Mark Thomas

Building the fightback

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This September marked six months since the UK entered national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The terror of the lockdown, when thousands of people lost their lives as a result of Covid-19, gave way to an eerily carefree summer with the Tories desperately attempting a return to normality, encouraging people out with the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, opening schools and universities and pushing for a return to work even when some people could work from home. The economic picture is grim.

Coronavirus, the workplace and the trade unions

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Why workers need to take the lead on action

The sheer scale of the crisis facing workplace activists and the trade unions presented by the coronavirus pandemic are hard to understate.

An unprecedented public health emergency, which is almost certain to touch every working class family in some way is interlaced with a massive economic shock that may generate a recession on a greater scale than the global financial crisis of 2008-9 in the short term with mass layoffs.

How supermarket workers buck the trend

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The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) has long had a reputation as a right wing force in the labour movement, a bulwark of the right inside the Labour Party and a voice for “moderation” inside the TUC, where it champions the utility of cosy “partnership” deals with employers and avoids even the occasional language of confrontation.

Close to Tony Blair throughout the New Labour era, the union nominated Andy Burnham in the 2015 Labour leadership election and, learning nothing, backed the hapless Owen Smith in the 2016 attempt to depose Jeremy Corbyn.

New sinews of working class power

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Much has been written about how globalisation has rendered workers powerless. American socialist Kim Moody’s important new book on the restructuring of capital in the past four decades argues that the working class, far from disappearing, has renewed potential power, writes Mark L Thomas.

The defeats suffered by the working class movement from the late 1970s onwards created a new common sense that saw the increased internationalisation of the world economy as having fragmented and dissolved the working class. It might still show up in statistics but its collective power had been undermined, perhaps fatally.

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