Class struggle

Strikes on French railways

There has been a real development of workers' militancy in recent weeks. Strikes have broken out in all sorts of places against the violent attacks directed at the working class. Numerous sectors have been affected: private and public, industry and sed public, industry and services. To refer only to the ones that got some mention in the daily press: the strike at Alcatel against 12,000 job cuts; the strike at Elf in Pau against the plan to get rid of 1250 jobs; strikes at Nice airport against the introduction of short-term contracts; a series of strikes against the introduction of the 35-hour week; at Elf Atochem, at Cegetel, but also in cleaning firms; in bus companies, food and distribution. Walk-outs at Peugeot against the new shifts involved in the 35-hour week. The TV and the daily papers have said nothing about these last struggles. Or about the numerous strikes that have been breaking out on an almost daily basis in the hospitals and the postal service against job cuts and worsening conditions of work.

Class struggle in the USA

In the last issue of WR we carried an article on the railway strike in France. This strike took place against a background of growing discontent and agitation in numerous sectors of the working class. This movement was particularly significant in that it has developed during the Balkans war and despite the campaigns of the ruling class to strengthen the ideology of "national unity" around"national unity" around the war effort. In early June, there was a further expression of this combative mood in the working class: a spontaneous strike around the question of safety in the metro, which rapidly spread to the whole of the metro system and the urban railway in Paris, and also to transport workers in Marseilles and Lyon. Although quickly isolated by the unions, the speed of the workers' reaction was above all an expression of an exasperation with deteriorating wages and working conditions that is common to wide layers of the working class.

The revival of class struggle and the dangers of radical unionism

We are seeing the return of the wildcat strike, with unofficial walkouts in the post and the civil service, by fire-fighters and by BA workers at Heathrow. In the context of the developments in the struggle of the working class internationally this year, and particularly the large strikes and demonstrations against the attacks on pensions in France and Austria (see WR 266 and IR 114), this is a small sign of increasing militancy.

The bourgeoisie uses 'popular protest' to hide the class struggle

The crisis of capitalism is making living conditions worse for virtually everyone, causing a great deal of anger among workers and other sections of the population. This growing discontent has been channelled into a number of protest demonstrations. In particular we have seen the ‘anti-capitalist’ demonstrations outside the World Economic Forum in Melbourne and the World Bank and IMF in Prague; the opposition protests against Milosevic in Serbia; and the blockades of oil refineries in Britain and various European countries.

Massive workers' unrest in Belgium

In addition to its breadth, an extremely important feature of this movement was that many of the strikes broke out spontaneously, and in some cases there were signs of direct conflict between workers and the trade unions, whose job it is to control the working class on behalf of the capitalist state:

After 20 years: Lessons of the miners' strike are still relevant

There have been a number of TV programmes and newspaper articles over the last month commemorating the British miners' strike of 1984/85 that began precisely 20 years ago in March. They all, either directly or indirectly, pay lip-service to the great courage and endurance of the miners in their battle to defend their jobs and living standards. Nonetheless, they in effect write the strike off as politically nave faced with a ruthless right wing government, economically pointless once the coal industry had been exposed to the laws of the capitalist market, and undemocratic, insofar as it is perceived to have rejected the ballot box and resorted to physical violence in trying to stop the movements of coal. The logical conclusion they draw from this is that the defeat of the miners' strike effectively signalled the death knell for the class struggle in Britain and by implication, beyond Britain too. 'Anti-globalisation' guru George Monbiot made this explicit recently in one of his big Guardian articles, saying that the last 20 years have seen the "collapse of the proletariat as a political force". The historical context

Daimler/Chrysler: The answer to the capitalist crisis, workers' solidarity

In mid-July Daimler-Chrysler in Germany posed an ultimatum to 41,000 workers in Sindelfingen (Stuttgart) to agree to wage cuts and changes in working conditions or have production of a new Mercedes transferred to South Africa. This lead to strikes and demonstrations by 60,000 (out of 160,00) Daimler workers across Germany, with great expressions of anger and solidarity from other workers. The IG Metall union and Daimler soon stitched up a deal which provoked further anger from workers shouting that the union had no right to sign such a deal in their name. This was a defeat for the workers, but they do know that the union was involved. This article is from Welt Revolution 125, the ICC's publication in Germany, and was distributed as a leaflet when company/union negotiations were still going on. The ICC in Germany has never had such an enthusiastic reception to a leaflet, which confirmed that the question of militant solidarity is really being posed in the working class.

Strikes in hospitals in Buenos Aries

The Argentinean public employees who work for the state at national, provincial or municipal level are divided up by the artificial separation imposed by the constitution of the bourgeois state in 1853 and the various reforms that followed; but they are also divided by the activities of those other agents of the capitalist state, the trade unions. The public employees are affiliated to a myriad of union organisations, and this division has been institutionalised by capitalist legislation itself, such as the law on professional associations.

A turning point in the class struggle

The acceleration of the world crisis of capitalism is more and more reducing the margin of manoeuvre open to the bourgeoisie, which, in the logic of capitalist exploitation, has no choice but to attack the living standards of the entire working class head-on and with increasing violence.

Class struggles in France, spring 2003: the massive attacks of capital demand a mass response from the working class

Faced with the head-on attack on pensions in France and Austria, all sectors of the working class have joined the struggle with a determination unknown since the end of the 1980s. In France, weeks of repeated demonstrations brought together hundreds of thousands of workers from both public and private sector: 1½ million workers were in streets of the main cities in France on the 13th May, almost one million took part in a single demonstration in Paris on the 25th May, and on the third of June 750,000 more people mobilised...


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