serwotka sellout sets seal on olympic exploitation

28 07 2012

By Adam Ford

As women footballers were getting ready to unofficially kick off the London Olympics, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union general secretary was preparing to bow to ruling class pressure, and call off a strike of workers in the Border Agency, Criminal Records Bureau, and the Identity and Passport Service. In doing so, darling of the fake left Mark Serwotka was setting the seal on years of collaboration between union officialdom and the London Olympics authorities.

Brendan Barber (TUC), Sebastian Coe (Olympics) and Ed Sweeney (ACAS)

Tomorrow’s aborted strike was originally called as part of a dispute over 8,500 Home Office jobs the PCS say are at risk as a result of government cuts. Had the walkout gone ahead, it would have caused some disruption to last minute Olympics preparations, particularly with spectators, athletes and others in their entourages still arriving in the country.

Serwotka faced a storm of pressure from the right wing abuse over the strike, with the usual papers seizing on the opportunity to bash the supposed “arrogance” of workers choosing to withdraw their labour at a time when it might have most impact. As could be anticipated, the media ‘debate’ weighed heavily on the ‘national pride’ side of the Olympics, and against working class consciousness. Read the rest of this entry »

all out at preston remploy

26 07 2012

Mark Harrison visited Remploy pickets taking part in a national strike this morning

There used to be over 50 workers at the Remploy factory in Preston, now reduced to only 18, each of them was out on the picket line for the second day of their national strike, 100% turn outs were also reported at Heywood and Wigan. Support came from BAE and Rolls-Royce workers as well as teachers, passing council refuse workers and ex-Remploy workers who had taken advantage of previous redundancy packages.

The government has been Orwellian in claiming they are helping disabled people into work whilst sacking them from their jobs. In Preston the workers were shown 6 job opportunities to apply for, each of these positions turned out to already have been filled. One ex-Remploy worker had found work on the railways and promised 20 hours a week of work, only to be told upon arriving for his induction that he was only going to be offered a zero hours contract. Read the rest of this entry »

spanish miners strike back against austerity

30 06 2012

By Adam Ford

Two sets of miners have now been occupying their workplace for a month

Spanish miners are now a month into action against the Popular Party government, and behind them the international banking aristocracy, as they demonstrate against 60% cuts in subsidies, which are expected to result in the loss of 40,000 jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

london busworkers: olympic 500 – phoney war or wages battle?

9 06 2012

First published in Solidarity Forever, paper of London Regional Committee IWW(IWGB), which comprises the London Busworkers Branch (IU IU530)

The union Unite has raised the profile of the campaign to secure a £500 bonus payment for the 28,000 bus workers in London. Leaflets, posters and even executive members have appeared in some garages. The demand for the bonus is just. The increased revenue the bus companies will make during the Olympics will more than cover the cost of a bonus in recognition of the even more stress and demands placed on bus workers. However, this issue raises far wider questions. The campaign has placed on the agenda the more important issue of the steady deterioration of bus workers wages and working conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

why the phony war?

6 06 2012

London based college worker Siobhan Breathnach writes about the top down nature of the UK public sector pensions dispute

We got notice of the 10th of May strike on a Friday afternoon ten days before, in the middle of an emergency meeting about redundancies. The first response was “They have got to be fucking kidding.” There was a general expression of dismay and disbelief. So what is the problem? Why weren’t we pleased about being called out? Read the rest of this entry »

strikes and solidarity

3 02 2012

If this year’s strikes are to have power, we must take our lead from the electricians, bypassing union attempts at defusion by offering each other solidarity in new ways and across artificial divides, writes Deb Harris.

Solidarity is illegal. Thatcher said so. She only permits us to strike if we have a specific and identifiable common complaint – we are not allowed to strike together in recognition of the general horror. In 2011, submissive as ever, the unions found the only thing that the public sector can legally unite around – pensions – and conveniently forgot that everyone is angry about a lot more than that. Their speeches, placards and leaflets were all about pensions. As if we had given up on anything but retirement. Read the rest of this entry »

sparks defy anti-union laws with massive wildcat strike

9 12 2011

Adam Ford writes on an exciting development in electricians’ dispute as the ‘Sparks’ launched a wildcat strike against 35% pay cuts.

Hundreds of electricians took wildcat strike action on Wednesday, defying the bosses who want to slash their wages, the anti-union laws which the bosses use to pick holes in strike mandates, and the union bureacracy which had to be dragged kicking and screaming to holding a ballot at all. The country’s biggest ‘unofficial’ walkout in decades represents a new stage in the UK class war – a stage in which workers recognise the limitations of their own leaderships, and consciously move beyond them. By cutting out the utterly compromised middle men and women in this way, working people come face to face with their ultimate enemy – huge corporations and the capitalist state.

I’ve been reporting on the rank-and-file Sparks movement since early autumn, when electricians angry at proposed pay cuts of 35% started their own rank-and-file organisation, with the aim of pressurising union tops into leading a struggle for their members’ livelihoods. Instead, as the Sparks’ resistance increased, so did the machinations of the bureaucracy. As early as September, negotiator Bernard McAulay was slandering the workers as “cancerous”, but he gradually wormed himself back into a position of influence. Read the rest of this entry »

on the desperate struggles in france

9 12 2011

A fascinating article from the website looks at the practice of kidnapping bosses during strikes in France, and how new means and objectives of struggle fit into the crisis of Fordism.


After a short wave at the beginning of the century, instances of proletarians taking their bosses hostage or threatening to blow up their factories reappeared in 2009, and have since become something of a trend. We can now count as many as twenty cases since the beginning of 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

commune leaflet for 30th november

26 11 2011

The Commune’s leaflet for Wednesday’s strike looks at how we can escalate the fight against cuts, and how this fits into the goal of revolutionising society. Click the image to see the PDF.

If you would like to meet up with us on the day in your city, email That afternoon we are also having a public meeting in Sheffield on the communist alternative view of public services and the ‘welfare state’ – see here. Read the rest of this entry »

N30: there is an alternative

5 11 2011

On 30th November (‘N30’) the UK will see the biggest day yet of strike action by public sector workers as part of a fight against the government’s austerity plans. Over twenty unions representing 3 million public sector workers will strike over government attempts to significantly increase employee contributions while reducing employer contributions to pension schemes, raise the retirement age, and drastically reduce pension pay-outs to workers. Workers in both the public and private sectors are facing similar job cuts.

This strike, as well as the square occupations and the recent electricians’ strike over pay cuts are part of a broader struggle against austerity sweeping across the world. Read the rest of this entry »

cleaning up the industry

10 10 2011

Siobhan Breathnach writes on a fresh turn in cleaners’ fight for a living wage

Cleaners in two workplaces in London have been striking for better pay and conditions. Both strikes, in the Guildhall in the City of London, and Senate House, University of London, started over unpaid wages.

In the Guildhall, cleaners walked out twice over unpaid wages. After they received what was owed to them, they started a series of demonstrations demanding the London Living Wage (LLW) and an end to abusive treatment. In the middle of the campaign, the cleaning contractor changed from Ocean to Sodexho, who started bullying the cleaners straight away. After two days they suspended the union rep, which the cleaners responded to with a noisy emergency protest.

Read the rest of this entry »

pickets and porkie pies at fujitsu

7 10 2011

Mark Harrison visited the Fujitsu picket in Manchester for the latest in a series of strikes

On the morning of 19th September  I attended a picket and rally of Fujitsu workers at their site in Manchester. Ostensibly in opposition to Fujitsu failing to honour certain aspects of an agreement brokered with the ACAS arbitration service, the strikers were walking the line in defence of Alan Jenney (Deputy Chair of the Unite union’s Fujitsu UK Combine Committee and Unite rep at Fujitsu’s site in Crewe) who has clearly been singled out for compulsory redundancy due to his trade union activities.

Fujitsu promises: porkie pies

Unite had been co-ordinating with the Public and Commercial Services (PCS)union whose members working for Fujitsu were due to strike simultaneously due to a pay dispute. Industrial action by around 720 PCS members was called off at the last minute once Fujitsu agreed a pay offer at twice the rate of inflation. Read the rest of this entry »

petrochemical workers in mahshahr join those in tabriz on strike

4 10 2011

Communique from striking workers in southern Iran, translated for the International Association in Support of Iranian Workers.

More than 70% of Iranian workers are on contracts and work under very hard conditions. 80% of them are beneath the poverty line. Workplaces with fewer than ten workers are not even controlled by labour legislation. There are contracts known as “blank signatures”, which means no term of employment is given. The average wage for workers was aprox £190 a month in 2010 for the poorest 8 million workers, not counting those who work in factories with fewer than ten workers. The lack of health and employment legislation as well non payment of wages for up to eighteen months in some cases, are the some of the harshest working conditions. Read the rest of this entry »


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