strikes

Graphed: strike days versus inequality

High-res version here.

1. Labour call in the International Monetary fund (IMF), marking the end of the post-war setttlement and the beginning of rising inequality. This came despite several years of the TUC agreeing to hold down pay.

2. Workers respond with a wave of strikes, many of them unofficial. These culminate in the ‘Winter of discontent’ in 1978/9.

3. Thatcher’s Tory government smashes the workers’ movement, leading to a dramatic fall in strike days and a corresponding rise in inequality.

Dingle community keeps up the fight for Shorefields

Teachers at Shorefields College in the Dingle have once again taken strike action against the possibility of the school becoming an academy. The latest day of action has seen the fight grow, with support staff in the GMB walking out alongside teachers from the NUT and NASUWT.

The picket line was well supported. Parents, teachers and support staff were joined by several pupils from the school - whilst members of the Merseyside Network Against Fees and Cuts, Liverpool Trades Council and Liverpool Solidarity Federation were amongst those who turned up in support. The Liverpool Socialist Choir also added a bit of noise to the event, providing lively renditions of workers and trade union songs, old and new.

India: Suzuki strike

AROUND 2,000 workers at the Maruti Suzuki car plant in Manesar, India have been taking unofficial strike action demanding the recognition of a new union formed by workers in the plant. Around 1,000 other workers from other workplaces have been rallying outside the plant in solidarity.

Meanwhile a committee of representatives from workers’ organisations in the Gurgaon-Manesar region has been formed to support the strike, and has declared its intention to join the strike if their demands are not met.

“If the issues are not resolved immediately, then a similar strike can happen in other factories in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt,” AITUC Gurgaon District Secretary Harjeet Grover, who is also the General Secretary of HMSI Employees Union, told the Indian press.

Chile: Dockworkers walk out, blockade port

STRIKE ACTION at Puerto Lirquen, Chile has seen workers blockading the port with barricades made from burning tyres. Guillermo Ascuí, the treasurer of the workers’ union said the company was guilty of serious labour abuses which had motivated the strike. Around 300 workers attended a mass meeting and decided to continue the strike until the authorities intervened to force the company to negotiate. They have so far been refusing to meet with workers’ representatives to discuss their demands.

Strikes in Britain: a selected timeline

1888 - The Matchgirls Strike: Successful strike against poor working conditions in a match factory, including 14-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus.

1901 - Taff Vale dispute: Strikers employ sabotage tactics to prevent scabs working, and the company sues the union for damages - and wins. This would lead to the formation of the Labour Party.

Don't work - a very dangerous idea

THE CO-ORDINATED strikes on June 30th have put strike action back on the agenda. Business Secretary Vince Cable recently threatened to tighten the law if big strikes take place, while media commentators have been falling over themselves to label strike action a relic from a bygone age. So what are strikes, and why are they important now?

Canada: locked out postal workers occupy depot

FOLLOWING WEEKS of rolling strike action in a dispute over ‘modernisation’, Canada Post locked out its 50,000 workers on the night of 14 June. The last time the union went on strike was in 1997 when the workers were off the job for two weeks before being forced back to work by federal legislation. Winnipeg postal worker Michelle Fidler explained “nobody ever got rich working at Canada Post in the position I’m in. I make ends meet. I don’t have a fancy car or a big house, and I work hard. And I don’t think the general public knows exactly how difficult that job is.”

Stop work to stop the cuts?

WHAT DOES it take to stop the cuts? June 30th represents the first co-ordinated strike action against austerity, under the pretext of defending pensions, due to the legal restrictions on joint strikes. But how do hundreds of thousands of people stopping work help stop the government?

At first glance, it might not seem to make sense. Cuts, we are told, are a response to a struggling economy. So why try and harm the economy by shutting large parts of it down for the day? But turn the question around, and what other option do we have?

Training Organisers in the Education Industry

In preparation for the upcoming June 30th strike, yesterday saw the North London Solidarity Federation host an organiser training specifically designed for workers and students in the education industry.

Coming out of a public meeting hosted by NLSF last month, militant education workers and radical students opted to have a training geared toward their specific issues. For SF it was the first time we attempted to tailor our training for students and all agreed it was a success. While the issues varied from participant to participant—from making sure June 30th is a success to planning occupations—everyone left the training with an increased sense of confidence and strategy to take back to their schools on Monday morning.