By Workers Communist Party, APK, Denmark
This political platform “The work of the party within the working class, the workplaces and trade unions”. was adopted at the 9th Congress of our Party, APK, in September 2021, after a process of discussions within and around the party in preparation for the Congress.
The Congress made it clear that we are living in a time of upheaval at a rapid pace; where crises, wars, pandemics, climate destruction replace each other; where the class struggle in the capitalist class societies is increasing in scope and strength; at a time of new opportunities to work and fight for a completely different future and development than the one the employers, warlords and exploiters have laid out for us. The Congress passed a series of resolutions to strengthen the party in its efforts for a revolutionary path in the working-class struggle for a socialist Denmark.
For several months, a large movement among public employees to ensure a public health and welfare sector, for equal pay and better working conditions in these sectors, has been growing. Public-employee nurses have been on strike and taken action for more than four months and health workers have been protesting. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed how disastrously the public health and education sectors have in fact been eroded. In the face of this, the employers, the top leaders of the trade unions and the Social Democratic government are reinforcing their policy of austerity and attacks on the working class and its social rights and conditions.
To strengthen the party’s roots and influence in the working class, the 9th Congress adopted this platform.
The work of the party in the working class, the workplaces and trade unions
- The class struggle will intensify throughout society in these years, not least in the workplaces, in the social areas and in the so-called welfare areas of the public sector. There are protests against the intervention of the government in the collective agreements and agreed scenario for sham negotiations, against the consequences of the attacks by reforms and against the anti-worker policy of crisis and austerity. Workers and public servants must prepare and organise themselves for the struggles that are coming, as attacks on the workers and their living conditions increase.
- The crises and pandemics are being used as an excuse for new attacks on the professional and social rights that have been won. The bosses, capital and its state are driving wages, working conditions, and living conditions into a downward spiral. While the employers and big business have received many billions of dollars in capital, their part in exploitation and stocks and shares have reached new highs.
They will not stop until they face resistance from the other side of the class struggle – from the working class and the people. They know only one way out of their constant crises and competitions for markets: to make the working class and broad sections of the population pay through increased exploitation and the exploitation of our labour, as cheaply and efficiently as possible, regardless of the consequences. Labour is used, thrown away, and new labour is brought in.
- The demands for jobs, higher wages and equal pay, for education, social rights, and housing for all are central demands put forward together with the rejection of the bosses’ policy of successive governments. If we accept the financial negotiating frameworks of what can be achieved and agree to share the deterioration among ourselves, this leads to defeat for the majority and bonuses for the few. The employers have long since blown away the framework for how far they want to go in the so-called” new normal” labour market. Already, large groups are grossly underpaid, working hours have been made more flexible and work pressures increased. With a rapidly changing labour market, it is essential to blow away the fixed economic framework and make the business owners pay.
- As at the beginning of the labour movement, it has once again become necessary to raise a struggle for elementary rights such as the right to organize and to collective agreements in both private and public spheres, not the least among the growing large groups of “modern day labourer” who work without rights, without fixed pay, without fixed working hours, in so-called SMS (text messages) jobs. And among the migrant workers who live and work under slave-like conditions, which the bourgeois class courts say is perfectly legal in the EU’s “free” labour market.
- The State does not play a neutral role, neither as a public employer nor as a so-called third party between the employers and the workers and employees. This has been evident not least in the negotiations of collective agreements in the public sector, where professional groups that have followed all the legal rules of state and the labour markets to put forward their demands, have been thrown from a “no” by the chief trade union leaders and to a “no” by the government and politicians as they went down that path. Subsequently, if they themselves say no to a rotten offer and take action, it is ruled illegal.
- This development and the last several collective agreements and conflicts show that the class struggle cannot be waged under the conditions of the bourgeois state, the employers, or the power of capital. The “Danish model” is a model of class collaboration to the advantage of the employers and their state, and it has failed to achieve results. The same goes for “the triparty agreements” between the employers, state, and the heads of the trade union movement.
- The Main Agreement in the labour market and the professional law system, the rules linking votes on collective agreements in a total pool (so no single union can vote it down and go on legal strike) and the muzzle elected representatives, are tools for the protection of the employers. This is done to twist the arms of the workers and employees who want change and fight for their demands. It must be discussed in workplace clubs and trade unions how the work struggles can get passed these class rules. There is a growing political line developing based on class struggle, despite and right through the political bankruptcy of class collaboration and the restricting legal and contract class system.
- The capitalist state is a class state that is designed and acts as the prolonged arm of capital. This also applies to its violent part, where police are deployed against blockades and picket lines while protecting scabs. Numerous labour struggles have shown this.
- Capitalism as a social system has shown time and time again that it is neither able to solve its recurring crises nor ensure a safe and stable everyday life and future for the working class.
The role of the working class and its party
- The working class is the fundamental force of the revolution. It is the leading and fundamental force in the fight against capitalism and the dominance of capital. It is the unskilled, the low paid, the lower sections of the working class and the most pressured strata of the workers and employees in the public sector, who are the most combative strata, as well as workers in sectors such as transport and construction.
The communist party’s most important effort is its work within the working class: to strengthen the ideological, political, and organizational relations, and to develop the working class into the leading political force in society and into the political reference for the other classes and strata of working people and oppressed groups.
- The strategic task of the communist party is to organize the revolution. This is crucial to build a socialist Denmark where it is the working class who has taken power. It is with this in mind that the Workers Communist Party, APK, participate in the daily class struggle in workplaces, in trade unions and among the working-class groups who are excluded from the traditional labour market and organization.
The professional struggle and social struggle of the working class cannot be narrowed down to a battle for dollars and cents. We are seeing how quickly achievements can be rolled back if the day-to-day struggle is not associated with the fight for the long-term interests of the working class for a different future, with the strengthening of unity on the political line of class struggle and the development of the political revolutionary consciousness of the working class.
The trade union movement today and the labour aristocracy
- For the working class, it is essential to fight for the right to organize and form trade unions. Today, this right is under severe pressure and liquidation from the anti-labour policies of the European Union and Danish politicians. The trade union movement has evolved far from its original roots as a safeguard against the capitalist employers and for the interests of the working class. This development has led to the service and insurance enterprise groups with large billion-dollar funds and financial groups that we see today.
- The myth of the Danish one-stringed trade union movement (with no organisational different political trade unions, like in some countries) is only a shell to hold up the “Danish model” and triparty negotiations between the employers, state, and the chief trade unions leaders. Politically, there is a great distance from the members’ demands and wishes for action to the actions of the top leadership of the trade unions. From the beginning there have existed two political lines in the labour and trade union movement: between class struggle and class collaboration, between a reformist and a revolutionary policy.
Organizationally, too, the myth does not hold water, with the declining degree of organization in trade unions (in Denmark it has declined from 80-90% in many sectors down to about 50% in the last decades) and the emergence of “yellow” unions (with bosses and workers in the union) and Christian so-called trade unions. This is besides the fact that the traditional trade union movement has excluded large groups of the working class from the large growing unofficial labour market from being members.
At the same time, the heads of the trade union movement have closed their eyes to the social rights and conditions of the workers and the whole range of anti-worker and anti-social reforms, from unemployment benefits, sick benefits, social benefits to the rising retirement age. The governments of the employers are cutting social benefits ever further, so that the minimum wage can be squeezed and lowered.
- It is not without reason that many workers and public servants find that the national federal trade union, FH, sells out their demands, slows down protests and activity and ends up on the employers’ side. The trade union heads and their paid staff form a special layer –the labour aristocracy. They are able to live a very different life with lucrative salaries, pensions and jobs that are in sharp contrast to the conditions of the union members. Because of the special economic position of the labour aristocracy and their social position and influence, the class interests of this layer are linked to the interests of the employers and to the preservation of capitalist society.
- This is why it is not possible to change the policies and actions of the labour aristocracy through dialogue. Illusions about this layer as an ally or actually as leaders in the class struggle are a recipe for defeat. Many combative workers have run head-on against this wall, in the struggles for central collective agreements, local conflicts and interdisciplinary battles such as equal pay for working-class women.
- It is not possible to change the trade union system in its present form to organizations of class struggle. The systems of the trade union movement today are tied by a thousand threads to the bourgeois capitalist state. A fighting trade union movement on the grounds of class struggle can only be created when all these ties have been severed.
It is necessary for the fighting working class and public servants to come together, organize and build a strong unity and solidarity on this ground; to utilize the space for action that basic trade union organization across professions can provide, to develop class solidarity and combative will, and to challenge the many limitations that professional law and the agreement system place on the forms of struggle. An opposition within the trade unions must be built at the basic level on a line of class struggle.
- Part of the reformist trade union movement’s policy has always been that the professional struggle is apolitical and must be locked in that box, even though we live in a capitalist society that wages political, ideological, and economical class struggle every single day against the working class. Industrial action and professional struggles are also political struggles, but not on the line to divide the workers on a party level, or not to be abused or misled into thinking that a solution is to vote for “the right party” at the next election. When assessing the impact of the policies of successive governments, it is more than difficult to tell the difference between the colours of these government. The Social Democrats, when in power, have also been at the forefront of harsh anti-social reforms, austerity crisis policy, and government interventions in collective bargaining.
- The basis for the development of each struggle, for a situation in which a broad revolutionary movement rises, is the political and ideological unity of the working class. This unity must be forged in the concrete class struggle, in the discussion on current demands and forms of action and on the strategic platform of the working class. It must be built from below in workplaces, in trade unions clubs, in local communities. It must involve the unity between private and public workers and employees, those who have jobs, the unemployed and those forced to work on social benefits, the migrant workers, and across professional groups, ethnicities and genders. Problems such as work time, unequal pay, wage dumping , meaning the collective agreed wages are lowered/dump by hiring cheaper labour for example by subcontracting and social and professional rights must be solved jointly.
- The solidarity of the working class must always be specifically involved, developed, and strengthened in order to use the common strength of the class. By extending the economic struggle to a political struggle with common demands placed on those responsible, unity and solidarity can be built and strengthened. Local and individual negotiations and “free-choice” arrangements are designed to make each person feel alone and isolated, while the collective strength of the working class and public servants is the way forward. In the event of conflicts and strikes, support committees must be set up locally and at workplaces to help spread solidarity and provide financial assistance if strike funds of the trade union are shut off and the professional court law imposes fines.
- The labour movement must work for and organise the unity of all the social forces and sectors interested in fighting for their material and political demands and in combating bourgeois exploitation and the dominance of imperialism.
- The international solidarity of the working class will always be at the heart of the work of the working class and its Communist Party, specifically, among the growing number of employees distributed in many countries working in the same multinational groups. There must be concrete and active solidarity with the many struggles that workers all over the world are facing against the consequences of neoliberal reforms, against capitalist and imperialist exploitation and oppression, against wars and destruction of resources and for opportunities for survival, and for a socialist future.
Workers Communists Party, APK. 9th Congress, September 2021