'unofficial' union action

Taking on Crossrail

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Simon Basketter reports on an important step forward in the battle to rebuild union organisation across construction sites.

Frank Morris, an electrician sacked in a blacklisting case after raising health and safety concerns, won his job back last month. It was a stunning victory for union campaigning. Frank, a Unite union member, was dismissed over a year ago from London's Crossrail project, Europe's largest railway and infrastructure construction scheme.

The stamp of militancy

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One hundred years ago thousands of workers took part in what became known as the Great Dublin Lockout.

The Irish state postal service recently issued a series of stamps showing scenes from the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913. The stamps are very handsome, but this isn't the point. Rather it is the irony of the government issuing them being responsible for imposing the worst cuts in living memory on Irish workers. This shows how important it is to properly recall the memory of the events of 1913. For the lockout is not just the most important struggle of the Irish working class; it is also one of the most important industrial episodes in British history.

Start with solidarity

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Mark Bergfeld responds to Sandy Nicoll from last months issue on the Pop-Up Union at Sussex university. Here he argues that our starting point has to be solidarity

In recent months there have been major developments at Sussex University. Two of the main unions on campus (UCU and Unite) held consultative ballots, forcing the third union Unison into a corner. In a rigorous three-page questionnaire more than 85 percent of Unison members ticked the box calling for industrial action. And yet, there is no intention of going on strike.

Are "Pop-Up" unions the way forward?

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The emergence of the Pop-Up union at Sussex University has raised important debates about how to organise in the unions and how to address the inertia of the union officials.

Some argue that the Pop-Up union represents an innovative approach to overcoming the conservatism of the trade union bureaucracy (see, for example, the article by Mark Bergfeld in Ceasefire magazine http://tinyurl.com/nuqg4xt).

Construction lessons

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Electricians have been protesting for months against wage cuts and attacks on their terms and conditions. Last December workers took unofficial strike action. Simon Basketter looks at the background to this battle and the prospects for rebuilding union organisation on construction sites.

On a freezing Wednesday night on 7 December last year, a small group of men stand on a street in animated discussion. Every now and again, someone else joins their group and talks to them for a few minutes. After over half an hour, they decide to go to the pub. It was a small, but nonetheless significant event.

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.

A new period of class struggle

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Unofficial strikes, occupations and rank and file action - we need to learn from the new struggles by trade unionists and non-unionised workers alike, argues Charlie Kimber.

The occupation at the Vestas wind turbine plant, the support it has generated, and the global publicity it gained confirm that we are in a new period of class struggle. The initial effect of soaring unemployment was to panic most union leaders into abject surrender and to make many workers doubt their ability to fight.

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