Postal workers - taking no shit

In 2000, over half the strike days in Britain were in the Post Office. Most were unofficial. The run-up to the New Year saw plenty of direct action, with royal mail workers walking out across Britain. In particular, Mersyside postal workers weren't afraid to show their anger at management tactics. Bootle were out, which spread to Liverpool, while Frodsham (30 staff) came out in November. Then West Derby in Liverpool (70 staff) were out between Christmas and New Year.

Hackney Showdown

Workers at the London Borough of Hackney went on strike on Tuesday 1st May over widespread attacks on pay and conditions. The action follows 24-hour stoppages in December and March, and a three-day stoppage in January.

Meanwhile, all sections have been applying localised “withdrawal of goodwill” to fit the problems workers face in their own sections. This means going back to not covering for vacancies, working to grade and job description, not doing extra hours, etc. Not only does this link in with the corporate dispute, but it also gives workers a chance to take direct action over issues which immediately affect them, and to gain confidence from immediate results.

Workers escalate year-long strike

Workers in Hackney's libraries have been on strike for over a year - in fact, every Saturday since 24th November 2001. They are calling for mass pickets of Hackney Central, Stoke Newington and Shoreditch Libraries to prevent scab labour recruited by the Labour-controlled Council from opening them. These pickets will take place on the first Saturday the scabs are called in, probably 7th December, and on each subsequent Saturday until they are withdrawn.

Friends of the Earth... but not of their workers?

In October, workers at Bristol's domestic recycling collection service owned by Avon Friends of the Earth started a campaign of industrial action. They are demanding an end to compulsory overtime, a standard 40-hour week and strong measures to deal with the hostile, duplicitous and uncooperative management at Resourcesaver. Talks between UNISON and Resourcesaver ground to a halt because of unacceptable preconditions demanded by Resourcesaver, namely dropping one of the key members of the UNISON negotiating team, who is an elected representative! As a response to this, Unison members voted unanimously to hold a further 2-day strike that began on the 6th November.

Pay sell-out

While the fire-fighters seem to be leading a second “Winter of Discontent”, echoing 1978-79, July's media fad of a “Summer of Discontent” didn't happen. Although the Government's policy of not paying Local Government workers decent wages initially appeared to have finally provoked a coordinated response, Labour can still rely on some unions to control their members for the good of the Party.

Council workers' strike

Workers ranging from refuse collectors and school dinner ladies to architects were due to walkout for 24 hours in protest at controversial Government plans to raise their pension age from 60 to 65. But just as the Council workers were set to strike, the unions called off the action, after the Government backed down on its plans to make changes to the local government pension schemes.

It shows how the threat of direct action can achieve desired results. The only problem on this occasion is it only forced the Government back to the negotiating table.Time will tell if this is simply a ploy to delay matters until after an election.

Council workers need to be ready to take further action if it is needed. And putting the unions in a position of strength means not letting the bureaucrats throw it all away.

Day of action for sacked Peruvian garment workers

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation have held an informational picket outside Zara, in Liverpool One, and handed out leaflets to customers, staff, and passers-by.

Despite some attention from security guards, who informed us we couldn’t operate on private property, we were able to hand out all our leaflets and our action was generally well received. One woman even came over as we were packing away to inquire what we were up to, and offered her support when we explained what we had been doing and why.

This was part of international solidarity actions supported by the International Workers Association (IWA) for workers in Peru, in response to the sacking of 35 trade unionists. The union members were working in a factory for ‘Topy Top’, one of the major suppliers to high street store Zara, and also a supplier for Gap.

General strike 2010 – Barcelona

Two members of Liverpool SolFed recently visited Barcelona to show solidarity during the Spanish general strike of September 29th. They report:

During our stay in Barcelona we visited the Banesto building on Plaça de Catalunya which had been occupied for several days by anti-capitalists. They used the derelict space to celebrate resistance, as well as freely exchange information and radical ideas. However the building was later brutally repossessed by riot police.

On the day of the general strike, we joined a lively demonstration of several thousand organized by our sister organisation, the CNT, who put forward a much more militant message of resistance compared to that of the reformist trade unions.

Looking back at the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike

In March 1984, twenty five years ago, the National Coal Board announced it intended to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. Cortonwood in South Yorkshire was earmarked as the first to close, “imminently”, in the words of the NCB chairman, Ian MacGregor. The miners at Cortonwood immediately came out on strike and by March 12th the National Union of Mineworkers had made the strike national. This was to become the bitterest industrial dispute in most of our lifetimes and marked a major defeat for the working class.