by Steve Ryan
The recent right to work conference was apparently a great success with some 600 people attending, a demo in support of BA workers after and a call to demonstrate on 22nd June, Budget Day.
All very good, but steps towards a truly communist society surely should recognise that work in itself is not the be all and end all of life.
People need time and resources to fulfil their potential, and whilst there need to be work and planning in the future communist society this should not be based on continuing to squeeze more and more productivity out of workers. Something the trad Bolshevik left have missed, after all we might all get agitated about speed ups, Lean working etc… but Lenin introduced Taylorism and its mechanistic approach to production…and Trotsky quite fancied the militarisation of labour.
Fast forward to 2010 and what do we find? More scope than ever to substantially reduce the amount of time workers work due to unimagined advances in IT, the fact that that we are as a society richer than ever and hence well able to fund pensions etc.
But what do we get?
- Increases in retirement age
- Reduction of pensions (though not for the rich who on average retire early on mega bucks)
- Pressure to work longer hours, overtime resulting in UK workers working longer than certainly anyone else in the EU
- Anyone unable to work due to illness vilified , sacked….then forced back to work through draconian measures!
In the 21st century we should surely have the right not to work, to retire when we choose, to work less hours, have more leave , sabbaticals, if we are ill to be supported and helped,
All this is under attack: ‘work til you drop’ is the new mantra , and the tired old left is falling for it.
Short term we as communists should new agitating and fighting for not just resistance to job cuts and wages but:
- a reduced pension age to 50, releasing work for others
- pensions to be based on a living wage
- shorten the working week to 30 hours, spread out the work and benefits provided by IT to all, not just the bosses
- supportive action on illness and disability: where workers are unable to work they should receive a reasonable and liveable benefit
- support the call from Greens for a universal citizens’ income
- tax the rich, especially investments, to pay for above
Long term we must fight for a communist society based on workers’ self management to produce what is needed and recognize the right of all to self fulfillment and reaching their potential through a balance of work, rest and play.