Julie Sherry

Trade unions and Corbynism

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The low level of industrial struggle is in contrast to the huge political earthquake of Corbynism. How can socialists work within this contradiction, asks Julie Sherry

The events of Saturday 24 September summed up the key contradiction of the current political situation. As celebrations were breaking out at Corbyn’s triumph in the Labour leadership election, you caught a real feel for that huge mood for an alternative to austerity, and of the possibilities and opportunities for socialist politics in this moment. Scrolling down your news feed, that sense of jubilation was palpable.

Sunset Song

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Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song is a crushingly beautiful book that every socialist should read. Terence Davies’s beautiful film adaptation does the novel full justice.

Set in rural north east Scotland around the outbreak of the First World War, it couples a brutal realism — of back-breaking labour, women’s oppression and the devastation of war — with an incredible sense of the moments of beauty in life.

Confidence in the balance

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Workers face a massive challenge in taking on the Tories' anti-trade union bill. Julie Sherry draws the lessons from the steady trickle of victorious localised disputes.

The passing of the Tory Trade Union Bill — a fundamental assault on our right to strike — at its third reading in parliament on 10 November acted to focus the mind on the scale of the challenges ahead. The task of defending our unions and mobilising workers to fight the austerity onslaught just got more urgent.

Live debates played out on stage

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Made in Dagenham

Julie Sherry reviews the new musical telling of the Ford women's struggle

Made in Dagenham the film is excellent, but the collective experience of the musical — watching the performers live and alongside thousands of others — blurs the separation between a powerful but historical story and the live debates we are having in austerity Britain today.

This was amplified watching the show in a week in which some 700,000 workers, mainly women, had struck and 100,000 had marched over low pay. Sitting in the theatre you couldn’t help but wonder how many public sector workers were in the audience and how they might be feeling.

Radiographers and midwives join strikes

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The NHS unions have announced the next national strike date, Monday 24 November, for health workers across England. Unions taking part in the action are Unison, Unite, GMB, Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Society of Radiographers (SOR), UCATT, POA, British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT), British Dietetic Association (BDA), and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association.

This follows an announcement that health workers in Wales will strike on 10 November.

US workers strike for a living wage

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Fast Food striker

Julie Sherry joined a delegation from the British bakers’ union to support a day of strikes by US fast food workers in North Carolina.

The movement of thousands of fast food workers in a series of strikes, spanning 150 cities across the US, has captured the eye of the international media. It’s easy to see why. The movement symbolises something incredible — non-unionised workers, those on the lowest pay, many of them black, many of them parents living in poverty, who work in the most difficult conditions with no job security — have now lost their fear.

The strikes raise questions about the power of the working class today and the challenges facing the trade union movement.

Fighting Spirit

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Julie Sherry draws out the wider lessons of the spate of local disputes.

There is a frustrating contrast between the intensifying assault on workers by the government and employers and the lack of coordinated national resistance led by the unions. Yet in recent months we have seen a spate of militant and determined local strikes - some of which have won serious victories - that point to the potential for a wider fightback.

The successful strike by Hovis workers in Wigan last September, which defeated an attempt by bosses to introduce zero hours contracts, has not been an isolated example.

Taking the temperature

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The union conference season has just finished. Julie Sherry looks at the mood among the activists who hold union organisation together in workplaces across Britain and asks what we can learn about the prospects for resistance to the Tories and employers

Last month 4,000 people packed into London's Westminster Central Hall at the People's Assembly to discuss the need for an alternative to austerity. The Assembly's huge turnout is a reflection of a widespread and growing politicisation among working class people in the face of a Tory government out to savage the welfare state and workers' pay and conditions, while no alternative is posed by Labour.

As people flocked into the People's Assembly, the last of this year's union conferences had just ended.

When the Clyde Ran Red

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Maggie Craig

When the Clyde Ran Red gives a warm, detailed account of the Red Clydeside movement, but doesn't restrict itself to the period of the Great Unrest (1910 to 1919). It looks at history on the Clyde right through the 1926 General Strike, the "hungry 30s", the Second World War and the Clydebank Blitz, and touches on the 1970s Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation in the final chapter.

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