Anti-austerity movement

Brown's Britain: the faultlines deepen

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Recent months have seen fierce industrial disputes, with workers challenging the government and the bosses. Michael Bradley argues that this resistance can shape a future fightback

Photo: Guy Smallman

We're moving into a new phase of the struggle. Over the last couple of years we have gone through several distinct stages. First was the onset of the recession in 2008 which effectively knocked sideways the pay revolt in the public sector. Secondly, after a series of horrible defeats like the job losses at Woolworths and Cowley, we saw the development of a movement of working class resistance.

'No self-restraint' - Greek workers striking

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The working class in Greece is entering March in a very militant mood.

Two days of national industrial action in February and several sectors staging consecutive 48-hour strikes have created a strong momentum.

This has not been a self-evident development. Only last December the Greek TUC refused to call for any action against the government's austerity budget. The ascendance of Pasok (the Greek equivalent of Labour) to power in October after five years of Tory governance seemed to foster conditions for consent between the trade union bureaucracy and the new government.

Greek expectations for the left

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It is not very often that governments decide to commit political suicide, but that is exactly what the ruling conservative party of New Democracy did when they called a snap election in Greece last month only to lose by a margin of 10 percent.

New Democracy was plunged into a massive crisis. Nineteen of their 23 original cabinet members were wiped out. Kostas Karamanlis, the leader and former prime minister, is retiring and the four contenders for his succession cannot agree on the way a new leader will be chosen.

Karamanlis called the election because, in his own words, the economy needed a package of "tough and unpopular measures" but the political climate did not permit it. What he meant by "political climate" was the fear of a new uprising like the one that shook Greece last December.

Letter from Greece

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Anger at the government's neoliberal policies and police brutality has electrified Greece, reports Giorgos Pittas.

Millions of workers took part in the 10 December general strike. The whole country was paralysed as people demonstrated in Athens and other cities against the right wing New Democracy government, shouting, "Down with the murderers."

On 6 December police killed 15 year old Alex Grigoropoulos in cold blood as he played with his friends in the Exarcheia neighbourhood of Athens. The police claimed a ricocheted bullet killed the kid. But witnesses claim that it was murder.

Trade unions - the need for unity and fightback

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The scale of the crisis, and the avalanche of job losses, underlines the need for the working class to fight. This is why it was so disappointing to see two unions that have led the resistance, the teachers' NUT and the civil service's PCS, turn away from strikes earlier this month.

The immediate issue at stake was a response to Gordon Brown's pay curbs in the public sector. The NUT executive decided that a 52 percent vote for action was not enough. Within hours, the government had authorised talks with the PCS over the pay issues which led to a strike planned for 10 November. Again, the executive decided to suspend action.

In both cases Socialist Workers Party members on the executives voted for strikes, against the majority.

Credit crunch: A winning formula?

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The credit crunch has wiped £600 billion - more than £1 million a minute - from Britain's total wealth in the past year.

According to a recent set of figures, which seem almost impossible to take in, these losses are caused largely by falls in the value of houses and shares. They begin to highlight the scale of the economic crisis which is upon us and which shows every sign of getting much worse before it gets better.


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