Trade Union Bureaucracy

Adam Rose adam at
Mon Nov 20 07:03:29 MST 1995

Steve Wallis:
> i) "some in leading positions in trade unions (they are not all bureaucrats)"
> He is making an underhand attack on Militant Labour, since some of our
> members are in leading positions (though not leading an entire trade union).

Actually, I wasn't. When I want to attack the role of Militant Trade Union
Officials, I will, and I will do so explicitly.

I was explaining why I think that the fundamental difference
is between the rank + file and the Trade Union Bureaucracy, not between right
officials and their supporters and left officials and their supporters.

Steve, if you disagree with this, say so.

> >
> > As a result of this essential nature, it is an absolute certainty that the
> > Labour Party "will shift significantly to the left in the future".
> > Because the Labour Party is a Capitalist Workers Party, it reflects, albeit
> > in a distorted from, the moods in the working class. This is precisely why
> > it is neccessary to build a left alternative to it : it is the left
> > reformists who get a militant working class back on constitutional rails,
> > not the right.
> >
> I suppose the left alternative you are pushing for would have your analysis
> of the class nature of the former Soviet Union and Cuba today. Yecchh!

Don't just slag me off - take up my argument.
I could descend to your level by calling you a semi reconstructed Stalinist -
but that would be pointless.

"it is the left reformists who get a militant working class back on constitutional rails,
not the right."

Right or wrong ?

Scargill has not denounced Bill Morris, the dockers union leader, for not supporting
the Liverpool dockers. Is this an oversight, or does this stem from Scargill's role as a
Trade Union Bureaucrat ?

Scargill wants the Socialist Labour Party, like the Labour Party, to
win the affiliations of national Trade Unions. Will this hamper the
SLP's members ( if it ever exists ) to critisize the leaders of that
union or not ?

> Sounds like Scargill is doing the right thing. This SLP might turn out to
> be a party in the mold of the Worker's Party in Brazil, started by another
> militant trade unionist, Lula. I like Lula, I like Scargill. Long live
> left-wing worker's parties that have no positions on the Spanish Civil War,
> the class nature of the former USSR, Kronstadt, etc.!

If Scargill had led a split from the Labour Party in 1984-5, your comparison
would be reasonable. As it is, it just doesn't match reality. Not a single
MP has spoken up for him. Not a single national trade union figure, not even
a regional official ( as far as I know ) has spoken out.

However, your example is a good one to illustrate the general trend :
the PT started as a  working class party associated with a new , militant
working class movement and, while it still has its working class roots,
is now quite obviously a reformist party ie it is committed to running
the capitalist system - so municipal workers in San Paulo have had to strike
against the PT administration to win reforms ( or even maintain what they
already have ).

Should these strikes be encouraged by revolutionaries or not ? When their
PT union leaders try to sell out or wind down the action against the PT
council, should these union leaders be critisized or not ? Should it be
isolated individuals critisizing, or an organisation ? Should this
organisation simply exist when such a strike arises and then disolve
itself, or should it try to win people to a general understanding of,
amongst other things, reformism and the trade union Bureaucracy ?


Adam Rose

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