Patrick Harrington writes
“A downtrodden class… will never be able to make an effective protest until it achieves solidarity” (H.G. Wells).
The Third Way is backing a radical new Union called Solidarity. The Union was registered with the trades union Certification officer just before Christmas. Patrick Harrington who serves on the National Executive of Third Way and is also General Secretary of Solidarity explains why a radical new force in the workplace is needed
Already the ‘hate-machine’ is creaking into gear against our new Union Solidarity. ‘Searchlight’ magazine has described it as “a scab union and a front for the BNP”. This is to be expected and more of the same will be directed at us. These careerists and professional liars are stung by the turn of events. Predictably they have responded with childish insults and false allegations. We shall answer their lies with Truth.
While it is certainly correct that the BNP has supported the foundation of Solidarity so too has the Third Way. Those from the BNP involved were active Trade Unionists kicked out of the Unions they had loyally served for political reasons. We expect others to follow our lead into the new Union. My personal reason for arguing the case so strongly within Third Way can be traced to the fact that I was unjustly expelled from the RMT Union as part of a BNP witch-hunt. As no BNP members could be identified within the RMT I was substituted due to my membership many years ago of the National Front. This was despite the fact that the Third Way (which I helped form) is a progressive organisation which eschews racism in any form. It also ignored my personal record of opposition to discrimination in any form over many years. I therefore had an interest in seeing the creation of a new Union which would not exclude any on grounds of political, religious or ethical belief. I was also disgusted at the corruption revealed by the underhand methods used against me by RMT bureaucrats and the egotism and disregard for principles of Natural Justice displayed by their General Secretary Bob Crow and his cronies.
I helped write the Constitution of Solidarity. I take pride in the fact that it clearly states that it will: -
“resist and oppose all forms of institutional union corruption” and “promote freedom within and without the Trades Union movement, protecting and promoting freedom of belief, thought and speech, irrespective of political and religious affiliation or creed”.
The very name of the Union speaks of a desire to act as a unity, as a whole (French solidarit�, from solidaire, interdependent, from Old French, in common, from Latin solidus, solid, whole). Solidarity will represent a union of interests, purposes, and sympathies among members – a true fellowship of responsibilities and interests. I will work alongside Communists, Socialists, Conservatives, British Nationalists, English Nationalists, and Scottish Nationalists – even members of New Labour! I expect that members will come from all religious and ethnic backgrounds as the radical message of our Union is for everyone. The only criterion for me is that everyone who joins shares our passion to build a Union to represent and better the conditions of all workers. Our Union must above all be a fighting Union.
The best answer, however, to the accusation that Solidarity is a “BNP front” is to recruit as widely as possible. An ambitious recruitment campaign is planned. Solidarity will not be applying to affiliate to the TUC. We believe, after all, that there should be only one Union. Consequently we will not have to worry about their rules which restrict “poaching” of members from one Union to another. We will be making the case as to why existing members of different Unions should join Solidarity. We will advertise our Union on the web, through leaflets, posters, and advertisements – everywhere. Solidarity activists have a missionary zeal to build the one Union.
The second charge leveled at our Union by the ‘lie-machine’ that we are a “scab” Union is scarcely worthy of answer. Yet answer it I will. I have never crossed a picket line and never would. I served as a Union official within the RMT and represented and assisted all those who came to me honestly. Solidarity exists to promote the rights and interests of its members and workers generally. As an Executive member of Solidarity I expect any member to support industrial action once decided on by our brothers and sisters even if in other organisations – just as I would expect them to support us if it came to it.
Solidarity is unusual in that it is not based on a specific industry sector. It is open to workers in all sectors and professions. I studied the idea of ‘One Big Union’. The concept is not new it has been put forward before (most notably by the IWW and CNT). I believe that the division of workers into separate Unions based industrial or economic sectors is a weakness. Solidarity will be able to call on its members in any sector to support one another. It will be able to apply its resources where needed.
Solidarity Trade Union is here and here to stay. We shall overcome and rebut attacks from any quarter. We have ambitious plans to build our infrastructure and offer a variety of services to members. Many will be surprised by how much planning, analysis and work has already been done. We also have many experienced Union officials and members ready to join. We will be well able to represent our members at disciplinary hearings, take up Health and Safety issues and put forward views on Pension rights. We shall work toward being involved in the collective bargaining process in any workplace where we have members.
I urge all Third Way members to join Solidarity and help build a radical, fighting Union. Solidarity welcomes all British workers, contractors and consultants from any background.
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