strikes

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.

Signs of recovery

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The junior doctors' dispute has combined with teachers’ anger and the Tory crisis to present new opportunities

The government has stumbled into a key trial of strength with junior doctors, who by the end of April had taken five rounds of escalating strikes, including a full walkout without cover. As the BBC’s health correspondent wrote after the full walkout, “this is going to be a fight to the bitter end…both sides have been briefing about how determined they are not to give ground. But who will break first? Ministers or doctors?” The answer will have far reaching consequences.

FE: not just a one day wonder

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Further Education lecturers in Scotland won a stunning victory in March after just one day of planned all-out strike action. Lecturers' union activists Donny Gluckstein and Penny Gower draw out the lessons we can all learn from their methods of organising.

In October 2014 the Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA), a semi-autonomous section of the EIS teachers’ union in Scotland, called for national bargaining to bring equal pay to the level of the highest paid college. In March 2016 strike action began and after just one day these demands were won, along with a pay rise for all and no deduction for striking. By 2019 wages will have risen by 11 percent on average, with the lowest paid lecturers seeing an increase of at least 33 percent. We need to learn the lessons.

Junior docs strike again

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Junior doctors announced three 48 hour strikes as SR went to press: 9 to 11 March, 6 to 8 April and 26 to 28 April. As this comes after the imposition of the new contract it is a significant escalation.

A poll found 66 percent of people in England support for junior doctors’ strikes, with 41 percent saying they are strongly supportive. Only 16 percent of people say they oppose the walkout.

The BMA will also launch a judicial review as the government failed to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment before making the changes.

Solidarity is on call

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Junior doctors voted by a staggering 98 percent to strike over working hours. Doctor Ron Singer explains the long term issues and BMA activist Yannis Gourtsoyannis talks about the campaign.

The proposed strike by junior doctors is only the second in NHS history. The first was in 1975 over hours of work — then a usual 120 hours a week. The government does not think that the NHS works 24/7. The call for a “full” seven days a week service needed a way round the current junior doctor contract.

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.

We learned to be bold

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After over 100 days of strike action National Gallery workers voted to return to work last month having won nearly all their demands. Socialist Review and five strikers discussed the lessons learned.

When did you all join the union?

Patrick: Nine years ago!

Eva: I can’t remember if it was before the first strike or not… Less than a year ago.

Lucy: Did you join because of the privatisation?

Eva: Yes.

Instability and crisis in China

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Despite its meteoric growth rates, China may not be the economic juggernaut the Western media portrays. Jane Hardy uncovers the structural tensions and the workers' movements challenging the global superpower.

According to the International Monetary Fund the US has been knocked off top spot in the global economy and replaced by China. This further heightens the hype about China. But a recent book by Matthew Crabbe, Myth Busting China’s Numbers, is critical of some of the statistics. If you take spending power per head, for example, the picture is very different.

Egypt: murder that rocked the regime

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The heartbreaking murder of a young woman activist has exposed the fragility in the rule of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, a well respected member of Egypt’s left wing Socialist Popular Alliance Party, was shot in the chest by riot police as she was preparing to lay a wreath in Tahrir Square on the fourth anniversary of the revolution.

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.

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