Class struggle

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 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).

Oaxaca, Mexico: Unions Derail Teachers' Strike

The deepening of the crisis makes the workers’ conditions of life worse by the day and engenders expressions of real discontent.  In the ICC press, we have written about the important mobilizations of the French workers and students against the CPE.  The strikes of the metal workers in Spain have expressed a similar decisiveness, combativeness, and clarity, even though they have not had the same magnitude.

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...

Recent student movement for and against reservation in India

93RD Amendment of Indian constitution and the policy of hike in reservation by the ‘United Progressive Alliance’-Government.

Again after a decade and more Indian government has added new fuel to the fire of discontent of the youth and students by modifying the existing policy of reservation and has decided to implement a hike in reservation from 22.5% to 50% at one blow especially in higher studies and professional courses like medical, engineering and management courses in April06 in accordance with the 93rd amendment of he Indian constitution, adopted in last December 2005;

The Working Class in the US Returns to the Path of the Class Struggle

Clearly the proletariat in the U.S. is completely inscribed in the same generalized return to struggle that has been occurring on the international level since 2003, as the world working class struggles to emerge from the disorientation, confusion and reflux in consciousness that ensued after the fall of the two bloc system at the end of the 1980s, which was so deep and so profound that in many ways the proletariat, while not defeated in the historic sense, experienced great difficulty in even recognizing is own identity as a class and in having confidence in itself as a class with the capacity to defend itself.

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”.

Vauxhall: massive walkout against lay-offs

The article below was written and published on our website a few days before General Motors confirmed that 900 jobs were to go at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant. The government sent Gordon Brown and the Trade Minister Alistair Darling to reassure the workers that “We will do what we can for each and every one of the workforce who may lose their jobs” but the workers know how tough it is going to be to find similar work, which partially explains why the wildcat strike was supported so solidly...


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