April 24th: Media and unions against the potential for workers’ solidarity

400,000 workers were involved in strikes, demonstrations and rallies on 24 April. 250,000 teachers took part in their first national strike in 21 years. 100,000 civil servants were on strike. Of the 25,000 on strike in Birmingham it was the second day for council workers.

Bilan 1935: Evolution of British imperialism (part 2)

The Treaty of Versailles stamped out British imperialism's most formidable competitor in the decades that preceded the war. The antagonism between Britain and Germany was at the centre of the tensions that led to the world conflict. But the threat of German expansionism was only kept in check at the cost of the growing domination of an even more formidable force...

Royal Mail Strike: CWU sells workers a pay cut

The revival of workers' struggles in 2003 has continued in many countries throughout 2007, and Britain has been no exception. The recent struggle of workers at Royal Mail showed both workers' militancy as well as the ability of the Communication Workers Union to sabotage the strike. When the union sold the pay deal they rather neglected to point out that it was effectively a pay cut.

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.

No way out for British imperialism

The working class in Britain is daily faced with its sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends in the armed forces being sucked ever deeper in to what appears to be a growing series of wars. The chaos in Iraq is rejoined by the revival of conflict and casualties in Afghanistan, although the full extent of the victims of war is deliberately hidden by the state, which does not report the number of injured.

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 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.

Floods in Britain

This year was the UK's wettest ever recorded summer. In June and July there were a number of exceptional floods throughout the country. In one day, on June 25, an entire month's rain fell on some parts of Britain. In Sheffield the drainage system was rapidly overwhelmed, causing flash flooding. The Ulley reservoir was full to almost breaking point...

Brown premiership: Same attacks in new wrapping

As he stood outside the door of Number 10 on the day he became Prime Minister, Gordon Brown declared his commitment to change: "Change in our NHS, change in our schools, change with affordable housing, change to build trust in government, change to extend and protect the British way of life." He declared he had "listened and...learnt from the British people" and pledged to lead "a new government with new priorities" and "to reach out beyond narrow party interest."

Gang culture: symptom of a rotting social system

Gang violence has always been a feature of class society, but with onset of decomposition, the final phase of the decadence of capitalism, it has reached new heights of irrational barbarity. The recent epidemic of violence amongst young people in Britain is just another depressing example of this phenomenon. Over a period of eight days in June this year eight young people, all under the age of 25, were murdered in London. All victims of London’s ‘gang culture’.

Floods in Britain: The state is no protection

Recent floods, in which people have died, have left more than 600 injured, and damaged 27,000 homes in Britain, particularly in Yorkshire. The emergency services were overloaded. Calls from people in the village of Toll Bar, near Doncaster, were unanswered for 24 hours. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans two years ago the federal authorities claimed they had not been aware of the 25,000 people suffering in the Convention Centre for several days, despite a great deal of TV coverage...

Labour’s nationalist orgy

Suddenly everyone wants us to have an extra holiday. In January last year Gordon Brown proposed a day for Britain to celebrate its national identity when everyone could express a “united shared sense of purpose” and “embrace the Union flag”. Indeed “All the United Kingdom should honour it. Not ignore it. We should assert that the Union flag is a flag for tolerance and inclusion”. A national day would commemorate Britishness and show Labour as a modern patriotic party. Left wing singer Billy Bragg said that “the thing that binds us together is our civic identity which is Britishness”.

Blair’s legacy: A trusty servant of capitalism

As Tony Blair reached his tenth anniversary as Prime Minister and prepared to announce his resignation, attention turned to his legacy. Blair himself is quite clear: “I am convinced that the initial insight that brought us to power has stood the test of time…The idea was that there was no need to choose between social justice on the one hand and economic prosperity on the other ... Ten years on, this is the governing idea of British politics.” (Guardian, 27/04/07). Many commentators agree that politics in Britain has changed...

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 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.

Falklands War: How the bourgeoisie ‘conspires’ against the workers

This article was originally published in World Revolution 50, in June 1982. We are reprinting it in anticipation of a flood of articles and TV documentaries commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war. The article argues that the war was not, like many other wars of that period, a proxy conflict between the American and Russian imperialist blocs, nor was it fought over any serious economic or strategic conflict of interests between Britain and Argentina. It was above all a war aimed at the working class.

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...

Big Brother: Media hypocrisy on racism

During the recent Celebrity Big Brother, apart from the swearing, belching and farting, young British women were singled out for criticism as racist bullies.When Bollywood film star Shilpa Shetty won the vote the media saluted it as a victory against racism. There was general approval in the House of Commons. The people of Britain had displayed the fairness and tolerance that we should have expected.

The working class is a class of immigrants

The attacks on Muslims don’t let up. Politicians say that the veil is threatening. Islam is evil, say the BNP, and the pope possibly agrees. Muslim ‘communities’ are supposed to be hot beds of terrorism, ready to inflict further atrocities such as 9/11 and 7/7. Muslims are accused of not integrating into or embracing British culture. Ministers say they should expect to be stopped and searched more than other people.

Veil furore: A false choice between religion and democracy

Jack Straw knew he was being provocative when he revealed that he asked Muslim women to remove their veil when visiting his surgeries. He said that wearing a veil was “a visible statement of separation and difference” and that many Muslim scholars didn’t think it was obligatory. Writing in his weekly column for the Lancashire Telegraph he said he was concerned “that wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult”.

CWU: Fireguard against workers’ action

Wage negotiations within Royal Mail have been dragged out now for over five months. Postal workers have been treated to a management imposed deal and union delays and prevarication over a strike ballot. Against a background of management attacks and bullying at all levels, the militancy of the postal workers has already exploded in a number of local, unofficial walk-outs...

Exeter wildcat: How shop stewards are obliged to oppose workers’ interests

These reflections on the postal workers’ wildcat in Exeter were sent to us by a close sympathiser. They provide a very good framework for understanding how, whether they do it consciously or not, even the most “rank and file” representatives of the trade unions are forced to act against the interests of the working class.

An encouraging example of workers’ solidarity during the UNISON strike

The following article was sent to us by members of the Midlands Discussion Forum. As well as putting forward a very clear general perspective on the recent council workers’ strike, it contains some very interesting information about a small but significant expression of class solidarity in the wake of the strike.

Britain: A gradual development of workers’ militancy

These strikes are still very dispersed and fairly well-controlled by the trade unions. But  there is an overall change of climate in the class struggle, not only in Britain but internationally, as illustrated in particular by the massive movement of young workers to be in the French schools and universities in the spring, by the mass assemblies organised by the metal workers of Vigo in Spain, by the current struggles of miners in Chile, car workers in Brazil, education workers in Mexico, and many others...

Asda, Post Office: Unity of unions and management against workers

As ASDA and the GMB union squared up for a five-day strike affecting 24 distribution depots you could have believed that they were sworn enemies. ASDA threatened an injunction against a strike called after a ballot with “irregularities”. Meanwhile the GMB and its leftist supporters were drawing attention to the habits of Wal-Mart, ASDA’s US parent company, denouncing the attacks of the multinational, insisting that it was a fundamental “battle for union rights” and that, in the words of GMB leader Paul Kenny, workers “have been subjected to unprecedented interference and propaganda”.


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