by Alberto Durango, a Colombian cleaner activist whose involvement in militant organising initiatives has earned him the wrath of sub-contractor cleaning companies and the Unite union bureaucracy alike. Leerlo en castellano.
There are very few means by which the working class can arm itself with a political tool which educates the class and helps it fight the crooks who, disguised as its defenders, betray it, sell it out and make deals over its interests with the bosses. With this tribune I want to contribute something, so that those workers who come across this information might use it as a starting point for directing a discussion about the trade union bureaucracy, this great enemy of the working class, so that they can organise to combat it. First of all therefore we have to understand what characterises the trade union bureaucracy.
The trade union bureaucracy does not practice democracy among the workers. It does not consult the workers affiliated to the union, or those being represented, on its actions, attitudes and decisions, but always reaches deals with the bosses on the backs of the workers. The union bureaucracy conducts its discussions with the bosses and collective agreements without witnesses in flash restaurants: or for less important problems, in the bosses’ offices, behind closed doors. They sign deals and contracts without workers’ participation.
The trade union bureaucracy terrorises union members. When workers criticise them they are hounded, threatened and intimidated, and subjected to psychological terrorism: or else they make sure they are put out of work. The bureaucracy is the enemy of workers’ assemblies and participation on the part of the workers.
The trade union bureaucracy does not itself organise, nor does it allow the workers to fight, and when it does allow an action on the part of the workers it is because it feels pressured. When the demands are sufficiently justified and it fears the workers will supersede it, then it acts as a straitjacket. In other cases when the bureaucracy allows an action on the part of the workers it is simply to exact pressure on the boss so that the latter caves to the bureaucracy’s own desires. The bureaucracy always seeks to contain workers’ struggles, telling the workers not to fight and to maintain an atmosphere of peace and harmony, accepting the norms and conditions imposed by the bosses.
The trade union bureaucracy is demagogic, always offering things to the workers it never delivers on. It sells out the workers, as it is bought-off and corrupted by the privileges and bribes it receives in return. They also participate in labour inspectorates. If your union leaders behave in anyway like this, well, that is bureaucracy for you. The first task we as workers have is to fight them and kick them out of our unions. With this statement, we take sides with all workers ready to begin a fight to kick these parasites out of our unions.