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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Arthur Scargill Miners Union Leader


Arthur Scargill have been an individual demonised by Britain's mainstream media. Arthur Scargill was in Australia for the International Miners Conference. I interviewed him for the ABC's Triple J network's current affairs show, On The Nose, it went to air on March 22 1991. The full interview was broadcast on Sydney's Inner City public radio station, Radio Skid Row's Radio Solidarity Show.

Togs: Why do you think many young people aren't joining unions.

Arthur: There is an increasing view inside Britain, certainly by young people, that trade unions are not doing the job they previously did and that's not a surprise to me because trade unions in the past have been the focal point of resistance to government policies attacking jobs, communities and the standard of living including wage levels. Tragically its been adopted by many officials inside the trade union movement in Britain that we can do nothing to resist the Conservative government and it's policies and I describe these people as "New Realists "or, a better description is, that they're collaborationists. They believe you have to collaborate with the state in order to ameliorate the worst effects of the Tory government and its policies.

My view is that the trade union movement can only resist in one way and that's to say we don't accept those policies. We don't accept unemployment . We don't accept low wages for young people and we don't accept low wages even for young women. Because sex discrimination is still practiced there and I'm sure that 's the same practice, not only through Western Europe, but also, here in Australia as well.

Young people will only begin to come back to the trade union movement if, and when, they can perceive that the trade union movement is prepared to defend their interests when they are subject to mass attack. At the present time when we've got unemployment amongst young people in some cases well over twenty per cent in certain areas, it's little wonder they don't see what the trade union movement has done or can do and we need a massive education program and campaign, both to win young people over to the trade union movement and at the same time, to persuade those trade union leaders refusing to fight that they must fight and must resist, Tory government policies.

Togs: What do you think will happen to those trade unions and their leaders that refuse to fight?

Arthur:'l think that sooner, rather than later, in those unions that are refusing to confront this issue, workers themselves will say we've had enough and they'll begin to take action even though it will be described by the media as unofficial action.

Togs: With the Poll Tax, Hesiltine has actually moved legislation to get rid of it. What's your view on that ?

Arthur: The Poll Tax has been an unmitigated disaster not just for working people but, ironically, for the Tory Party as well. It's been seen by all concerned as an iniquitous tax, unfairly applied, and one which will certainly, if left in place, loose the Tories the next election. That's why they decided to scrap it. I'm not sure their new proposal will do anything to improve the situation and it seems, on face value, to be simply jumping out of the frying pan and into the proverbial fire. The irony is that the introduction of the Poll tax and its subsequent scrapping has cost both central and local government millions of pounds. It really has been a disaster.

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