Class Power on Zero-Hours - Introduction

Class Power on Zero-Hours - Introduction

Introduction to our upcoming book. Our book tour is messed up by the virus - so please circulate online and order the book for your time of self-isolation: www.classpower.net

Introduction

In January 2014 we chose to move to a working class neighbourhood on the fringes of west London. We felt an urgent need to break out of the cosmopolitan bubble and root our politics in working class jobs and lives. We wanted to pay more than just lip service to the classic slogan, ‘the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves.’ Over the next six years, comrades joined us and we worked in a dozen different warehouses and factories. We organised slowdowns on shop floors, rocked up on bosses’ and landlords’ doors with our solidarity network, and banged our heads against brick walls as shop stewards in the bigger unions. We wrote up all our successes, as well as the dead-ends, in our publication, WorkersWildWest, which we gave out to 2,000 local workers at warehouse gates at dawn. We tried to rebuild class power and create a small cell of a revolutionary organisation. This book documents our experiences. It is material for getting rooted. It is a call for an independent working class organisation.

At the time, we didn’t have to leave ‘careers’ to do this. We were either already doing blue collar jobs or floating about in Berlin, not really sure what to do next. One of us had worked in NGOs for ten years, leaving the sector with a sense that ‘everything is corrupt’ and trying to ‘change government policy’ was a waste of time. It therefore wasn’t a massive leap to decide to move to a working class area where there were larger, more ‘strategic’ workplaces to get jobs in. It didn’t feel like ‘dropping out’ as much as getting ‘plugged in’. A lot of people we knew were either doing boring office jobs, lonely PhDs, or burning out in their pursuit of a high-flying career. So we didn’t have too much FOMO.

We weren’t part of a bigger group at the time, so our only option was to lead by example. Get cracking and fingers crossed, people would hear about our efforts and join us. This was going to be a hard sell. Nobody on the London left had even heard of Greenford, not surprising due to its status as a cultural desert, in zone four on the Central line. But it’s where we chose to go, having done a few walkabouts beforehand to check out the scene. First impressions are that it’s a totally nondescript place where people are simply getting on with their humdrum lives. However, we quickly came to realise that this was a place that epitomised the daily realities behind the sensational headlines of the times: ‘the flood of Polish immigration’; ‘the scourge of zero-hours contracts’; the phenomenon of low wage growth and high employment; migrants in low-skilled work; the growth in warehousing and logistics; the low-waged sector boom after the financial crash in 2008; the hype of automation and robots taking over our jobs. Many left-wing commentators weigh in on these topics, but do they really have a clue what they’re talking about? By getting rooted in areas like this, we would be in a much better position to find out.

The endz

When you leave the tube station, the first thing you see is the Polish shop over the road. Next to that is a barbers, an estate agent and a chicken shop. You turn left, go under the railway bridge and Railway pub, past the bus stop that gets very overcrowded at certain times of the day with workers wearing high-vis jackets, another fifty metres further along and you hit the industrial estates and logistics parks. These include Tesco and Sainsbury’s distribution centres, a massive Royal Mail depot and a globally connected vegetable packing factory. The area is a mix of warehouses surrounded by overcrowded suburban residences. Greenford is small enough that people work and live locally, but big enough for us to not be blacklisted too soon once we started agitating with our co-workers. It was also a convenient bus ride from the Park Royal industrial area, one of the biggest in Europe and where one of us would later get a job at a food processing plant, as well as Heathrow Airport, probably London’s biggest workplace. It is locally concentrated and, at the same time, internationally connected. We were on a stretch called the ‘western corridor’, the main artery into London from the west, dotted with workplaces that made use of the global and national transport links. 60% of the food consumed in London is processed, packaged and circulated along this ‘western corridor.’ This area typified one of capitalism’s main contradictions: that workers have enormous potential power as a group, especially if they could affect food supplies into London, at the same time that they are individually weak. This is due to the fact that they have to scrape a living in the government-led ‘hostile environment’, with few social safety nets and effective organs to fight back against deteriorating working conditions in the modern low-waged sector. As revolutionaries, we wanted to support some self-organisation amongst these workers who have largely been ignored and neglected by the left.

So we packed our bags and headed from east to west London – a real culture shock! From inner city housing estates and vibrant food markets to rows of suburban terraces and golf courses. We got a £450 a month room in a shared house advertised in a local newsagent’s window, paid the deposit and moved in. It was easy to get jobs. You just needed to sign up with a local temp agency, of which there were several, and they would send you somewhere the next day. We knocked up a CV and typed up our own reference letters (they weren’t checked anyway). Initially it was just the two of us, but over the years we were joined by other comrades from Hackney and Essex, as well as further afield: Poland, Spain, Slovenia, Australia, India, and France.

Between us we worked at a lot of local workplaces. One of us worked at the Jack Wills fashion warehouse, eyeing up the hundred pound bags that were unceremoniously wrapped in plastic and gathering dust on a bottom shelf. We were made to run around with trolleys made of cardboard, picking items and putting back returns, having to meet high targets, your speed being measured with a scanning device – all in boiling hot temperatures and under the brutal surveillance of a petite Nazi woman from Poland. One of us worked in a garden furniture warehouse, three of us worked at the Sainsbury’s chilled distribution centre, and one of us spent six months stealing samples from a Neal’s Yard cosmetics warehouse – where they certainly weren’t treating their workers more ethically than their botanical ingredients. One of us drove around on an electric cart, lugging drinks around to be sent to Waitrose supermarkets. One of us worked at a 3D printer assembly plant, getting an insight into what’s behind all this talk about ‘liberating technology.’ One of us did a hectic unpaid trial at the Charlie Bigham’s food factory, another at a factory that makes Indian fried snacks and samosas on piece-rate. One of us was a Bendi forklift driver, filling up on fry-ups in the free canteen at Alpha LSG, an airline caterer. We waited on business twats at a Premier Inn hotel, swept leaves and collected bins with Amey, outsourced to do the street cleansing for Ealing Council. But we spent the most blood, sweat and tears at two places: as a delivery driver for supermarket giant Tesco, and as a forklift driver at a food manufacturing factory, Bakkavor, which supplies all the major supermarkets with houmous and ready-meals. Our work and organising reports from these employers make up the biggest section of this book, in chapters 7-10.

Where we’re coming from

A lot of stuff has been written over the last few years about the conditions of modern workplaces. From the journalist ‘going undercover’ to work at Amazon, to the whistleblowing headlines from Sports Direct where “a woman gives birth in toilet because she was afraid of missing her shift”. These ‘exposés’ reveal a few things. Firstly, they all subscribe to the idea of workers as ‘victims’. They are downtrodden and nobody is fighting for them. Secondly, they usually reveal a migrant workforce, and as such, they are indirectly blamed for a worsening of conditions because they are putting up with what ‘British’ workers wouldn’t. Rarely are their voices even heard above the liberal-lefty outrage at the ‘Dickensian’ conditions. Thirdly, unions are either absent, or using media coverage to promote themselves as the ‘saviours’ who will represent the interests of these voiceless worker victims. Lastly, they give zero indication of workers’ own recourse to action in these situations. Apart from ‘joining a union’, which, in our experience, often jointly presides over such misery with management, there are no hints that workers can, and are, fighting back.

One aim is to do the opposite of all that. Firstly, this isn’t a book about ‘journalistic impressions’, where we fly in and out of crap jobs, merely describing and complaining about the ‘terrible’ conditions. We intervene in the class struggle. This doesn’t mean going in and telling our workmates what to do. Like everyone else, we spend time finding our feet and working out what’s what. We learn from each other, but we’re not shy about providing support where we can to encourage some roots of wider self-awareness, self-confidence and collective action. This book attempts to document this effort. A revolutionary organisation should exist and act within the class, not in its place, or as outsiders. The program doesn’t exist on paper.

Secondly, we put a spotlight on what workers are doing themselves, what we have tried to do with our workmates, what worked, what didn’t, and why. Only by basing our politics on direct experiences like this, where we are putting down roots in working class areas, rather than just knocking on their door when election time swings around, can we build a real, grassroots counter-power – one that actually involves working class people! It’s definitely not as glamorous as a young and hip Corbynista party. It’s a hard slog, what with the dawn rises and monotonous work. But it’s a relief to not have to pretend you love your job. And there’s a real pleasure in getting to know people that many on the left just read about or claim to speak for.

We are publishing this book at a time when many on the left are licking their wounds, despondent at their missed opportunity to implement a socialist program through the Labour Party. The calls for a ‘period of self-reflection’ about how to ‘reconnect with working class voters’, however, have been largely sucked back towards the navel, as commentators and leftist groups at the start of 2020 now obsess over the Labour leadership race. We’re not sure when ‘voting’ and ‘elections’ became the only fodder for far-left debate, although Brexit certainly gave parliamentary ‘democracy’ the equivalent of a defibrillator shock.

The main stumbling block to pushing past electoralism though is the fact that there seems to be no other viable alternative or strategy from how we get from where we are now to where we want to go. We can all agree that we want a society free from exploitation and oppression, where we’re not killing the planet, where emancipation means real freedom, not just the freedom to vote for someone every four years. But when we watch the news and look around us, we seem to be getting further rather than nearer to this goal. The news is full of BoJo’s drivel and Labour’s infights, but they tell us little about the massive uprisings in Chile, Sudan, Iraq or even the strikes in France. The UK left is firmly focused on internal politics, and even that is often detached from working class realities. We tried to keep the focus on the advanced movements of our class across the globe, while planting our feet into the local working class conditions at the same time. This book deals with the field of tension inbetween.

We are only a small group. For those who like to categorise, we put ourselves on the communist left. That might not mean much to many, and it isn’t really important, other than to say that our approach to revolutionary politics lies firmly in workers’ self-organisation. Everything we do centres around this perspective: that in order to really change society, working class people have to take matters into their own hands. We don’t think the state is a neutral force that we can bend to our will by just getting the right political party elected. States always have been, and always will be, the main arbiters in maintaining class relations (for more on this see chapter 12). History has shown us that all governments are self-interested, even if they think they’ll be different. From Syriza in Greece to Podemos in Spain to Chavez in Venezuela to Allende in Chile – global capitalism is no match for perhaps well-meaning, but nonetheless nationalist socialist policies.

We suggest a different kind of class politics, one that is embedded in the daily lives of working class people. It may sound simple, but the fact that many on the left have no concrete relationship to working class areas or working class people is a big problem. You end up either lamenting their status as victims of capitalism’s deindustrialised past (as much of the Brexit voters are); as robots (as Amazon’s tech-savvy warehouse workers are); slaves (as many low-waged workers in modern workplaces are); or destitute (as the rising numbers of homeless and those affected by benefit cuts are). How are robots, slaves, the destitute and victims supposed to be a force worth reckoning with? This totally disenfranchised notion of the working class will not allow us to unearth its revolutionary potential. This is exactly what the ruling class wants.

We’re not denying that things have gotten relatively worse for a lot of people. But what these victim narratives perpetuate is a surface level analysis. In order to scratch the surface we have to get back to basics and engage in a process of discovery, together with our co-workers, in order to see where our power versus the bosses actually lies. The first step to take with our fellow workers in an inquiry to understand the objective conditions: how is production and our co-operation organised? Is it done by management alone or does it rely on us? Is our co-operation limited to the four walls of our workplace or does it reach beyond borders? Does IT technology reduce workers to mere puppets of the central control room? Within the framework of these objective conditions, we then need to analyse the subjective ones: what kind of ways workers have already found to resist.

This ‘workers’ inquiry’ takes its starting point from the immediate workplace, but cannot be limited to it. We have to understand the wider global changes of the working class. There is no static or homogenous ‘working class’. It isn’t an identity, like the white miner in a flat cap. Rather, as capitalist social production changes, the regional centres and dominating industrial sectors are also transformed. We can see this in west London, where the workers used to be ex-miners from Wales working in the construction industries, and how this changed to light industry and factories with a majority of workers from the Indian subcontinent. Within this process of changing industries, ‘the working class’ changes too, so we have to talk about specific ‘class compositions’ during specific cycles of history or stages of capitalist development.

These changes in the production process transform the way workers struggle and to what ends. For example, whereas the tendency since the 80s has been to break up units of production into smaller units, as well as relocate production overseas or across wider geographical areas, newer tendencies in how production is organised are bringing larger numbers of workers back together again.

The dispersal of production from the 80s onwards was a political response to workers’ power in the 60s and 70s. It is dangerous when you get high numbers of workers working together under one roof or in close proximity to each other. They tend to start talking to each other, comparing their situations, making common demands, and questioning why we even need bosses. This was why these strongholds had to be broken up, even if this made the production process more complicated. That complication requires a growth in logistics to plan supply-chains. In turn, this has led to a reformation of bigger logistics hubs and warehouse complexes, bringing larger groups of workers together. This makes it easier to harness a potential collective power. In the last few years, we have seen this lead to strikes and actions in many warehouses across Europe.

Capital, however, finds new ways of managing the fact that you have workers coming together in bigger numbers by developing techniques that divide us and keep us isolated from each other. We have to know what those are, and think creatively about how to overcome them. This is part of the workers’ inquiry too, which is why we dedicate some pages in each of our workplace reports to this wider look at the food industry and the production process – from global supply-chains all the way down to the shop floor and relationships amongst the workforce.

These two things – more workers coming together, what we call a ‘concentration process’, and daily co-operation between workers – are the actual bases for the revolutionary potential of the working class. At work, we are in the position to discover that we ourselves produce this world, and that connecting our struggles beyond our individual workplace can give us the political and economic clout to seize power. The fundamental question is: how do we turn this ‘working together’ and co-operation into a weapon against the system? How can we use this knowledge as the starting point for organising ourselves for our own goals, rather than the goals of capitalism?

Our organisational proposals have to refer to these actual conditions, rather than some airy-fairy notions of the ‘precariat’ or ‘the multitude’ and their assumed needs. It’s all very well to sketch out a vision of what we want the classless utopia to look like, but if we can’t even decide when we go to the toilet, or how we manage our own work, this will continue to be an unrealistic pipe dream, totally detached from our daily lives. Together with our fellow workers we have to create a culture of collective analysis: depending on our own capacity, what kind of steps can we take to put pressure on the bosses, and how can we increase our numbers and strength?

Our workplace reports are an attempt to answer these kinds of questions. They also deal with our experiences within the trade unions – as members, and also as shop stewards with GMB and USDAW. Although we knew about the limitations of trade unions as institutions, but hoped to be able to create some space for workers’ self-organisation within the company union structure. We produced union newsletters, organised workers’ meetings, pushed for strike and work to rule. Unsurprisingly we found that the modern union framework is built to stifle initiatives on a rank and file level. Even when small windows of opportunity arose, for example with a more militant union official, it became clear that the larger union apparatus would not support this for long.

Levels of organisation

Let’s be more specific about our thoughts on what an organisation should be doing. Our idea for a local organisation works on four levels. We’ve already mentioned workplaces and why we think our ability as producers is crucial in our aim to create another society.

At the same time, people are obviously struggling outside of work: with shoddy landlords, visa agents, the job centre and welfare regime. So we set up a solidarity network, which supported dozens of local working class people. The solidarity network addresses the fact that the current system individualises us and, at the same time, creates a dog-eat-dog atmosphere. To say out loud that we are here to support each other as workers, not as experts, is itself a political act. It is an ear to the ground of the class, we can hear and learn about its’ conditions, and make friends.

The solidarity network acknowledges a historic fact: middle class leaders, be they religious or political, were able to mobilise the more isolated and impoverished parts of the class against the organised sections of the class. They do this by offering a material and ideological community to people who feel like outcasts. This is what the fascists did, and this is what the Muslim Brotherhood and mafia gangs do. We have to drive a wedge between the middle class and the lower ranks of the working class, through direct mutual aid, action and solidarity. It had another potential function: to provide a local mob that could support workers’ minoritarian actions from inside the bigger workplaces.

The third level is our newspaper, WorkersWildWest. We distributed 2,000 copies of each issue in front of two dozen factories, warehouses, as well as Heathrow airport, job centres and industrial areas. A workers’ publication is necessary to be able to share experiences from the solidarity network and from workplaces and to reflect upon them. The distribution of the newspaper gets us in physical contact with other workers. It can create new bonds, which is more than an anonymously written blog-piece can do. We can use the newspaper to spread information about relevant struggles around the globe. But the newspaper is more just than a mirror of the class. It is a medium to discuss our positions on the wider social situation, for example why nationalism does not offer the working class a route to emancipation. We can look into the history of our class and put forward ideas about a future social transformation. In the longer run, newspapers and other forms of self-education will be an additional tool to undermine the separation of manual and ‘intellectual’ workers. Finally, the newspaper is a focus for ourselves, as it forces us to be organised in practice and precise in our thoughts and language.

All this needs organisation. Organisation is not a label, a party name, a holy grail. ‘Organisation’ is us thinking and acting together and reaching out to others. It is a process of learning together independently and to undermine individual careerism. We need organisation to hold together the solidarity network, the activities in workplaces and the newspaper, and to give it all a direction. We need organisation to reflect on our activities and to present them to comrades in other regions. As an organisation we take on a responsibility. The responsibility to help turn the global co-operation of workers, which is mediated through corporations and markets, into their own tool of international struggle. Our organisation has to be of practical use for the class and at the same time provide a compass: these are the conditions for our class to act independently from the parliamentary and state system, and these are steps the movement can take to capture and defend the means of production.

In our neck of the woods, we tried to create a tiny example of such an organisation. We wanted to take on a territorial responsibility for that small part of the world. This meant, for example, visiting the local Amazon warehouses and telling workers there about the struggles of our sisters and brothers at Amazon in Poland. It meant organising film nights about warehouse workers in Italy in local community centres for workers here. It meant passing on French comrades’ reflections on the Yellow Vest protests to local workers through WorkersWildWest. It meant picketing a restaurant during the Deliveroo strike to spread the actions from central London.

We hoped to be able to create a fruitful dynamic between the different levels of class organisation, which would allow for a qualitative leap. For example, we met some truck drivers from Punjab through the solidarity network. They were employed in a small tin-pot company, being ripped off by a boss of ‘their community’. We helped them and, in return, they supported us in our organising drive with the rank and file union, IWW, at a local sandwich factory where there were many Punjabi workers. They could talk to workers in Punjabi and increased the level of trust between us and workers there.

Later, they got us in touch with another truck driver at Alpha LSG, one of the world’s largest airline caterers where we had been distributing the newspaper for some time and workers knew us but hadn’t contacted us independently. The solidarity network and the close personal links within the local class had helped us to advance from a contact in a minor enterprise to a contact with a group of workers at a multinational corporation and their concrete grievances. At this stage, when we told them there would be no easy legal fix, they decided to not go further.

But what if they had? With the support of a class union, we could have embarked on a dispute. Alpha LSG is a crucial workplace in this area: not only do hundreds of local people work there, they also have links to many thousands more in other local workplaces, many contending with deteriorating conditions in outsourced companies. Alpha LSG workers keep the operation at Heathrow airport going – and they can therefore disrupt it. The fact that a local dispute could kick off under conditions many low-paid workers in this area could relate to would have a ripple effect amongst the entire local labour force. The newspaper could spread the news of the strike from the point of view of the workers themselves to other local workplaces, forging new links and offering practical solidarity.

This doesn’t sound too far-fetched. While we didn’t manage to get that far this time, who knows what could happen in similar situations, especially if you had more comrades on the ground? We maintain the organisational framework is a good one. It certainly beats going to the usual lefty meetings where you’ve got five old men and a dog talking about Durruti. Or going on a demonstration, waving placards from an SWP front organisation and being roundly ignored by those who make the decisions. The main problem is that these four levels (workplaces, solidarity network, newspaper and organisation) have to all be done at the same time in order to create something bigger than the sum of their parts. The solidarity network can help people take initiatives at work; struggles at work in turn can give local campaigns more power versus the local authorities. These practical experiences give people more impetus to discuss the bigger picture and to get organised politically.

To create a dynamic between these levels is not easy. Comrades might manage to get a good local solidarity initiative or a workplace group in gear, but they remain isolated experiences. Other comrades produce beautiful analyses and programmatic declarations, but drift in space without roots. Their thoughts are not tested by the class. This is why we insist that we have to see the levels as a cohesive, complementary organism that lives and breathes within the class. We see organisations in the revolutionary milieu, in particular amongst our anarcho-syndicalist comrades, who formally address all these levels. The problem is that, more often than not, they substitute their own organisation for the class. While we think that the organisation should act through the class and its ever-changing movements, they suggest that the class acts through the organisation. These are not dialectical games. These differences have practical consequences, which we will address in the chapter on revolutionary strategy at the end of this book.

Our efforts in west London were not about ‘organising’ as such. Our aim is to build a political organisation of the class. Not just a formal organisation people can say they’re a member of and then sit back and not do anything. We want to build an organisation that consists of many local collectives like ours, that are rooted in working class organising and discussions about fundamental social change. Through the organisation, these local collectives could debate their experiences centrally and contrast them with wider developments of class struggle in order to decide on common practical strategies. We hope the book will inspire small groups of you to make common plans together and perhaps set up similar organisations in your areas. We will talk more about concrete proposals in the last part of this book but for now, we would just say that you don’t need a lot of resources to get going. You don’t need external funding, or fancy publications and logos. You can do a lot more than you think when your ‘political life’ and ‘normal life’ isn’t so divided.

Our reader

This book is for anyone thinking, ‘what next?’ You might be in a big town, or a small town. Chances are, you’re near some larger workplaces of strategic importance. Maybe you don’t even know it, you’ve gone past these areas on the bus and didn’t think much about what was going on there. Why don’t you do a walk-around and find out? If you’re not near anything potentially interesting, why don’t you move somewhere else? You don’t necessarily have to get a shit job. But if you’re doing a shit job anyway, why not start writing a work report about how the work is organised, how the workforce is composed, where the pressure points are and your and your co-workers’ experiences? If there’s a group of you, you can set up a solidarity network and a small publication at the same time. Document your experiences, and get in touch if you want to discuss things through in more detail. We hope this book can inspire you. You can dip in and out of it, depending on your specific interests.

Chapter summary

In the first chapter, we start by taking a closer look at this area of west London, and its recent history in particular. We want you to get a sense of the area we’re in and important struggles that have shaped the class formation here. The following three chapters go into more detail about our experiences: the second chapter talks about our solidarity network and the local campaigns we were involved with. The third chapter is about a workplace action we were involved in at the Waitrose and Sainsbury’s chill warehouses in Greenford. In the fourth chapter, we talk more about the role of our newspaper in our organising efforts, as well as sharing some snapshots from our interactions during the newspaper distributions.

The fifth chapter focuses on working class family life, as well as the stories of women workers we’ve met here over the last few years. The sixth chapter shares our experiences of the organising drive we did with the London branch of the Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW), as well as our general thoughts on the upsurge in syndicalism and syndicalist-style organising.

The next section contains our workers’ inquiries from three local workplaces: Bakkavor (a food processing factory), Tesco (as a delivery driver in a customer fulfilment centre), and a 3D printer/ink cartridge refilling plant. The seventh chapter is an introduction to the food sector in capitalism, looking at ‘Food production from the field to the processing plants’. We recount how class struggle for a better life pushed capital into the Third Agrarian Revolution and the industrialisation of food processing, as well as examining the position of workers in the global food supply-chain. Chapter eight is a detailed account of ‘Working and organising at the Bakkavor ready-meal factory’: it includes an overview of the company so we know who exactly we’re dealing with; a detailed look at the workforce composition; how the production process was organised; the main issues we were facing as workers in a repressive assembly line regime; the barriers to building workers’ power; as well as the workings of the GMB union that had recognition at the factory, particularly during a pay campaign to get £1 more an hour for everyone.

We start the ninth chapter by analysing, ‘Food distribution in capitalism’, in order to provide context for the workplace experience in one of Tesco’s warehouses. In order to understand the background of our organising attempts and how Tesco has managed to restructure the company without major disputes we have to analyse ‘The union and struggles’. The three years of employment at Tesco were confined to a specific and probably most modern segment of the company, online shopping and ‘Grocery home deliveries’. We check out if this form of work is just a modern and temporary fashion or whether it’s part of a deeper and long-lasting transformation of how food will be distributed in the future. In order to get to grips with this we give more attention to ‘Ocado – the highest point of development’. This is also important to get a better understanding of the automation hype and new forms of capitalist enterprises. Ocado defies the leftist presumption that companies which rely a lot on their share market value tend to shy away from long-term investments. Things then become more subjective and immediate, as we talk about ‘Work and organising experience at Tesco’ in chapter ten. You’ll get to know the workmates, the daily grind and management’s nightmares. We look at informal resistance and the contradictions of being a union rep. There will be many union delegate tears flowing, and even Jeremy Corbyn will make a guest appearance.

Chapter eleven is a work report from our time working in the 3D printer assembly department of a local enterprise that also refilled printer ink cartridges. The company fits much of the Labour left’s criteria when they speak about alliances with the entrepreneurial sector against finance capital: it is a start-up company, it has an ecological ethos, it produces products for the dreamworld of ‘luxury communism’. If you want a sobering account of the automation hype, this is essential reading.

We end the book, between chapters twelve and fifteen, on AngryWorkers’ thoughts on revolutionary strategy. We look at the division within current protest movements between square occupations and street protests on one side and strikes on the other. We raise the question of how a takeover of the means of production can be imagined once these means are scattered around the globe. We try to talk about the process of revolution as a process of basic tasks for the working class, rather than a mystical moment. We end this section with our organisational proposals to you!

We conclude with some personal remarks and critical self-reflection about our six years in the western badlands.

We wrote this book in six months while working manual, low paid jobs and while continuing our work around the solidarity network and workers’ newspaper. We don’t want a medal for it, but it’s relevant in two regards: we use it as an excuse for the fact that the book is rough and raw; but we also want to make the point that writing something relatively substantial doesn’t mean you have to become an academic or journalist or take on any another form of intellectual profession. The more we can write for the collective and international debate, as workers in struggle, the better. We look forward to hearing from you!

In solidarity,
Some (still) AngryWorkers

Posted By

AngryWorkersWorld
Mar 17 2020 12:00

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  • Our efforts in west London were not about ‘organising’ as such. Our aim is to build a political organisation of the class.

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AngryWorkersWorld
Mar 17 2020 12:01

A French translation of the text above can be found here:
http://mondialisme.org/spip.php?article2859

AngryWorkersWorld
Mar 20 2020 12:20

Please spread the word:

We will have a Facebook live event on Friday, 27th of March at 7pm.
https://www.facebook.com/events/609764616267742/

We will also have a Zoom online meeting on Tuesday, 31st of March at 7pm.

We will present the book, answer questions and discuss together. If you want to take part in the Zoom meeting please email us at angryworkersworld@gmail.com and we will send you a link to join the meeting.

https://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/class-power-book-disc...

R Totale
Mar 21 2020 10:15

Do you think the book will still be produced as a physical object any time soon, or will that have to wait for "the return to normality"? Also, I've not actually used Zoom before, could you explain a little bit about how it works, how anonymous it is etc? Is it just a voice thing or what?

jura
Mar 21 2020 14:51

I’ve just received an email from PM Press that printed copies are on the way and existing orders will be processed next week. Looking forward to it.

AngryWorkersWorld
Mar 22 2020 07:00

Ciao amici,

yip, we drove the print copy through central London traffic three days ago, everyone avoiding public transport meant it took nearly two and a half hours from Hackney to Greenford:

https://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/2020/03/22/class-power-printed/

we only done Zoom twice, you have to download program, goes quick, then you get sent an invitation from the host (us) and there you go. i guess as anonymous (or not!) as any of the social media things. if people want to join in, drop us an email: angryworkersworld@gmail.com

We will have a Facebook live event on Friday, 27th of March at 7pm.
https://www.facebook.com/events/609764616267742/

We will also have a Zoom online meeting on Tuesday, 31st of March at 7pm.

AngryWorkersWorld
May 13 2020 11:55

The book can now be ordered at low postage costs in the USA and Europe (for relatively remote places Australia we still look at 7,89 Euro postage for a 10 Euro book)...

https://classpower.net/order/