'A Broad Strike Movement' - Len McCluskey in the Guardian

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Dec 19 2010 22:41
'A Broad Strike Movement' - Len McCluskey in the Guardian

An Article by Len McCluskey has appeared in the Guardian, calling for a 'broad strike movement'.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/19/unions-students-strike-fight-cuts

Obviously there's some of the usual Labour-supporting stuff in there (support for Ed Milliband in particular)... but it does make a point of saying that Labour Councils shouldn't be let off the hook and puts down a few fighting words - making explicit reference to the 'magnificent' student movement. Get ready for the 'Red Len' headlines to be appearing soon enough...

Let's just hope it's not all talk.

Mike Harman
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Dec 20 2010 02:07

The Guardian ran an editorial which was more or less "Red Len" the same day - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/20/trade-unions-leading-nowhere

I'm sure Tony Woodley or similar was calling for co-ordinated strike action 2-3 years back, and absolutely nothing came of it, it really does feel like all talk at the moment.

edit Although once again that editorial has provoked a backlash of angry comments defending strike action etc. which is somewhat encouraging.

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cantdocartwheels
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Dec 20 2010 07:14

faux militant rhetoric- check
lefty cliches- check
mentions the 70's- check
labour party loyalism- check

the only amusing thing in the article was this little bit of doublespeak
''These are Con-Dem cuts, and this is a capitalist crisis. An attempt to blame Labour local authorities for the problem is a shortcut to splitting our movement and letting the government off the hook.''

heaven forbid the students try to storm town halls where theres a labour council sitting, obviously people who do that are just awful ultra-leftist splitters and not like the rest of the heroic students movement at all

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Dec 21 2010 00:40

In another report from the Guardian, Unite and the GMB have pledged to support the next student mobilisation called by the National Campaign against Cuts and Fees and the Education Activists Network, on 29 January

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/20/students-trade-union-support-protest?INTCMP=SRCH

This could be a real opportunity for students and workers to link up; at the same time, for the unions, it could be an opportunity to take control of what has to some extent been a'leaderless movement' (as one Police spokesman put it, asking for the proper leaders to come forward)

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Dec 24 2010 13:29

Where are the teachers unions? I haven't heard anything from them.

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Dec 24 2010 13:57

I went my local anti-cuts meeting last week, and found to my horror that it was stacked with Labour Party hacks and Trades Unionists. The clique around the chair shotdown objections to holding a local march on the 29th-saying the central london demo was a 'rumour' and that 'we must have unity'-The deputy head of the Labour council was there to listen and repsond to a string of statements from members, and then to give his response-Lots of honeyed words dripped from his mouth, and he didn't leave once he had said his piece, so that the group could debate his response...In fact there was no debate about anything- a few SWP spouted rhetoric, but the disbelief of myself and others over the march was squashed...It was about the most undemocratic, 'democratic' meeting I've ever been to...The high point was a GMB man saying that in his 25yrs representing his members he'd only called them out on strike twice...he also said there was 'no mood' for strikes now(!) and that by next year people will be too fearful of losing their jobs if they did strike. I walked out. Fucking scum, the lot of them.

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Dec 24 2010 17:58
Quote:
The high point was a GMB man saying that in his 25yrs representing his members he'd only called them out on strike twice...he also said there was 'no mood' for strikes now(!) and that by next year people will be too fearful of losing their jobs if they did strike. I walked out. Fucking scum, the lot of them.
.

That's a bit ridiculously over the top.

Unfortunately, it is correct that a lot of people are fearful for their jobs, and not wanting to take strike action.

One of the best organised (80% density), most militant Unison branches in Kirklees just voted yes to 5 days of strike action in the New Year, but the vote was only 53% yes to 47% no.

My branch should be balloting for strike action shortly, but we only have 50% density, and I'm not sure if we would win a yes vote. Saying that does not make me "scum".

To give us more background, whereabouts do you live and work?

That said, in local government the GMB pretty much acts as a scab union (with a couple of exceptions in some areas in refuse collection etc).

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Dec 25 2010 07:05

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/24/student-protests-young-politics-voices

anyone seen this? what do you think?

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 25 2010 11:50

Tommy Ascaso thinks it's the best article ever written by anyone. Ever.

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bulmer
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Dec 25 2010 13:19
Steven. wrote:
One of the best organised (80% density), most militant Unison branches in Kirklees just voted yes to 5 days of strike action in the New Year, but the vote was only 53% yes to 47% no.

That was only on something like a 36% turn out too...

John1
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Dec 25 2010 13:31

BOURGEOIS PRESS

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Dec 26 2010 08:08

If a union really was an organization belonging to the rank and file workers within it, it wouldn't get just 36% turn out on an important vote. That's even less turn out than an average national election these days. Most workers in most unions know they don't belong to them, they aren't under their control, so they don't participate in their sham processes. Except for actually striking. True, there are those against both unions and striking, but there is a significant proportion which is both for striking and against the unions' sham processes and slavish following of state authority.

McCluskey and co. are on the other side of the class divide. Let's see how they try to manage this potentially troublesome coming period, when more and more workers, probably starting with younger workers, will want to join in the struggle that the students have initiated, inspired and angry as many of them must be becoming. And yeah, as Stranger ... said, what are the teachers' unions doing during all of this? Probably trying to sit on their own fence, teachers on one side, state on the other.

mons
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Dec 26 2010 12:27

I have heard the NUT are mooting a strike for Spring, heard that indirectly from a NUT rep and a TUC official.

Not bad to be honest. Substantially better then the mutualist anarchist piece published in the guardian to be honest.

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Dec 26 2010 14:06
waslax wrote:
If a union really was an organization belonging to the rank and file workers within it, it wouldn't get just 36% turn out on an important vote. That's even less turn out than an average national election these days. Most workers in most unions know they don't belong to them, they aren't under their control, so they don't participate in their sham processes. Except for actually striking. True, there are those against both unions and striking, but there is a significant proportion which is both for striking and against the unions' sham processes and slavish following of state authority.

waslax, I'm afraid I think you are confusing your desires with reality here.

Unfortunately, I do not think there is any sizeable proportion of the workforce which wants to take strike action but refuses to participate in the "sham" union procedures like strike votes.

In councils, like that vote mentioned above, industrial action ballots usually get turnouts around 30% in unison. Nationwide, probably about 40% of council workers are in unison. Almost all non-members scab when we strike, as do most members of the other small unions, GMB and Unite, and a sizeable proportion of unison members scab as well.

Our last nationwide strike over pay in 2008 was not very well observed, although severe disruption was caused in some well-organised areas, such as transport, refuse collection and schools being closed.

That said, quite a few colleagues have asked me why don't we just have a general strike across the public sector against these cuts. I think if this was an option then quite a lot of people would go for it, as a lot of people (rightly) think we can only win if we were all together. But unfortunately us being split up between different unions who are keeping this all separate mean that this is not an option.

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Dec 26 2010 16:32
waslax wrote:
If a union really was an organization belonging to the rank and file workers within it, it wouldn't get just 36% turn out on an important vote. That's even less turn out than an average national election these days. Most workers in most unions know they don't belong to them, they aren't under their control, so they don't participate in their sham processes. Except for actually striking. True, there are those against both unions and striking, but there is a significant proportion which is both for striking and against the unions' sham processes and slavish following of state authority.

I think you've come to the wrong conclusion about why 'most' workers in unions don't participate more. I don't think it's a case of workers knowing they don't control the instrument and therefore not participating in the unions processes. I think it's more the case of them (workers) not thinking it's worthwhile participating in the day to day running of the union and in doing so the union bureaucracy becomes the main day to day organising force (union full-timers and shop stewards with considerable facility time) and by default the political leadership. For me rank and file control is a question of class consciousness, i.e the higher the degree of class consciousness the greater the participation in day to day affairs and ultimately greater rank and file political control; those who do most of the work should have a greater role in how the work is conducted and it's purpose.

There was a lot of activity around cleaners employment rights and pay in London over the past few years. In general, there was a lot of political agitation which raised the expectation and participation of workers in the business unions. In doing so they began to make rank and file demands which nakedly conflicted with the interests of the bureaucracy. This lead to a section of the cleaners (notably the Latin American Workers Association) to decisively break with the political leadership of the main business trade unions and actively pursue a rank and fliest approach in the Industrial Workers of the World twined with a duel card strategy in the work place.

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Dec 27 2010 08:26

Thanks for the info Steven and blackrainbow. It definitely helps to clarify things for me, and probably some others too. Of course, I was over-generalizing, and being a bit too provocative. I appreciate the lack of rancor in your responses, and have no desire to derail this thread.

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Dec 27 2010 11:58
waslax wrote:
Thanks for the info Steven and blackrainbow. It definitely helps to clarify things for me, and probably some others too. Of course, I was over-generalizing, and being a bit too provocative. I appreciate the lack of rancor in your responses, and have no desire to derail this thread.

no worries, I don't think this is a derail at all. And you won't get any rancour from me!

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 27 2010 12:35

There are a couple of strikes in the rail sector:

Aslef (train drivers' union about whom we hear very little compared with the RMT, what do people know about them?) strike on the Tube yesterday, having beaten an attempted injunction in court: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-12066994

They appear to have updated the BBC article. When I read it last night, the union spokesman made a reference to them not establishing picket lines, which seems strange.

RMT strike at Northern Rail: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12081023

EDIT and another one by the RMT in Wales: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-12082315

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Dec 30 2010 19:31

@steve

Quote:
That's a bit ridiculously over the top.

Is it? Since the social norm of everyday life and work is very far from libertarian, I thought that I could express my feelings openly in a Libertarian discussion...The meeting I attended in North London, (where I work in the public sector), reeked of scabbyness and an arselicking deference towards the Labour Party Fuck (Deputy Leader of the Council) who sat there in his £500 suit and attempted to sooth the ritualised anger of assorted professional rabid trots and eccentric stalinists in the group. What disgusted me more than anything was a failure to grasp the severity of the crisis, and the need for a sense of class unity rather than the petty localism displayed by those who basically controlled the meeting. The way I saw it, was as a classical example of faux-resistance to capital by so-called socialists and trades unionists with their rigid adherence to bureaucratic proceduralism, and the active suppression of dissenting voices (by shouting them down and 'moving on').

The dynamics of this meeting were so structured as to appear democratic, without the inconvenience of actually having to be so...All 'Comrades' and 'Unity' and sod all else...They also decided to route the march through the predominately middle-class part of the borough, thus ignoring the very people the cuts will affect...the working class.

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Jan 1 2011 12:13

Of course this is a strategy of the ruling class, fake radicalism and strong sounding words, the middle-class protests most strongly at this..by way of the ballot box. That's basically what it comes down to, that's the Grauniad's reader base.

And this is completely and utterly against us. The Telegraph and DM are trying to smear and combine the left from the Grauniadites to the genuine left and the G's and some of the so-called 'rev' left are playing along with that. So play along if you want, I don't want to, in fact it would be nice to have some comments on all of these articles thoroughly denouncing everything they stand for, they don't always get round to moderating them all out.

On several DM articles, one of which was against the students and the other attacking the ICC, I noticed the article was actually given a thorough thrashing by a few comments which were actually given thumbs-up. Quite amazing if you think about it, certainly not a bad thing.