Sylvestre McLaren’s article “Wanted: a Party of the Working Class ” and Joanne DeFreitas’ “EGOS AT THE DOOR” raises critical and fundamental issues in relation to the formation and building of a true working class Party.
It also presents an opportunity to rescue the trade union movement from an embarrassing and politically dangerous partnership that has done harm to working people and has the potential to further weaken the trade union movement.
The MSJ is not a working class party as no such party for workers will ever enter into an alliance or partner with pro-big business political parties comprised of individuals with a history of anti-worker and corrupt practices.
Further, these parties are supported and funded by the wealthy classes in Trinbago and have historically served these ruling elites while working people have had to struggle to get a small share of the national pie.
The MSJ is out of alignment as demonstrated by its inability to effect any meaningful change that benefits workers, farmers and other working people. The fact is, the MSJ has no influence far less power in the PP Government and has only served to give working people a false sense of being represented in government.
The MSJ’s hurried formation on the eve of the May 24 general elections was clearly not based on the need to form a working class party to contest the elections. That objective was impossible in a time span of a few weeks. It is obvious that a few persons saw an opportunity to be in government and used the trade unions to achieve their ambition. It was on the cards that the PNM would be defeated on May 24, 2010.
Let us face the facts: MSJ was not formed to be a working class party. It was formed to serve a few opportunist elements using the trade unions for personal gain. Hence the reason the MSJ finds itself tied in and perceived as part of the traditional corrupted political elite. Therefore, the points raised and the headline in Sylvestre McLaren’s article “Wanted: A Working Class Party” are absolutely correct and most appropriate.
The MSJ has put itself in a politically embarrassing position and found itself bound by the policies of the PP Government. Two of the many examples of MSJ being tainted by its participation in the PP Government are the declaration of the State of Emergency and the wage suppression policy.
These two measures imposed heavy social hardships, brutality and economic punishment on working people: the very people the MSJ claims to represent. By declaring that it represents workers while being part of anti-worker oppression and repression, the MSJ has seriously affected its credibility and its claim to be a defender of working people.
The role of the MSJ in the PP Government has become untenable. It is giving workers a sense of being used and betrayed. While the trade unions struggle against the PP government’s anti-working people policies on the streets of Trinbago, trade union leaders of the MSJ, representing the government in parliament, vote to implement these very measures that hurt their members.
The futility and powerlessness of the MSJ in the Peoples Partnership is exemplified by the inability to effect a just settlement for TCL workers and the occupation of farmers’ lands by the PP Government.
Joanne DeFreitas in her article on the MSJ “EGOS AT THE DOOR” raised the critical and fundamental issues of filling leadership positions and democracy, philosophy, vision, mission, constitution, manifesto, strategic/action plan, resources/funding and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). These are all fundamentals in any serious organization, more so, a political party contesting to take power from the ruling elites.
Previous political experience informs us who have shied away from the MSJ that hegemonic and elitist leaders disregard rank and file workers and see themselves as having the right to determine the leaders and have the membership rubber stamp the leaders’ decisions at formal meetings.
The democratic principle never applies in choosing the leadership so that the MSJ change of leadership style is not new. That is the history of the small core of leaders and that is why past attempts at forming a workers’ party have been fraught with conflict.
MSJ can have no philosophy, vision, mission or any of the fundamentals mentioned in Joanne DeFreitas’ article. It was not formed to be a working class party but to be a vehicle to serve the political ambitions of a few. Planning and action plans also were, therefore, never a consideration or a desire.
There is urgent need for a party to serve the interests of working people in Trinbago. However, it is my view that MSJ is not that party. The reason for its birth was not meant to promote, defend and advance the political, economic and social interests of the working masses. It cannot be what it was not meant to be. It has also been discredited and tainted by its association with the decadent political elites.
In the light of the conflict with the PP Government, members of the MSJ should call on their leaders for an internal debate on the issues raised by Joanne DeFreitas. Of course the debate about building a working class should involve all working people, the unions, other organizations and Individuals.
A working peoples’ party must be legitimised by a broad cross section of Trinbago, with the workers and farmers unions being the base of the party and providing the strength, mass appeal, geographic spread and protection for the weaker sections of the society.
It must not be an extension of the trades and farmers unions but for their own interests must be supported by the unions’ leadership and its membership. The trade unions and farmers unions provide a service to their members and defend and promote their interests at the work sites.
They are limited in scope and cannot and must not be a political party. They are economic organizations engaged in representation, mass action, protests and strikes in defence of their members. In the absence of a representative political party, trade unions are forced to perform political action and political representation at the expense of serving its members.
The working peoples’ party is broader than the unions and promote and protect the political, economic and social interests of all working people such as workers, small farmers, small business people, vendors, the unemployed and working People generally. It is a national political organization designed to take political power to serve the broader interests of working people.
Let the Debates on the Workers’ Party continue!