The British Trades Union Congress is facing one of its greatest crises. Threatened from the?
The British Trades Union Congress is facing one of its greatest crises. Threatened from the outside by the Government's Industrial Relations Bill, its power to lead Britain's trade unions against the Bill is being undermined from the inside by the leaders of two of its most powerful members.
Hugh Scanlon, President of the Engineers Union, and Jack Jonas, General Secretary of the Transport Workers, have called a national one - day strike against the Bill for this Thursday (18th March). This is in defiance of the Trades Union congress (TUC). The General Secretary of the TUC, Mr. Vic Feather, while also strongly opposing the Bill, has emphasised that the official union campaign will be based on propaganda and publicity, not strikes. And on the same day as the unofficial strike, the TUC will hold an emergency Congress to decide its own strategy.
All the Union leaders oppose the Bill. But they are divided in the form their opposition should take. This Thursday will highlight the split in Britain's labour movement.
The failure of the TUC to fulfill its mandate as the vice of Britain's 10 million trade unionists has been clear for some time. In the 1969 dispute with the Labour Government over their attempt to introduce legislation to curb the power of the unions, Mr. feather and the Prime Minister, Mr. Feather and the Prime Minister, Mr. harold Wilson, reached a Gentleman's agreement. The Government would drop its bill, and the TUC would reduce the number of strikes. However, the rise in strikes since then has shown that while the TUC can make promises on behalf of the unions, it cannot get them to keep them.
This production shows the background to the present tension within the British trade union movement -- and the effect this has had on the British economy.