The Role of the Unions Part 16: Hamid M to IDN

Notes on Trade unions

Workers need to understand that the organizational form and content of the union as a integral part of the capitalist mode of production is in contradiction with basic aim of any mass movement of workers in the course of a class struggle. Any real movement of workers is bearer of challenging the authority of the class society in the capitalist world. Regardless of how aware the engaged workers might be about this perspective of their movement in a given moment. Immediate demands can develop to a open class struggle, which means questioning the power of capital over the process of labor production, this in turn, can revolutionize the mind and heart of the workers to transform to a class.

The embedded tendency of capitalist system towards moving from relative extraction of surplus value to the absolute in the course of falling rate of profit, expresses itself with well know austerity program both on macro and micro economic plane: unemployment and downsizing the welfare state as a whole. This is where the trade union can appear and will be displayed by the rightist faction of ruling class as a hinder to move on with any capitalist reform program to deal with the economic crisis such as, budgetary issue downsizing or completely dismantling welfare state.

This is a true scenario globally applied by the existing order both in the center and periphery of its dominated world, thus through a force (wars…) or reform ( juridical, legislates…). The concrete affect of this is that workers and disposed masses are losing significant portion of their living standard if not their lives. The question of trade union rises in this confused and deceptive situation in the mind of workers in confronting the viscous assault of (stat)capitalism on them. The existence and support of trade union, as a part of welfare state, has been the difference on the living condition for workers, compare to working places with no trade unions.

Historically, the trade union has hardly been a revolutionary organ for the working class in confronting the bourgeoisie. The main difference in the functionality and definition of the trade union occur when Capitalism transforms from been an ascendance set of production ( facing pre-capitalist world) to a decadence (facing its own world); However, contrary to a leftist capitalist notion, the establishment and acceptance of trade unions took place within the modern society after a long and decisive battles of workers in fighting for the improvement of their living conditions. When and where ever the trade unions established initially by the help of states, mainly after II world war, again both in the center or the periphery of capital it was meant to buy social and industrial peace in advance.

Objectively, the reality based action/reaction of workers against the mighty power of capitalists will be to mould unionism with or into new forms in their fight in any initial stage of confrontation for defence or improvement of their living conditions, e.g. immediate goals. This process of application, test and verification of trade unionism by workers is a continues procedure particularly in the periphery of capitalist world where the class confrontations and contradictions are more visualised in term of, for instance, living conditions and standards. With other words, the workers construct a capitalist body in facing the capitalist power/employee to find out necessity of moving beyond this body by launching, for instance general strike or organising general assemblies and building committees, if they mange and decide to carry on and widen the course of class struggle. To understand the capitalist nature of the trade unions, workers need to realise this by their own experience in getting united and standing up in unity for immediate goals, and only then they can move beyond their own limits: which means developing needful level of consciousness to go farther than the trade union is able to show it for workers a revolutionary achievability; Thus the narrow field of trade union struggle widens into the broad field of class struggle, which can revolutionize the whole process of class struggle in way it will oblige workers in that moment to detect, discover and create new structures such vanguard, committees, councils... to combat the class enemy and its powerful state machinery.

In this period of open economic crisis, the workers are going to use what ever in their disposal or available for them, including the trade unions, to stand up against the capitalist attack on them. Internationalists can and most describe and define the capitalist nature and destructive limitations of trade unionism for the workers in movement, however they can never condemn workers for their decision and will to fight with in the limitations of trade unions for defending proletarian interest against the interest of capitalists. WE/workers need to fight to the bitter end, in order to learn how to fight to the better end.

Hamid M.

April 9, 2011

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