strikes

Strike for your rights!

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Jack Farmer spoke to University of London cleaners about how they won the London Living Wage and union recognition by staging an unofficial strike

Cleaners are among the most badly treated and poorly paid workers in London. Many are immigrants from South America and a lack of fluent English often makes it all the more difficult to organise.

This is why the struggle of cleaners, porters and security guards at Senate House - part of the University of London - has been so remarkable. Over a number of years they've built a Unison union branch which includes over 100 outsourced workers, organised noisy public protests and a successful unofficial strike, winning the London Living Wage and union recognition.

Defending the NHS: the lessons of 1988

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When 37 night nurses walked out at the end of their shift at North Manchester General Hospital in January 1988 they made an immediate impact. Images of uniformed nurses on a picket line dominated the TV evening news and newspapers the next day.

But this was not a spontaneous action. The hospital had a strong joint union committee which included socialists, and a tradition of militancy. It had discussed how workers could respond to a major offensive by the Thatcher government on NHS pay and conditions. The NUPE union representative for the night staff organised the walkout to highlight threatened cuts to special duty payments.

Organising to resist

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The retreat by union leaders over the pensions struggle shaped last year. What are the prospects for a renewal of resistance in 2013? Socialist Review spoke to Michael Bradley, from the SWP's industrial office, about the prospects for strikes and how socialists in the unions should organise

2012 was dominated by the retreat over the pensions struggle. What do you think is the balance sheet of that experience and what lessons can we draw from it?

Quebec: how we won

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After a six-month strike students in Quebec celebrated a victory last month when the new Parti Quebecois government announced it would reverse a planned tuition fees hike. The new government also repealed Bill 78, an emergency law introduced in May, aimed at restricting the right to protest. Aamna Mohdin and Jamie Woodcock spoke to Jérémie Bédard-Wien, a spokesperson for CLASSE, a radical student coalition that played a central role in the movement


“Half a million people marched through Montreal on 22 May - the largest ever act of civil disobedience in North America.”

Jérémie Bédard-Wien


There has been a history of student strikes in Quebec. What was the trigger for the 2012 student strike? And what was the inspiration?

Egypt: State in flux

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The waves of strikes that have swept Egypt since the overthrow of Mubarak have fractured the state machine, giving a boost to reformist forces. Anne Alexander looks at how revolutionaries should relate to these new forces, especially those emerging around Hamdeen Sabahi.

The stifling heat of summer makes Cairo hell for its poorest inhabitants. The rich turn up their air conditioners, while hundreds of thousands in the "informal" neighbourhoods suffer water shortages and power cuts. This year the people of the Saft al-Laban area took matters into their own hands. On 22 July, after weeks without water, they stormed the Giza governorate buildings and locked the gates. On 11 August they took their protests to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. At one point protesters cornered the minister, putting down a glass of filthy brown water in front of him.

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.

The workers' movement in Egypt

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A call for a general strike in Egypt on 11 February didn't produce the desired effect. Yet the current strike wave shows no signs of abating. Anne Alexander looks at the strengths and weaknesses of Egypt's new workers' movement and the different forces attempting to shape it

Just over a year after the fall of Mubarak, the landscape of the Egyptian workers' movement has changed dramatically. The strike wave shows little sign of running out of energy: the numbers ebb and flow but each month brings new explosions of action. The old state-run union federation has been wounded and weakened but not destroyed.

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.

'Changing the game': how 30 November can transform the unions

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In the build-up to the planned strikes across the public sector on 30 November
Mark L Thomas and Estelle Cooch spoke to socialists in different unions about the mood in the working class and how we can beat back the Tories and rebuild union organisation

"For many years we were told the working class is dead, but we're going to have the biggest strike in generations. We were told that you won't have revolutions, but the 21st century is becoming a century of revolutions," says Brett Davies, the Unite convenor at a Ministry of Defence (MoD) company in Telford.

Egypt's revolution conquers new ground as strikes spread

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A massive new strike wave has thrown into doubt the hopes of Egypt's ruling army council (SCAF) that elections to parliament, currently planned for late November, would allow a return to stability and order.

The strikes have involved postal workers, teachers, sugar refinery workers, university staff, bus drivers, airport staff, doctors, workers from the irrigation ministry and many others. Economic demands and calls to dismantle the institutions of the Mubarak state machine that penetrated into every workplace are the twin drivers of the strike wave.

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