strikes

A year of hope and horror

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Looking back at the world of 2019 we can see examples of fantastic bravery and resistance in the face of fierce state repression, but also attempts by the right to gain ground. Sally Campbell asks what awaits us in the year to come.

This year Graffiti has appeared on walls from Hong Kong to Santiago reading, “We won’t return to normality, because normality was the problem.”

As a slogan it expresses well the predicament of the moment. For the past decade “normality” has meant misery for millions of people across the globe, as working class people and the poor were made to pay for the last economic crisis.

New sites of struggle in a changing China

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In a sobering and detailed analysis, Kevin Lin speaks to Adrian Budd about the resilience of workers’ struggles in China, despite fierce state repression.

The precarious working and living conditions of the millions of migrant labourers who have moved from rural to urban areas of China over recent decades made the development of an organised labour movement harder. Have the circumstances of these workers become more stable? Is their increased stability helping to develop class consciousness?

The strike that shook Glasgow to the core

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In the final part of her series on women workers in struggle, Jane Hardy talks to women who organised and took part in a successful strike over equal pay.

An explosion of anger from women council workers in Glasgow culminated in a two day strike in October 2018 that closed down the city. The women had run out of patience when the Scottish National Party (SNP) minority council failed to deliver on its promise of rectifying equal pay cases that had lasted over a decade.

Home care workers have shown the way to fight

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In the second part of her series on women workers, Jane Hardy celebrates the Birmingham home care workers’ inspiring fight.

Women have been at the frontline of austerity since the 2008 financial crisis. A TUC report showed that cuts in the public sector have meant falling wages, underemployment and casualisation. But care workers in Birmingham, mainly women, have taken on their bosses who have bullied them, tried to impose atrocious working practices, slash their wages and dismantle their service.

Striking back after the Trade Union Act

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With the Tories’ latest anti-union attacks set to become law,
Mark L Thomas argues that there are ways to initiate struggle that can help stregthen workplace organisation, and prepare for clashes to come.

The Tories’ new Trade Union Act, which passed through parliament last year, is due to come into legal effect this month. The new restrictions it contains, above all thresholds for strike ballots, will further curtail the legal space for strikes.

Gurley Flynn will be the boss

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The fourth part of our series on the Wobblies looks at the role of women in the workers’ and socialist movement.

Only 12 of the 200 delegates at the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were women, but they included the African American anarchist and veteran revolutionary Lucy Parsons. In her speech to the convention, Parsons urged all women to read August Bebel’s Marxist account of the position of women, Woman in the Past, Present and Future (first published in 1879).

China on Strike

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Anyone who is feeling a little demoralised and frustrated by the lack of strikes in the UK should add this book to their Christmas list, and then make sure they take some time out to read it.

Everyone knows about the booming Chinese economy, and many people know about the horrendous working conditions of those who have migrated from the countryside to the cities. There are two responses to alienating working conditions. One is the individual response which at best is walking out and at worst committing suicide.

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.

The gig economy and collective action

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The supposedly endless rise of precarity is not as straightforward as it seems.

Growing use of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) and the “gig economy”, in which people scrape together a living from fragments of work without being formally employed, are, we are often told, leading us on an endless march towards precarity and undermining workers’ capacity to fight.

But right now things look rather different. In April this year, following protests organised by Fast Food Rights and the Bfawu union, McDonald’s offered all its employees the option of moving off ZHCs.

Get ready to break the Trade Union Act

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“Strike to win”, “Unity is strength”, “Workers’ solidarity”. Old fashioned? Yes, but these trade union slogans have never been more relevant than today.

All of the above is enshrined in the ethos of the Grangemouth trade unions hub — where various unions across different sectors have joined forces. The hub was founded just after the Ineos dispute in 2013, in order to bring together refinery workers, dockers, rail workers and tanker drivers to give us more leverage during any future disputes.

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