to cuts, to pay for debt and deficit, but is also because the island demands what is rightfully ours. The perceived view, previously and today, is that there is an immediate need for investment funding in aid of the Isle of Wight economy and jobs.
The logic behind our switch in emphasis to the strategic emphasis of ‘pointing the finger at the government’ is because we do not believe that island services should be reorganised or “re-engineered” by the local authority tinkering with the system. Political problems require political solutions. The Government is causing the problem and the island should fight against it.
The Isle of Wight County Association of local Trades Councils adopted the resolution:
“Due to Reduced funding there is no doubt that cuts in services and jobs will occur. The finger of blame must rest with central government. Grants are being lost. The T.U.C. will work with community groups and councillors to restore funding”.
We have an oppositional view regarding outsourcing and moving services to Hampshire as we believe it undermines our labour force and local Democracy.
We don’t like education going off island, Privatisation and Academies, but support the LEA. Other outsourcing such as island roads PFI is a problem with us. The question arises about, “What is the point of the council’ if the direction is moving services to Hampshire, moving services down to local parishes, selling services off to the private sector. Discretionary services or statutory services are in an unstable state and face the possibility of being outsourced too. It is the view of the Council that a point comes where it states categorically that ‘enough is enough’ and the grounds should be prepared for that situation now and not wait for some other council to do it for political expediency. This is why we think THE FINGER SHOULD BE POINTED AT THE GOVERNMENT NOW and not just through national agencies and networks but out in public.
The Trades Council does not accept that cuts should be made. Cuts in services provided for local citizens have included, care services for the disabled, jobs at County hall, in schools, cultural events, libraries and even public toilets.
The crisis has been caused by the rich and in particular the bankers and the people should not be made to pay for it. The recession has been caused by the capitalists and they have no solution to it. Now there is lack of growth and lack of investment. The manufacturing base is only around 10% of the total national GDP and the Westminster cartel of political parties fails to address the problem. The island economy cannot survive on tourism alone. Services should be maintained not through Council Tax increases for the poor, Precept rises, or even Car Park charges. Outsourcing to Hampshire or elsewhere or privatisation is not beneficial to island jobs or quality services. Jobs at County Hall should not be the sacrificial lamb where the brunt of cuts should fall.
We are proud of our hospital, St Mary’s, and we will make every endeavour to safeguard it like the apple of our eye. We are about safeguarding the future of the NHS on the Isle of Wight. Everyone, young and old, from whatever background needs St Mary’s sometime. Along with hospitals up and down the country, the island NHS is threatened. We insist that the decision making should not be the men in suits, the politicians from the mainstream political parties etc, but the people and that is why we say,
“Not one part of the NHS to be cut, not one job to be lost and not one penny off the budget!”
A Health service has become one of the key modern rights in society. This is about our right to a fully funded NHS and we should demand it.
A recent research pointed to the amount that Private Finance Initiatives (PFI’s) are sucking out of the system. It has emerged that the NHS will have to pay private sector contractors an incredible £53bn for hospitals worth only £8bn. Private sector firms involved in the PFI projects will benefit from a massive 540% return on the initial agreement.
At a time when the NHS is confronting deficit, leaving medical staff, nurses, facing job cuts, wards facing closure, and patients facing further delays in securing treatment it is not the right decision to de-skill and rundown departments. It is closure by stealth to outsource and move services like the blood bank to the mainland. Some other services have been moved like the spinal faculty. Ambulance services from the mainland to the Isle of Wight, with the use of private contractors, have proved to have been a disastrous failure. There has been a reduction to zero of Consultants and GP surgeries are to close around the island.
Another aspect of the financial problem has been the soaring costs of drugs from the profiteering pharmaceutical companies.
The Workers’ opposition is opposed to the Health and Social Care Act and demands that is repealed. Any outsourced services to the Private sector or taken out of the control of the NHS should be brought back.
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are NHS organisations set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to organise the delivery of NHS services in England. They replace primary care trusts (PCTs) for involving the public in their decisions and are inadequate. The experience of the Isle of Wight Trades Council has not been positive with the development of Health forums, the link and Healthwatch. The Workers’ Opposition is not convinced of the “benefits” of Foundation Trust status with St Mary’s.
The Comprehensive system of education had moved forward the process of public education, but the process of development has been impeded. The rudiments of ‘Child Centred Learning’ was cut off in its prime by the neo-liberals. Capital Centred Learning came face to ace with ‘Child Centred Learning’ and pro-social Human Centred Learning.
The Alternative includes, balancing relationships, between pupils to teacher, pupil to pupil and teacher and pupil, to the community and society and become essential to developing a human centred education.
Teachers should have more say, be able to act more freely, and develop their roles as learning facilitators and instructors.
The trend of Child Centred Education represented a shift in the education of children away from the propertied class Capital Centric and private discrimination of education. The Capital Centred ideology is guided by notions of superiority and infliction of minimalist and reductionist rationing of facts. It is channelled by pragmatic notions of “what works” or “what is essential”. Child Centred Education was a paradigm shift that has assisted in formulation of modern definitions in terms described as “Human Centred”, it involves a qualitative leap in the social condition and confronts society with a concrete Alternative.
The Trade Unions have long fought for the rights of pensioners to a decent livelihood in old age. The cutbacks in Final Salary Pension Schemes in many jobs are well known and the Trades Unions will continue to fight for pension rights at the place of work and for a decent State Pension. The actions of Public Sector Workers should affirm recognition that an injury to one is an injury to all. The Government is hell-bent on driving up the retirement age, destroying pension schemes and cutting benefits. Workers who have worked hard and built up their savings to support their pensions, took out advanced voluntary contributions, built superannuations, “done their 40” years, paid of debt and mortgages are being attacked for doing so through interest rates on savings and cost of living rises. Many of these are not involved in the system. Many of these are derogatorily termed, “economically inactive” by the Department of Work and Pensions. It is also a lie as they have spending and investment power and often work voluntarily in the community. There are many in the Isle of Wight Community who have spouses who are employed and themselves do not sign on. The right to retire at 60 is as important as the right to a decent income in old age.
End Low Pay
It is now essential that we fight for the Living Wage. There are two aspects to the issue. First there is the long term aspect of low pay on the Isle of Wight and second there is the Government Austerity that includes low pay.
The gap between rich and poor is widening and whole sections like Health workers are being limited to 1% cost of living increases, which is way below inflation and has been held down for a number of years. Some who receive performance or incremental increases do not receive even this. Council and Public Sector workers are being told that they cannot be paid more because of Austerity and budget deficits.
College workers and lecturers have come to the forefront recently to demand the Living Wage as do shop workers in USDAW. Even more have been involved recently in the wider actions of Public sector workers who are on low pay.
We do not accept that low pay should continue to exist on the Island and that nothing can be done. Seasonal work is not acceptable as an excuse to keep pay low. There are many firms, hotels and shops operating unnecessarily with low pay. It is also not acceptable that immigrant workers have to exist on pay, which is below the National Minimum wage. We call on all unorganised workers to join a Trade Union and work on the basis of UNITY IS STRENGTH! and THE UNION DEFENDS US ALL!
Unemployment is high on the Island. The National figures of unemployed are manipulated to such an extent that they cannot be taken seriously. They do not take into account those who do not or can no longer sign on; the actual number of unemployed is much higher. The Isle of Wight has a population of around 140,000 of which just about 40,000 are in some kind of employment. The island has the lowest GDP per head in the SE region, and indeed, with the exception of Mid Glamorgan, the lowest in the entire UK. The impact of this shows itself on the island in the form of high levels of deprivation. The unemployment situation on the island is the worst in the south east of England. Many people were living on poverty benefits, recently the government has slashed benefits and left many reduced to poverty. The cuts were draconian and aimed primarily at those perceived as not being able to defend themselves, many having both physical and mental health conditions. The Trades Union Council denounces these Government moves. The Government continues with its propaganda that “More are in work” to offset recognition that unemployment is a problem.
The Government slashes Welfare Benefits like Job Seekers’ Allowance in order to force workers to take low paid jobs and bring the jobless total down. Workers are made homeless because of high rents and mortgage payments and some attacked under the “Bedroom Tax” and some are reduced to use foodbanks. These undignified attacks are part of the Government Austerity measures and are opposed by the Workers’ Opposition.
We believe that the island provides an ideal opportunity for the development of an integrated transport system and can model the development of one. The endemic problem of clogged up roads, parking and all associated problems has to be tackled. It is in our interests to have a regulated public transport system with reasonably priced bus, train and ferries on the island, which are clean, safe and reliable. We do not think that this is outside the realms of possibility. We also are firmly of the opinion that this is essential in order to protect the environment, which we all deeply care about. It is from this standpoint that we support the re-regulation of ferries and buses on the island.
We do not believe that it is in the interests of the people on the island that private monopolies such as Macquarie/Wightlink and Red Funnel should have total control of ferries and that the council should provide a cheap ferry service for islanders.
Macquarie is an Australian Finance and banking monopoly that operates purely for profit and does not care one iota about services. It has bought up many transport franchises around the world.
The Workers’ Opposition has considered Macquarie/Wightlink and explains the Trades Councils’ role since the big Public Meeting at Newport Football ground and elaborates its campaign. The Trades Council suggests a position should be adopted that the engagement with Macquarie/Wightlink should be negotiations.
The stated long term position of the Trades Council for a public Ferry Service is reiterated. Returning Wightlink to the Public cannot entail foisting Macquarie debt along with it. Therefore we say, ” CANCEL THE DEBT”.
We view the ferry as a service and extension of our road connection.
Also a short term negotiating position is given aimed at concessions, which are not final solutions.
The short term stance has a negotiating platform based on reinstating services would mean in the first place two hour extensions at weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights). Also the most costly piece of water in the world should be reduced for islanders and should be a maximum of £25 return for passengers and car. Also various emergencies and off island visits for residents should be free.
The Workers’ Opposition was against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were against the interference of NATO in Libya and this has shown to be correct and also in Syria. We oppose war on Iran. We are against the Governments attempts to open up new areas of conflict such as in the DPRK (North Korea). Also we are opposed to the British and European strategy of lining up behind the US and NATO in trying to surround both Russia and China.
Britain should not be involved or interfere in the Ukraine; it should not have meddled along with the EU and the United States.
Britain should withdraw from NATO and it should be disbanded.
Workers’ Opposition supports the struggle of the Palestinians for a homeland against the continuing encroachments of Zionist Israel. We support in particular the heroic people of Gaza who are trying to free themselves from the Israeli blockade and continuous aggression.
We believe that all international problems should be sorted out peacefully and through dialogue. Much of the funding that could be used to fund social programmes is diverted towards financing wars. If we had a government that was truly anti-war we would not have many financial problems. Many young workers on the Isle of Wight join the armed services and end up in places like Afghanistan. We do not want our children who join up to have to face these dangerous situations; we do not want the trauma to be passed to bereaved families who lose loved ones. Most wars are not in workers’ interests as it is them that have to go and fight, often against other young workers in poor countries.