Class struggle

Illusions in the unions will lead to defeat

For 5 months electricians have been demonstrating and picketing in order to build resistance to the new Building Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA) conditions, involving a deskilling and reduction of pay by 35%. Yet in spite of their effort the sparks are more and more frustrated that the struggle isn’t developing, knowing that the present level of action is no-where near enough to defend their current pay and conditions.

The unions are part of the attack on workers’ pensions

After the trade union marches and strikes against the Coalition’s pension cuts the unions went straight back into the serious business of working with government officials in order to implement the latest austerity measures. So individually, behind the scenes, relying on their usual tactics of division and secret talks, the unions are again working with the government against the interests of the working class.

Capitalism is bankrupt: We need to overthrow it

There was a time, not so long ago, when revolutionaries were greeted with scepticism or mockery when they argued that the capitalism system was heading towards catastrophe. Today, it’s the fiercest partisans of capitalism who are saying the same thing. It’s not with any joy in their hearts that these defenders of capitalism are admitting that their idol is on the way out. They are obviously shattered by this, all the more so because they can see that the solutions being put forward to save the system are unrealistic. As the journalist reporting Jean-Pierre Mustier’s words put it: “as for solutions, the cupboard is bare”. And with good reason!

The beginning of struggle or just another token gesture?

Unions predict that maybe two or three million workers will be on strike on 30 November, from education, health, local government, the civil service, and more. The main issue of the strike – the future of public sector pensions – is a very real one because we are all being asked to work longer and pay more for less to retire on.

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Oakland: Occupy movement seeks links with the working class

We are publishing here the calls from the Occupy Oakland General Assembly for a general strike on 2 November. This is a significant development in the ‘Occupy’ movement in the US, which while generally critical of ‘capitalism’ has also been hampered by a very confused view of what capitalism is, and in particular about the only way to oppose it: through the class struggle. But this appeal, coming after a number of very bitter experiences of police repression, marks a real step forward in that it is a direct call to the local working class to support the movement through striking.

Electricians: solidarity across industries is key

There is no doubting the level of the attack on electricians’ jobs, pay and conditions involved in ending the Joint Industry Board agreement, which will lead to cuts of up to 35% and many jobs reclassified as semi-skilled or unskilled. Go to any of their weekly protests outside various construction sites, or read their discussion forums, and you’ll hear just how disastrous it would be for workers already doing long hours of overtime in order to be able to afford house, car and necessities.

Government and unions aim to smother the workers’ response

Despite the government claiming that it had made major concessions on pensions, aimed at averting the ‘irresponsible’ public sector strike on 30 November, the day of action will go ahead and around three million workers from education, the health service, local government and elsewhere will be on strike that day.

The struggle against capitalism is a struggle between classes

Resistance against the present social order is spreading, from the huge social revolts in Tunisia and Egypt to the movement of the ‘indignant’ in Spain, to the general strikes and street assemblies in Greece, the demonstrations around housing and poverty in Israel, and the ‘Occupy’ movements across the USA, now echoed on a smaller scale in the UK. Awareness that this is a global movement is becoming sharper and more widespread.

How to intervene in the Class Struggle?

Here we are publishing an exchange that occurred between the comrades who were engaged in the intervention toward the striking Verizon workers, some of them ICC militants, some of them sympathizers. They worked in close collaboration from the early tossing around of ideas about what to write in the leaflet that was to be distributed, to the actual distribution of the leaflet and several discussions held with the striking workers, and to the post-intervention reflection, which is what is published here. We cannot stress enough the importance of the collective nature of this work. It is important for the sympathizers as they get a ‘hands-on’ experience of actually intervening in the class struggle with a collective framework that is the product of open discussions. It is important for the ICC as it continues to listen to and learn from the insights of the young –and not so young—generation of elements and groups in search of a political direction new and creative ways of approaching different issues.

Struggles at Verizon

The strike at Verizon in August, involving 45,000 workers at one of the largest companies in the US in the industrial Northeast, is the largest of its kind since the 2008 financial crash, and follows on the heels of a long development of class struggle in the U.S. For all its difficulties, the US working class is returning to the class struggle and will continue to do so as the crisis deepens.

Electricians’ actions hold the promise of class unity

The world economic crisis has hit the construction industry very hard. The Office of National Statistics Bulletin for the 2nd quarter 2011 says that the total volume of new orders for building contracts is at their lowest level since 1980. Faced with this slow-down, one of the major UK Construction companies, Balfour Beatty Engineering, issued 90 day notices of termination to some 890 employees on the 14th September. 7 other major electrical contractors also announced their intention to withdraw from the national industry agreement, proposing to split electricians from one grade – where they’re paid £16.25 per hour – into 3 grades ranging from £10.50 to £14 per hour. For those downgraded to £10.50 this will amount to a 35% pay cut. There was an immediate reaction from the workforce, with co-ordinated unofficial action taking place at several major construction sites across the UK.

'Social democracy' is still anti-working class

The operation that Ed Miliband had to tackle a deviated septum in his nose has not altered the nasal quality of his speech. The content of his speeches has not changed much either since he was elected Labour leader last year. Then we said (WR 338) that his lack of political baggage allowed him to “be all things to all people, and gives him a great deal of room for manoeuvre if the political and economic situation gets more difficult.

Union preparations and the need for a workers' response

The trade unions and the Left are preparing to make the 30 November strike over pensions something big. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said that it would be “the biggest trade union mobilisation for a generation” as more than a dozen major unions prepared to ballot their members. Workers are angry and the unions are doing something. The trouble is the effect of the unions’ actions is to divide workers and undermine their attempts to fight.

Economic depression, war, social decay: Only the class struggle offers a way out

The dramatic worsening of the world economic crisis over the summer gives us a clear indication that the capitalist system really is on its last legs. The ‘debt crisis’ has demonstrated the literal bankruptcy not only of the banks, but of entire states; and not only the states of weak economies like Greece or Portugal but key countries of the Eurozone and on top of it all, the most powerful economy in the world: the USA.

Solidarity with Striking Verizon workers!

For the first time in 11 years, 45,000 Verizon workers across the Mid-Atlantic region have returned to the class struggle, courageously refusing to submit to the bosses’ logic of making the working class pay for the deepening economic crisis of capitalism!  Our exploiters say we should sacrifice to help the economy get going again, or to support the profitability of a company in order to safeguard jobs. But the latest draconian assault on pension benefits is proof that the more workers give in, the longer they delay their response to the boss’s attacks, the more emboldened and brutal the next round of attacks will be.

Altercations between “Real Democracy Now” and the ICC in Paris: Our indignation faced with the ‘democratic’ methods of ‘DRY’!

The May 15 movement in Spain (15M) initiated by Democracia Real Ya (DRY), which is backed by the ‘alternative world’  group ATTAC, has also had some offspring in France, notably in Paris, with the objective of “taking the Place de la Bastille”. In the assemblies in Paris, some ICC militants went to defend class positions and not as simple “citizens” claiming “real democracy now” in the framework of preserving the capitalist system.

Protests in China come up against state repression

The Xintang area of Zengcheng, in China’s southern Guangzhou province, annually produces 260 million pairs of jeans, 60% of China’s and a third of the world’s output for more than 60 international brands. Known as the ‘jeans capital of the world’ it is in some ways symbolic of Chinese economic development over the last thirty years. In June, demonstrations and clashes with the police in angry protests by thousands of workers against the treatment of a pregnant 20-year-old, hint at the reality experienced by workers in the heart of an ‘economical miracle’.

The evolution of the situation in Spain since the June 19th demonstrations

On Sunday 19th June there were massive demonstrations in more than 60 cities across Spain. According to some figures there were 140, 000 in Madrid, 100,000 in Barcelona, 60,000 in Valencia, 25,000 in Seville, 8000 in Vigo, 20,000 in Bilbao, another 20,000 in Zaragoza, 10,000 in Alicante and 15,000 in Malaga.

J30 Assemblies: How does the working class need to struggle?

In preparation for the recent public sector strikes three ‘Generalise the strike assemblies’were held in London. They weren’t the only assemblies held throughout the UK at the time; similar events were held in Birmingham, Leeds, Norwich, Bristol and Sheffield. The ICC were only able to attend the second two in London. And what interesting experiences they were.

Faced with the global economic crisis, struggling behind the unions leads to defeat

In a few days at the end of June a range of High Street names showed what effect the continuing crisis is having. Thorntons is closing 120 and maybe up to 180 shops. Carpetright is closing 94 stores. Jane Norman is shutting 33 shops. TJHughes is looking at going into administration. Habitat is going into administration and closing most of its shops. Clinton Cards is to be restructured. Lloyds TSB is cutting another 15,000 jobs, making more than 40,000 since 2009. Inflation is running at 4.5% (5.2% on the higher RPI measure), there’s a public sector pay freeze, the state pension age is rising. Council workers in Southampton, Shropshire and Neath Port Talbot have faced the ‘choice’ of pay cuts or job losses.

Special Report on the 15M movement in Spain - Updated July 7th

The social movement that has swept Spain since mid-May is of historical significance. The poor and the working class, especially its youth, are now reacting to the massive onslaught brought on by the economic crisis. But even more than the immense anger being manifested, it's the organisation of the struggle in general assemblies and the reflection that drives the debates that demonstrate a real advance for the struggles of our class. That is why the bourgeoisie, with an iron fist, have ochestrated an incredible media blackout on an international scale. Information about what is really happening on the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Terrassa isn't filtering out. This collection of articles therefore intends to contribute to breaking this silence. We will try to update it as often as possible with translations of articles, videos and eye-witness reports.

Leftists offer recipe for defeat

Whichever way you look at 26 March, it was dominated by the unions and their supporters, in the banners, in the speeches, in the way that so much anger and frustration was transformed into a passive stroll. The SWP think it's possible to “Kick out Cameron’s crumbling coalition” (14/5/11) but 30 June is still dominated by unions and, as things stand, based on the proposals of Left and unions, will have no more effect that 26 March.

June 30th: it’s time to take control of our own struggles!

Why are nearly a million workers – from education, the civil service, local councils – preparing to go on strike on June 30th? They are more and more fed up with the never-ending attacks on their living standards being organised by the government, whether in the form of cuts in healthcare, rising tuition fees, growing unemployment, wage freezes or – a major issue in the June 30 strike – an assault on pensions, so that teachers for example will pay more towards their pension, retire later, and get a smaller pension at the end of it.

Solidarity with the "indignant" in Spain: The future belongs to the working class!

While the media has been full of Obama’s ‘triumphant’ visit to Europe, or the scandal about Dominique Strauss-Khan, they have not told us much about the real earthquake hitting Europe: a vast social movement which is centred in Spain but which is having an immediate echo in Greece and threatens to break out in other countries as well.

Militant workers' meeting in Alicante, Spain

Our comrades in the Alicante Encounter and Solidarity Network (Red de Encuentro y Solidaridad) and in the L'Escletxa collective organised a meeting to discuss and support the workers' struggle on 11th and 12th February. They examined the experience of the struggles in France and Barcelona. The declared aim of this meeting was: “To work together for the development of the class struggle”.

Class struggle and its obstacles

World Revolution held its 19th Congress in November 2010. One of the responsibilities of any territorial section of the ICC is to discuss the national situation. It has to analyse the economic crisis, the class struggle, and role played by British imperialism on the world stage. The following article is part of the Resolution on the British Situation adopted by the congress, specifically the section concerning the life of the bourgeoisie and the class struggle.

The Development of the Class Struggle: What Method to Understand It?

In the midst of the barbarity of capitalism, it is the international class struggle that has emerged as the beacon for an alternative. Even though the death agony of capitalism presents it with incredibly daunting difficulties, the working class world-wide has not been a passive by-stander. Its challenge to the capitalist order and its refusal to keep silent and submit to the attacks raining on it are an inspiration for millions of people world-wide, and for the future struggles to come. They are irrefutable proof that, notwithstanding the ebbs and flows of its struggle and the tortuous way in which it develops its class consciousness, it is the working class that is the historic subject of the communist revolution, only alternative to capitalism.

The Present Struggles of the Class: Is the Road Open Toward the Mass Strike?

We think that the recent mobilization in Wisconsin represent a further step forward in the development of the struggles that we saw starting around 2003. We think it is therefore necessary to develop a frame for understanding these recent developments. We will look at the struggles that started in 2003, paying attention in particular to the NYC Transit strike of 2005, and ask the question about how or whether the events in Wisconsin are any different. We hope this will give a better idea of the period we have entered and the perspectives for the future struggles.



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