Class struggle

Class struggle

Workers can only win if they spread the struggle

Throughout the summer the mainstream press was full of hot air about a new ‘winter of discontent'. So editors, both tabloid and broadsheet, must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when postal workers walked out en masse in October. With further action threatened by public services workers in response to paltry pay offers and the possibility of large scale action in response to job cuts at the BBC...

CWU: Selling out or just doing its job?

After nearly 3 months of dispute the worse fears of postal workers have been confirmed. The Communication Workers Union (CWU), through its executive, have recommended acceptance of a deal which is practically the same as the original offer made by Royal Mail. After 3 weeks of wrangling Billy Hayes and Dave Ward were desperately attempting to put together a package that they could sell to postal-workers.

Struggles in Egypt: The mirage of ‘independent unions’

During October workers' struggles continued in Egypt. This year, according to one source, there have been 580 ‘industrial actions' in the nine months to the end of September. This compares to 222 strikes recorded in the whole of 2006. The strikes continue to be as inspiring as during last December's strike wave...

Philippines: a microcosm of the class struggle world wide in MEPZA

 

We are publishing below extracts of an account sent to us by the comrades of the Internasyonalismo group of workers' movements that have taken place over the last few years in the MEPZA industrial zone. Although only a few hundred workers were involved in the events described here, they reveal in microcosm the problems confronting not only the 40,000 workers in MEPZA but by millions of workers world wide, from the maqiladora on the US-Mexican frontier to the factories in China's "special economic zones".

Class struggles in Peru

A comrade from Lima who is corresponding and discussing regularly with our organisation has already sent us an article on the miners’ strike in Peru last April and has now sent us an update with further news of the teachers’ strike there and of workers’ struggles in Chile. We warmly welcome his efforts. It’s vitally important to rapidly circulate information, experiences, lessons regarding the workers’ struggles developing across the world.

Workers respond to the world-wide crisis

During the summer there was no break for the class struggle. In Britain, strikes by postal workers, on the London underground and in the public sector expressed a growing discontent within the working class. In the post office 50,000 jobs have gone in recent years and now another 40,000 are threatened. On the tube, following the collapse of Metronet, there are threats to both jobs and conditions. These are the reasons workers struggle: to fight against attacks on their working and living conditions.

'Dispatch': Workers' groups and the potential for wider intervention and discussion

In response to the current postal dispute and the looming conflicts in other parts of the public sector, a number of people involved in the libcom.org discussion forum, most of them public sector workers, have produced a bulletin (‘Dispatch') putting forward the need for the postal workers to control the struggle and link up with other sectors. We think that this is a significant development, whatever the outcome of the postal dispute which has been ‘suspended' by the unions.

Throughout the world, class struggle revives in the face of capitalism's attacks

The recovery of the international working class struggle continues. Time and again throughout its long history the working class has been informed by its employers and rulers that it no longer exists, that the struggle to defend its living conditions was an anachronism and that its ultimate goal of socialism and the overthrow of capitalism were quaint vestiges of the past.

Airbus, Alcatel: once again the unions are there to sabotage workers’ struggles

This article first appeared in the April issue of Revolution Internationale. It describes a situation in which, following some initial spontaneous reactions by Airbus workers in France (and Germany) to the announcement of massive redundancies across Europe, the trade unions had resumed control of the situation through a series of classic manoeuvres. However, as can be seen from a follow-up article, translated from the May issue of RI (‘Spontaneous walk-outs at Airbus: the workers make their voices heard’) the unions have by no means exhausted the anger of the workers or their capacity to respond to further attacks by the company by taking their struggle into their own hands.

Debate on Libcom on the NHS: How do we defend the social wage?

A discussion in March on ‘Defending the NHS ’ on the libertarian internet discussion forum libcom.org posed some very important issues about how workers in the NHS can defend themselves, and how we as a class can struggle against hospital closures and cuts in services. All agreed that the NHS is an expression of state capitalism, no one held that it is a wonderful reform and the envy of the world as we used to hear in the 1970s and 1980s. This is a forum where we find people questioning what capitalism has to offer us, and of course, 40 years of cuts and shake-ups have inevitably removed a lot of illusions.

Egypt: Germs of the mass strike

In WR 302 we reported on the wave of strikes which swept numerous sectors in Egypt at the beginning of the year: in cement and poultry plants, in mines, on the buses and on the railways, in the sanitation sector, and above all in the textile industry, workers have been out on a series of illegal strikes against rapidly declining real wages and cuts in benefits. The militant, spontaneous character of these struggles can be glimpsed in this description of how, in December last year, the struggle broke out at the big Mahalla al-Kubra’s Misr Spinning and Weaving complex north of Cairo, which was the epicentre of the movement.

Struggles at Airbus: The beginnings of class solidarity

Faced with the threat of 1600 job cuts in the Airbus Broughton and Bristol plants, and with the elimination of profit-related bonuses, thousands of workers at the Broughton plant in Wales took unofficial strike action in the last week of March. These walk-outs follow similar outbreaks of anger by workers at Airbus factories in Germany and France.

Airbus: If we accept sacrifices today, the bourgeoisie will hit us harder tomorrow!

After several weeks of contortions by the management of Airbus and a meeting between Merkel and Chirac, the axe has fallen: 10,000 redundancies in Europe, the closure and sale of several factories. The management, hand on heart, tell us “there will be no compulsory redundancies”, “everything will be settled by early retirement and voluntary departures”. No compulsory redundancies at Airbus, but that only concerns half of the workers affected: 5000 temporary or subcontract workers will be asked to go elsewhere. As for the workers at Airbus, we know what “voluntary redundancy” means: harassment by lower management to force workers out. In all, there will be still more unemployment, above all among the young who are looking for a job. And for those that remain at Airbus: speed-ups and an increase in hours worked for the same wages, or less.

Japan: a history of the workers' struggles in Kamagasaki

The article below was sent to us recently by a comrade in Japan: it describes the emergence and decline of the squatters' and day-workers' movements which have marked the life of several Japanese cities - more particularly Osaka in this case - since the collapse of the Japanese economic "bubble" at the beginning of the 1990s, to the present day.

British Airways: Workers’ anger against union sabotage

In mid-January, over 10,000 British Airways cabin workers in the Transport and General Workers Union division, BASSA, voted overwhelmingly and enthusiastically for a strike involving pay, conditions and general discontent. The unfolding of events since then at BA is a real, practical demonstration of the anti-working class nature of the trade unions...

Middle East: Despite war, class struggle continues

Most of the news that comes out of the Middle East tells us about the daily sectarian slaughter in Iraq, the brutal bombing of civilian populations by the USA and Israel in Iraq and Lebanon, bloody confrontations between Palestinian factions in Gaza, threats of a new military adventure in Iran… For genuine socialists or communists, the way towards a ‘better world’ lies through the united struggle of the exploited class, the proletariat, against its exploitation. It follows that when you have a ‘struggle’ which divides the proletarians against each other, which drags them into fighting battles on behalf of their exploiters, you are going not towards a better world but towards the catastrophic demise of the present one.

Guinea: workers’ struggle against bourgeois attacks

Since 10 January, Guinea has been going through an explosive social situation, marked by a strike movement unprecedented even in a country which has seen many strikes over recent years. The workers in Conakry, followed by those in several other towns like Kankan, and actively supported by the population as a whole, have given active expression to their mounting discontent and thrown themselves into a movement of protest.

The historical resurgence of the world proletariat and the perspectives for the class struggle

The question that we aimed to address in this presentation to the conference in Korea is this: how are we to analyse the class struggle? How are we to determine at any given time - and notably today - the general condition of the working class, and the possibilities that are determined by the balance of class forces, in other words by the balance of power between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

“International Conference of revolutionary Marxism” in Korea

In October 2006, the Korean group "Socialist Political Alliance" called a conference in the towns of Seoul and Ulsan under the title "International Conference of revolutionary Marxism" , with the explicit purpose of reinforcing the presence of Left Communist positions within the Korean working class and its political minorities.

The conference in Korea was the first of its kind in the history of the workers' movement of that country and indeed in the whole of East Asia. That such a conference should be called today, in a country still divided by the consequences of the imperialist war launched more than 50 years ago, is an event of the greatest importance. It opens a perspective for the development of the international unity of the workers' movement between East and West for the first time since the brief experience of the Third International. However modestly, it heralds the appearance on the historical stage of the proletariat of the East.

Signs of the struggle to come

The class struggle is gradually developing. In some struggles there have been encouraging expressions of solidarity. In other struggles explicitly political questions have been raised around issues such as pensions. This has been taking place internationally, since a turning point in the class struggle in 2003. This came after a decade and a half of relative quiet in the working class, marked by disorientation and the campaign over the ‘end of communism’ after the collapse of the eastern bloc.

Latin America: Class struggle is developing despite state repression and ideological traps

Throughout the world, the living conditions of the working class are under attack, whether by private bosses or the state, whether in the developed countries or the poorest. Attacks on wages, the aggravation of unemployment, lowering of benefits, growing constraints on conditions of work, deepening poverty - such is the price the proletariat pays for the crisis of capitalism. But these attacks are not raining down on a beaten proletariat, ready to passively accept all the sacrifices that are demanded of it.

On the contrary, we are seeing stronger and stronger reactions from the workers to counter these attacks. Despite the enormous black-out operated by the media in the developed countries, this is particularly the case in Latin America at the moment.

Brazil: Workers react against union sabotage

In Brazil, “after the massive job losses (75% of personnel) at the Varig aeronautical company last spring, it’s the turn of the employees of the Volkswagen factories in the industrial belt of Sao Paulo (ABC). (…) It’s the ABC metalworkers’ union that, in collaboration with the bosses of Volkswagen, fixed the quota of 3600 job cuts staged up to 2008. In the assemblies, the atmosphere was extremely intimidating, with the unions using blackmail about more job cuts if the workers didn’t accept the proposals for voluntary redundancies. In the assembly where the agreement was concluded, the unions were booed, labelled as ‘sell-outs’ and accused of having swindled the workers. (…) But that’s not all: the workers who are going to keep their jobs are going to see their wages cut from 1-2% due to increased social security costs, that too with the assent of the unions”. (Extract from a joint declaration by the Brazilian group Workers’ Opposition - OPOP – and the ICC).

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