Union manouevres

May 10: Unions divide public sector workers

The attacks on workers’ pensions - the increase in contributions toward pensions, and the increases in the age for getting pensions - have been met with anger wherever they’ve been proposed or introduced. Unions have been loud in their criticisms of the attacks. In many countries there have been demonstrations and strikes over the issue, for example in Greece where there’s been a 25% cut in basic pension rates. However, the example of Britain shows that these union-led mobilisations have tended to divide rather than unite different sectors of the working class.

All-India workers’ strike of 28 February 2012: General strike or union ritual?

The general strike called by trade unions representing 100 millions workers spread all across India took place on 28 Feb 2012. All national unions, belonging to all political parties, including the Hindu fundamentalist BJP, joined the strike, as did thousands of local and regional unions. It is clear that unions did not use the strike to mobilise workers, to bring them onto the streets and unify them. They used it as a ritual, as a means to let off steam, to keep workers apart, to keep them passive and demobilised.

Towards general assemblies in India

Up to 100 million workers were involved in a one day strike in India on 28 February. A strike that hit a number of sectors across the country was hailed by some as one of the world’s biggest ever strikes. However, the demands, as put forward by the unions, all make the assumption that the capitalist government of India is capable of responding to the needs of other classes.

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.

In Madison and Elsewhere, Defense of the Unions Prepares the Workers’ Defeat

After weeks of protests that drew national and even international attention, the streets of Madison are again empty. Scott Walker’s state-budget repair bill has passed (pending a court appeal delay), and where cries of “general strike” once rang through crowds of thousands of demonstrators, the air is silent and workers are back at work. The union leaders scramble to push through all the Governor’s economic demands in exchange for the right to “collectively bargain” one last contract. Workers’ action has been reduced to the signing of petitions to recall state senators. While some groups are trying to resuscitate the movement, it has mostly been defeated. The question is: why?

Our alternative:resist the capitalist regime!

When we are taking part in demonstrations, whether local rallies or big national marches, let’s use them to make links between different centres of resistance, different sectors of the working class. Let’s organise our own street meetings where instead of listening to celebrity speakers we can freely exchange experiences from our own struggles and prepare for the battles of the future. Let all those who stand for independent, self-organised workers’ struggles use them as an opportunity to meet up and decide on how to connect to wider numbers of their class.

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