Trade Unions

Time to escalate the fight

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The anger over pensions runs much deeper than this single issue. But some in the trade union movement have argued to keep the fight focused on this question alone.

They believe that workers, at the moment, are not interested in fighting a wider battle over privatisation and the defence of the welfare state. This is a mistake. The attacks on pensions act as a lightning conductor for the rage felt about the coalition's attacks as a whole.

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.

The contours of class

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The huge TUC organised demonstration in March has shown that the working class is still a force to be reckoned with. Mark L Thomas looks at the reality of class in Britain today, while Jack Farmer unpicks the debate within the Labour Party over how to relate to the cuts

After the huge TUC-organised anti-cuts demonstration at the end of March, one thing should be clear: the contours of British society remain profoundly shaped by class.

It wasn't just that the 26 March protest was huge, though it was. With at least 500,000 demonstrating - perhaps even as many as 750,000 - it was the second biggest demonstration in British history, after the February 2003 anti-war march.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: a beacon of resistance

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Trade union branches including some from the RMT, Unite, the UCU and the CWU, were discussing backing a new left alternative to Labour last month.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc) has been launched to contest seats in the coming general election on a clear anti-cuts and socialist programme.

The coalition includes the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, a number of groups of individual councillors from across the country and trade union leaders Bob Crow of the RMT transport workers' union and Brian Caton of the prison officers' POA. Several RMT branches have also pledged support alongside many leading officers of the public sector PCS union.

With the workers always

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Profound economic crisis and renewed militancy from the working class means the relevance of Marxist ideas for 21st century trade unionism, and the role socialists can play within the movement, is worth revisiting, argues Sean Vernell

Walking past a bookshop recently I saw a window display with a copy of Robert Tressell's classic The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - a story of exploitation and resistance in the early part of the 20th century. The recommendation from one of their young workers read "Worryingly relevant".

Let the people decide: Merseyside FBU considers standing in elections

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Once again public services are under attack. The current round of government grant settlements, essential money for local authorities from central government, has been decided.

As a result fire and rescue services around the country, but particularly in the north west, will receive funding which represents as little as 1 percent of the overall budget for this year, and 0.5 percent for the next two years running. It is significantly lower than the current rate of inflation and clearly a cut in the budget in real terms.

A striking tale

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I've been a fully paid up member of Unison for 19 years. And until we took action for eight weeks against the single status process at the end of last year, I had never even been on strike.

Initially I became a steward because no one else would do it. In the process of the strike I have really become a steward because I want to be one and I believe in the power of unions to protect workers.

Because Christmas was approaching and the workforce in day services is predominately women, it was assumed that we would cave in and go back to work after a week or two. But, as one of the male strikers said, "they didn't reckon on the strength of a group of women together". It was that strength that sustained us through the strike.

Brown, bosses and workers after May Day

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These may be Tony Blair's last days, but Gordon Brown has made it clear that Blairism - war, privatisation and cuts - will remain. Charlie Kimber looks at the issues which are bringing workers into confrontation with the government and how trade unions are organising

At its best 1 May, May Day, is about the unity of socialist politics and the power of the working class. A hundred years ago the Second International grouping of socialist parties called on all socialists and trade unionists in every country to "demonstrate energetically" each 1 May "for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace." The greatest May Day moments have reflected the merging of immediate class demands and a vision of a better world free of capitalism and imperialism.

Trade Unions: Merger Most Horrid?

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Mergers aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Plans for a merger between Amicus and the TGWU, and possibly the GMB trade unions were announced recently with some high-flown oratory from Tony Woodley, the TGWU general secretary. Invoking the ghosts of engineering militant Tom Mann and dockers' leader Ben Tillett along the way, he said that the plans send 'a warning to employers that we intend to match the power of capital with the power of united labour'. He also promised that the new union would be 'driven by one idea above all - strengthening the position of our members in the workplace'.

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