On 20 October the Lib/Tory government will announce cuts which they have already estimated as between 25% and 40% across a range of social spending.
These are cuts such as we did not see even in Thatcher's day, cuts which will take the means of decent life away from millions.
Even if they don't create a "double-dip" slump for the whole economy, they will certainly bring a "double-dip" to working-class communities.
Across the country, people will resist the trashing of their local services, schools, hospitals, and benefits.
Across the country, activist anti-cuts committees are already being set up by Trades Councils.
To defeat the whole government programme, we need concerted action by the trade unions. That is why working-class people build and sustain trade unions: so that when troubles come they have organisations strong and big enough to resist on the scale necessary.
But the TUC's top leaders are acting more in the spirit of the former Labour Government ministers, Alan Milburn and John Hutton, who, without quitting the Labour Party or signing up as Tories, have taken jobs as "advisers" to the Lib/Tory government.
The TUC talked of calling a demonstration on 23 October, a quick response to the cuts which will be announced on 20 October. Now it has decided only to run a small-scale lobby of Parliament on 19 October.
Left-wing unions will try at the TUC Congress, starting 13 September, to get the 23 October demo up again, but top TUC leaders say any such action should wait until spring 2011.
The ETUC, the consortium of unions from all across Europe, has called a "no cuts" day of action on 29 September. There will be a general strike that day in Spain, a big demonstration in Brussels, and action in other countries. Except in Britain, where the TUC says it's too soon.
TUC leaders tried to invite Tory prime minister David Cameron to speak to TUC congress. Trade unionists protested. Cameron got the TUC leaders off the hook by politely inventing excuses that he couldn't come. The TUC invited Cameron's Lib-Dem minister Vince Cable.
In the end TUC leaders had to withdraw Cable's invitation because they could see that his appearance on the congress platform would - rightly - bring uproar from the floor.
Now they are trying a similar approach behind the scenes. The Independent of 21 August reported talks "beneath the radar" between TUC leaders and Cameron, by way of Richard Balfe, a former Labour politician who defected to the Tories in 2002.
Many areas of life are supervised by boards, committees, or quangos in which union representatives work chummily with Government representatives. In industry, many unions are still locked into the "social partnership" approach ("shared commitment to business goals") pushed by the TUC in 1997-9.
Unions must not be "partners" in cutting their own members' jobs and services! The union leaders should break off that whole web of collaboration with bosses and Government, and set their sights on mobilising to defeat the cuts.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow is right:
“The TUC has to be the launch-pad for the fight back against the coalition Government’s decision to unleash all out class warfare through their unprecedented attack on our communities, public services, welfare state and transport system. Our defence must be built on generalised strike action and community resistance in the biggest public mobilisation since the anti-poll tax movement.
“As well as setting out plans for our own co-ordinated industrial and community action we also send a message of solidarity to our comrades in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and elsewhere who are fighting similar cuts to jobs, standards of living and public services.”