unions against the working class

Spain: how can workers respond to an economy in dire straits?

The working class in Spain is facing particularly harsh austerity measures. The explosive economic crisis is making the social situation equally tense. The anniversary of the 15M and the events surrounding it was followed by the start of a strike by 8,000 miners, mainly in Asturias, against the withdrawal of EU coalmining subsidies which will totally undermine the industry, threatening 40,000 jobs. This article aims to contribute to the discussion on what we can learn from both the anniversary of 15M and from the miners’ strike.

Massive mobilisations in Spain, Mexico, Italy, India: The union barrier against self-organisation and unification of struggles

While governments of every country are bent on imposing more and more violent austerity plans, the mobilisations of 2011 – the movement of the Indignant in Spain, Greece, etc., and the occupations in the United States and other countries – continued during the first quarter of 2012. However, the struggles came up against a powerful union mobilisation that managed to seriously hold back the process of self-organisation and unification, which began in 2011. How do we get out from under the unions’ thumb? How do we once again find and revive the tendencies that appeared in 2011? We are going to try to give some elements of a response to these questions.

Wisconsin Recall Election: The Ballot Box and the Unions Are Not Weapons of the Working Class Struggle

The bourgeois media on both the left and right are abuzz with the cacophony of analysis over the June 5th recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. They pose to “explain” why, in a state where only 16 months earlier over 200,000 public sector workers and students walked off of their jobs and out of their classrooms to occupy the state capitol and challenge the Governor’s proposed changes to state law that would have seriously restricted the collective bargaining process for public sector unions, Scott Walker has survived the recall effort and retained his position.  

Bosses back off but we still can’t trust the unions!

After six months of struggle against the BESNA agreement which would have meant pay cuts of up to 33%, serious deskilling throughout the building industry, and unemployment for all those refusing to sign the new contracts, the electricians have forced the bosses to back off. Following a failed injunction against an imminent official national strike called by the Unite union, the main BESNA signatory, Balfour Beatty, announced that it was dropping plans to bring in the BESNA agreement, and most of the other firms involved have now followed suit.

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.

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.

Public Employee “Union Busting” in Wisconsin and Elsewhere: The Ideological Decay of the U.S. Bourgeoisie Deepens

The situation in Wisconsin has calmed considerably from the turmoil we described at the end of February. Although Republican/Tea Party Governor Scott Walker was able to use questionable parliamentarian maneuvers to ram his “union busting” bill through the state legislature, there has been no general strike as the unions promised and protests at the state Capitol building have steadily dwindled. Although the national union apparatus treated us to a “day of action” in major cities across the country, the focus of events in Wisconsin has shifted to the shady world of bourgeois legalism, as the unions—along with their Democratic and “progressive” allies—engage in a court room battle to prevent enforcement of the Republicans’ multi-faceted bill to attack public employee unions.

Struggles of Uttar Pradesh road transport workers, defeated by unions

Transport workers all over India are severely exploited. Whether drivers, conductors or workshop workers, all suffer the same conditions: low wages, long and irregular working hours, tough conditions of work, relentless oppression and persecution by bosses. This is daily grind of their daily life. This is true of workers of state road transport corporations as well, of Delhi Transport Corporation workers in the capital where the bourgeoisie has no qualms in spending any sums for exhibition of its ‘prestige’ in spectacles like Commonwealth games. The conditions of Uttar Pradesh road transport workers are no different from others.

The TUC’s false alternative

Maybe half a million people were on the TUC’s March for the Alternative on 26 March. From demo veterans to those on their first ever protest, all were shepherded from the Embankment to Hyde Park by a combination of police and union stewards.

The real role of the TUC: policing the class struggle

For its 26 March demonstration against government cuts the TUC are setting up a call in centre at their Congress House HQ in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police. Any information sent in by TUC stewards will go straight to the cops. Not only do the unions act with the police, they act as the police in workers’ struggles. They have also undermined any initiatives towards solidarity with the militant actions of students.

Leftist networks help unions regain control

As any reader of the Daily Mail will know there was “at least one” member of the ICC in at least one meeting of the Education Activist Network in London. But contrary to hysterical media articles, the present student movement against cuts and increased fees is not the creation of either the ICC or the EAN. Nor even of the EAN’s rival National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. On the contrary, among the most positive signs of militancy has been the ability of the movement to escape the control of the NUS or any other organisation set up in advance to drive in a particular direction


Struggling behind the unions leads to defeat

The movement of struggle against the pension reforms has lasted eight months so far. Workers and employees of all sectors have regularly come into the streets in their millions. Since September more or less radical strike movements have appeared here and there, expressing a profound and growing discontent. This mobilisation is the broadest in France since the crisis which shook the world financial system in 2007-8.
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