november 30th reports: sheffield

2 12 2011

Clifford Biddulph reports on the November 30th strike day in Sheffield, which saw little scabbing but a demo no larger than on June 30th.

On the previous strike day in Sheffield on June 30th, the main council unions were not on strike but joined the strike rally at lunch time. Even then as the march passed the council buildings in the city centre, most council workers were at work. This time from early morning the were small groups of pickets at council buildings with trade union flags prominent.

Most of the pickets were Unison.  But there was also a GMB presence. Very few council staff went into work or crossed the picket line. It was mainly managers.  However, Capita, a private company, is contracted to provide some services and their workers went in.  A Unison steward said they had been given permission not to strike. The customers were on strike as well: they obviously thought there would be no service.

There were about 2,000 at the rally and demo, with official trade union flags dominant. The demonstrators were not the usual suspects. I recognised a number of people I would not have expected to be on a demo: many would having their first experience of a demo and political leaflets . We gave out 150 issues of The Commune and 500 leaflets . I had expected about  5,000 on the rally/demo since there were about 2,000 in June when the main council unions were not on strike.

I think this means that, in the main the strike in Sheffield was a passive one, with the vast majority of strikers shopping or staying at home. My impression from conversations prior to the strike was that many simply wanted to avoid picket lines. Some took Thursday and Friday off to have a five-day break.

The various left groups were in attendance, but did not seem to be giving out leaflets apart from the CPGB. I did not see any Socialist Party leaflet, nor were the SWP giving out leaflets. SWP seemed to be unable to sell their paper: given the composition of the rally, this was not suprising. The SP and SWP had few banners, and most of their members were wearing their ‘trade union hats’.

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2 responses

2 12 2011
ann arky

The Glasgow event on November 30 was massive, the BBC put the figure at 10,000 and Edinburgh at 7,000, you can read and publish if you wish, my report on the Glasgow march.

26 12 2011

The strike on 30th November was one of the biggest actions in the history of the British working class, however, it did not break the bounds of bureaucratic control. Having allowed the membership to blow off steam the union leaderships with the exception of the PCS promptly signed up to the most miserable and abject sell out handing over billions of workers money to the Government. This despite the fact that the Government in the shape of Eric Pickles made it abundantly clear they will be back for more soon. Two problems – is it possible to mount a serious campaign against the sellout? Secondly the political question – can workers break away from the social democratic politics of the bureaucracy which lead them to agree with the Government and the ruling class that it is the working class that must pay for the crisis?


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