Like most, I’ve done many jobs I hate and always felt a strong sense of alienation at work. Why is my boss yelling at me for making a mistake? Why am I being disciplined for complaining that my team is suddenly forced to do the work of another highly paid specialist-trained team, without receiving any training or extra pay? Why am I paid a pittance for this soul-destroying weekend job where I robotically click a mouse 3,500 times an hour?
I’ve also been a union member the majority of my working life and an active one most of that time. Working in unorganised industries or workplaces with union agreements but few active members meant I bounced from solitary confrontation to confrontation with bosses. My father always said workers need unions to defend their common interest and resist the tyrrany of the managerial classes and their masters. “But I am in the union” – I always thought, as I struggled to understand why despite this nothing ever changed for the better.
More recently, being the most outspoken among my workmates, I became an inexperienced delegate privy to collective agreement negotiations with no union training and no real support from the union officialdom. My convictions about the exploitation inherent in the profit making system meant I always went hard in meetings with management and constantly encouraged workmates to join the union. But without more experienced, politicised unionists educating fired up – though naive – young workers like myself about industrial strategy, negotiations floundered. Later as a paid Organiser in the same union, I came face to face with the empty void residing at the core of union politics where once I thought lay the heart and soul of the fighting working classes.
I joined the Socialist Party because our union leaders have failed the working class by failing to put the interests of the class ahead of the bosses’ drive for profits and implicitly supporting capitalism. Experience has shown me that we cannot overcome the tyrrany of capitalism without organisations – fighting unions and a mass workers party – that pose a genuine alternative to the profit making system and put people before profits. Through the Socialist Party I aim to struggle for those things.
By Ben Convey