LETTER: The return of union militancy

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From Mr Bill Mullins

Sir: John Monks's comments about the rise of militancy in the workplace should come as no surprise ("Labour or Tory, we want to talk", 12 September). The massive resentment on the shopfloor against the dictatorial methods of management is only waiting for a means of expressing itself. Union leaders should give a fighting lead on burning issues like job insecurity and low pay, rather than spend their time cosying up to so-called "good employers".

You report that 25,000 BT workers are voting for strike action over management's attempts to make them do unsafe work in the hours of darkness. Twenty thousand Employment Service low-paid civil servants are balloting for action over a miserable pay offer of 2.7 per cent. Thousands of London tube workers are about to take their fourth period of strikes; fire-fighters on Merseyside have taken strike action against cuts that endanger life and limb.

John Monks's article is a pale reflection of this rising mood. He, along with all the other right-wing Labour and trade union leaders, has completely failed to organise this mood through offensive action to improve these conditions.

Incredibly, your editorial "Mr Monks goes militant" (12 September) says that this talk of militancy "might win a few more recruits" but that it is "a step too far to give them legal rights (that is the unions) to bargain collectively". Instead, they should only have the "legal right to represent their members individually", including their entitlement "to bring along their union official when discussing conditions of work, disciplinary issues or threatened redundancy". And what will the individual worker do when the boss ignores the pleas of a TU official?

As an individual there is very little. That is why millions of unorganised workers, given the chance, would join a trade union for the security that this gives to the individual worker.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Mullins

Industrial Organiser

Militant Labour

London, E9

12 September