Cuba and the unions

Submitted by Matthew on 9 March, 2011 - 2:25

An article on the front page of the Communication Workers’ Union website proclaims that it is now “more important than ever” to make solidarity with Cuba.

A lengthy piece reporting on the visit of the new Cuban ambassador to the CWU’s National Executive Committee quotes CWU leader Billy Hayes in his affirmation that “the achievements of Cuba are an inspiration.”

Presumably he means the impressive healthcare system and literacy rates, but one wonders what the union has to say about Cuba’s less “inspiring” “achievements” — its one-party state, its lack of free press, its ban on independent workers’ organisation, its recent sacking of 500,000 public sector workers and, most recently, its steadfast support for Colonel Qaddafi in his attempt to massacre his own people.

One might also wonder why Egypt’s new trade unions, or indeed the Libyan uprising itself, are not given similar attention when their need for solidarity is surely greater.

Socialists in the CWU will feel galled by the fact that their leaders are prepared to proclaim the need for “solidarity” with “socialist Cuba” despite the realities of the country’s regime and even while they sit on attempts to build working-class militancy (the raw ingredient of real socialism) at home.

The uncritical support of trade union leaders for Cuba shows the extent to which Stalinism is still ingrained in the political DNA of the British labour movement leadership, and how much that leadership needs changing.

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