Rank and file

Taking on Crossrail

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Simon Basketter reports on an important step forward in the battle to rebuild union organisation across construction sites.

Frank Morris, an electrician sacked in a blacklisting case after raising health and safety concerns, won his job back last month. It was a stunning victory for union campaigning. Frank, a Unite union member, was dismissed over a year ago from London's Crossrail project, Europe's largest railway and infrastructure construction scheme.

The stamp of militancy

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One hundred years ago thousands of workers took part in what became known as the Great Dublin Lockout.

The Irish state postal service recently issued a series of stamps showing scenes from the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913. The stamps are very handsome, but this isn't the point. Rather it is the irony of the government issuing them being responsible for imposing the worst cuts in living memory on Irish workers. This shows how important it is to properly recall the memory of the events of 1913. For the lockout is not just the most important struggle of the Irish working class; it is also one of the most important industrial episodes in British history.

Start with solidarity

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Mark Bergfeld responds to Sandy Nicoll from last months issue on the Pop-Up Union at Sussex university. Here he argues that our starting point has to be solidarity

In recent months there have been major developments at Sussex University. Two of the main unions on campus (UCU and Unite) held consultative ballots, forcing the third union Unison into a corner. In a rigorous three-page questionnaire more than 85 percent of Unison members ticked the box calling for industrial action. And yet, there is no intention of going on strike.

Are "Pop-Up" unions the way forward?

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The emergence of the Pop-Up union at Sussex University has raised important debates about how to organise in the unions and how to address the inertia of the union officials.

Some argue that the Pop-Up union represents an innovative approach to overcoming the conservatism of the trade union bureaucracy (see, for example, the article by Mark Bergfeld in Ceasefire magazine http://tinyurl.com/nuqg4xt).

The Nasty, Meek and Militant: How to get the unions back in the fight

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The great potential of the 30 November strike is in danger of being frittered away after unions called off national strikes on 28 March. Martin Smith looks at why the pensions fight has hit a roadblock and how we can restart the fightback

I write this article on 28 March (M28), the day that around 70,000 teachers and lecturers belonging to the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the University and College Union (UCU) struck across London to defend their pensions.

Electricians dispute: sparks victorious!

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Electricians have won a stunning victory which should give hope to us all. After a six-month-long battle they have defeated the wage-cutting plans of multinational corporations

On 23 February electricians learned that the remaining companies committed to the British Engineering Services National Agreement (Besna) had withdrawn the threat of imposing the new contracts.

The "sparks" had been protesting since August last year when there was an inaugural rank and file dispute meeting of some 500 people in London. From day one there was a determination to get right up the noses of the electrical contracting bosses. Gate protests, street blockades, site occupations and picketing were the militant tactics employed on a weekly basis.

Pressure at the top

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The mass strike on 30 November struck a heavy blow against the government and its cuts agenda. But since then some union leaders have put the breaks on. Julie Sherry assesses the role of the trade union bureaucracy and looks at how workers can increase the pressure for more strikes

The fightback against the Tories' vicious attacks reached a magnificent level in November with the biggest strike in Britain since 1926.

The sheer scale of the action boosted the confidence of workers everywhere. To have close to a million workers on marches in towns and cities across the entire country, with over two million striking, was by any standard an incredible show of working class strength.

Construction lessons

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Electricians have been protesting for months against wage cuts and attacks on their terms and conditions. Last December workers took unofficial strike action. Simon Basketter looks at the background to this battle and the prospects for rebuilding union organisation on construction sites.

On a freezing Wednesday night on 7 December last year, a small group of men stand on a street in animated discussion. Every now and again, someone else joins their group and talks to them for a few minutes. After over half an hour, they decide to go to the pub. It was a small, but nonetheless significant event.

The minority movement

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As major industrial struggle seems set to make a return to Britain, Dave Sherry looks at the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary left during the period of intense class conflict which gripped Britain between the end of the First World War and the General Strike of 1926

In 1920 the best parts of the revolutionary left came together to form the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). It was soon put to the test.

Its first big challenge was the relationship between the "official" and "unofficial" wings of the trade union movement and how to work both with and against a newly emerging group of leftwing officials in the face of a deep recession and a vicious state offensive.

Postal dispute: delivering first class resistance to Royal Mail bosses

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With postal workers taking to the picket lines last month, Mark Dolan, a prominent CWU activist, writes about strikes, rank and file organisation and 30 years working in the post office

I left school at 16 and became a telegram boy for Royal Mail. When I got the job it was regarded as a bit of a privilege as it was part of the civil service. I was probably one of the last to join as a telegram boy. I used to deliver them on a pedal bike, then on a scooter. The idea was that when you were 18 you progressed to sorting letters on the shop floor and going out on deliveries.

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