strikes

Superdrug: The poor can't pay anymore

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We have just been on all-out strike for three weeks. We struck to resist plans by Superdrug to attack our pay and conditions.

They wanted to abolish shift pay, worth £2,000 a year to some people; to take away sick pay from the first three days of every occasion; and to lower sick pay coverage from 13 weeks to seven weeks. They also wanted to cut overtime payment from time and a half to time and a third and to change our contracts to make us work flexible annualised hours.

That's why as a membership and as a union we called a postal ballot to vote for strike action. There was an 86 percent vote in favour of a walkout which we then decided had to be an all-out indefinite strike.

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.

Not lost in translation

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At the time of writing, UCU members at Tower Hamlets College in East London have been on all-out strike for three weeks.

Our campaign started in June when we received notice of £2 million cost efficiency savings and cuts to over 40 posts and 1,000 English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) places. Our branch began the ballot, fearing cuts. But then the news of what was proposed hit us late on a Friday afternoon and we all went home in shock.

Shell tanker drivers' strike - oil on troubled waters

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"The Shell drivers have driven a coach and horses through the Brown and Darling pay freeze," said Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, after the Shell tanker drivers won a 14 percent pay deal last month.

A host of commentators explained how it was inevitable they would win: "exceptional case... small group... concentration of power... strategic weak spot... essential resource..." Essential bollocks! No one claimed inevitable victory before the strike (or it wouldn't have happened, would it?)

Boeing beaten back

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We have just concluded a 57 day strike. People have really sacrificed over that period. But it felt good to conclude it with a significant win and even over job security - where the company seemed intractable - we made gains.

The world changed after we went out on strike. There was a Lehman Brothers brokerage firm in the US and the banks hadn't started failing and then a lot of bad news hit so we were lucky to get as much out of this settlement as we did.
The rank and file membership is the backbone of any work stoppage, and ours was resolute. We were absolutely determined that we were going to win. Less than 1 percent of our members crossed the line. Even though you had people hurting they were talking to the press saying, "I'm willing to stay out six months or as long as it takes."

Tube cleaners: a strike for freedom

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I was an activist from a young age. As a student in Nigeria I was secretary of the national students' organisation in my university. I had a political background - I lived with a political uncle and he was my inspiration.

When I came to England, and into the cleaning industry at London Underground (LU), the first thing I found was that the cleaners were predominantly black. That was a motivation, seeing what they were being subjected to. It reminded me of my background.

I got involved and felt I could be part of the struggle. I saw it as a set of people under slavery. It was not just about the money but their oppressive situation, and I felt there was a need for liberation.

Pay Freeze: Learn from the past to shape the future

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As increasing numbers of workers take action over pay Charlie Kimber examines the political dimension of the strikes and looks at the lessons we can learn from the past.

Class struggle is on the rise. In the first 11 months of Gordon Brown's premiership there were over 900,000 strike days, almost three times the number in the same period in the previous year. These figures do not include the big local government action in July.

M is for mass strike

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"...for the first time [it] awoke feeling and class-consciousness in millions upon millions as if by an electric shock... the proletarian mass... quite suddenly and sharply came to realise how intolerable was that social and economic existence which they had patiently endured for decades in the chains of capitalism. Thereupon there began a spontaneous general shaking of and tugging at these chains."

This is Rosa Luxemburg's description in The Mass Strike of the impact of the strike wave that swept the Russian Empire in January and February 1905.

More mass strikes followed in October and December, leaving the Tsar's autocratic regime battered if not yet overthrown. In all there were 23 million strike days in Russia during 1905, far outnumbering anything seen previously in Russia or the more advanced industrialised countries.

Pay, the fightback... and how much do you spend on your horse?

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Many workers are gaining confidence to join the resistance to pay cuts and privatisation. Charlie Kimber assesses the pressure on Gordon Brown from below.

The fallout from the tremendous strikes and rallies on 24 April is continuing. Those who struck then are debating doing it again. Some of those who did not strike are discussing getting involved. And many others look on, wishing their own union leaders could be won to such action.

UCU strike ballot: Time to pay up

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Some 45,000 Further and Adult Education lecturers in the University College Union (UCU) are being balloted for strike action over pay alongside teachers on 24 April.

Some may say that there is nothing unusual about that when lecturers in this sector have probably taken more one-day strikes over the past 15 years than most workers. However, this time it is different.

We are used to getting insulting pay deals, but like other public sector workers this year we face a pay cut. Lecturers have seen principals' pay rise 50 percent faster than theirs since 2002. Last year we were offered 2.5 percent. On average, principals awarded themselves 4.5 percent on an average salary of £100,000.

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