In the US, a far right state politician has found himself in a pickle after his attempt to force a bampot anti-union bill through their parliament using their National Guard no less, has backfired. It’s triggered a wave of grassroots militant action and solidarity that has seen the Wisconsin Capitol (that’s their Holyrood I guess) occupied.
This video is firefighters arriving there, complete with bagpipes. This means (class) war, no?
this is an almost exclusively working class event; it is the largest strictly working class action in the United States in decades and it is growing, drawing in new layers of workers with each passing day in what is effectively a strike wave led largely by students and teachers; still, its leadership and its methods are reformist pure and simple, and to this point at least so are its aims…
One popular misconception is that FBU strikers are putting others at risk of death. In fact, pickets I spoke to reaffirmed that they were would instantly respond if life was at risk. “If there’s a fire, we’re going to go and have a look. If it’s a warehouse with no one inside, we’ll let it burn down. If there’s a life at risk, you’d have a job to do to stop everyone here going to sort it out. That’s why we joined.”
This is not merely hypothetical. According to the FBU:
1. In Dagenham, after several calls from a block of flats, the private contractors turned up, but did not know how to connect the hose to the fire engine, or where the water hydrants were. Local firefighters saw their problem, and despite being on strike, showed the contractors how to use the equipment. They then entered the building to ensure that no lives were at risk, before leaving the private contractors to cope with any damage to property.
A 2nd day of general strike in Greece, a meeting of the European Central Bank and the prospect of bond markets opening overnight to allow betting during the vote count. As well as this, British Airways continues its vendetta against its workers.
The rail union the RMT were supposed to be striking around now but have halted their action after a court ruled it unlawful. This decision used the same logic as the British Airways cabin crew one over Xmas.
The injunction is on the basis that a ballot must cover 100% of the effected workforce, and only 100% of that group. Otherwise it’s not a legitimate ballot. This is obviously a pretty harsh restriction to work around, since no decent-sized group is going to have a membership list that’s completely mistake-free at all points in time.
But if this is the standard for a union ballot, then why don’t we apply the same standard to the upcoming General Election? The results of that ballot effect everybody living in this country, but not everybody here gets a say – prisoners can’t vote, the mentally ill can’t vote, folk with the wrong coloured passport can’t vote.
Anybody got a spare £10,000 and fancy trying to take out an injunction against the General Election?
Post workers in the UK are taking 2 days of strike action next week. It’s apparent that, with less than a year left in government, the Labour Party is determined to make this its last mark. A document setting out the hardline stance to be taken by Royal Mail bosses refers to having the full “buy-in” of “the shareholder”, i.e. the government. Now we learn that part of this strategy is the hiring of 30,000 scabs.
Privatisation of the RM has been a goal for the 12 years of New Labour government, only prevented by the long-standing militancy of the post workers. Nevermind that no-one wants the post privatised except those set to profit from it. They can’t privatise the post until they break the workers’ organisation. They refuse to make good the pension deficit until they do so. In that time we’ve seen:
the workers’ pension fund deliberately run down
operating surpluses (i.e. profits) creamed off by the Treasury instead of reinvested
the easy, profitable parts of the work (e.g. City of London) opened up to private companies (not “competition”, as they have no Universal Service Obligation)
multiple provocations responded to by wildcat strikes
an increase in parcel volumes through internet shopping, also hived off to private companies
At risk of being lost in the G20 meltdown London protest flood comes the news that workers in Enfield and Northern Ireland have decided to occupy their factories in response to getting fucked over by Ford.
Yesterday workers at the 3 factories owned by Ford Cars subsidiary Visteon in Basildon, Enfield and Belfast were called into the offices by management at 2pm and laid-off with immediate effect. They were not even given time to collect their belongings or provided with any redundancy pay (other than an initial week’s wages that had been held back from them in the first place.
Visteon is a tax dodge that was set up by Ford in 2000. It has been variously used as a way by Ford for not providing normal legal provisions for workers. Recently, it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after shares dropped from 7c to 2c.
the workers demands are:
Full back pay
Full legal notice in compliance with UK law
The same conditions of redundancy that Ford workers receive
…that’s a headline you’ll see a lot in the next year. I don’t have any particular insight into the struggle, but I did come across this fantastic set of 4 Xmas Cards produced by a miners’ support group in South Wales. I have scanned them at the highest resolution I could and have uploaded the full set to the site (direct download link, ZIP, 2Mb).
As well as the haunting monochrome images, the cards have poems inside, written by striking miners and their families. If you find it hard to imagine just how strongly felt this dispute was, just read “Ode to a Scab”, or “Kids’ Questions”. Ever think that Margaret Thatcher deserves a bit of sympathy in her later years? Feel the despair caused by her deliberate policy to destroy the labour movement and this particular part of it.
And never forget that it wasn’t just her. She couldn’t've done it without MI5′s “counter subversion”, without the Metropolitan Police beating pickets for overtime, and without the willing lies of the media, including the saintly “impartial” BBC. (Was it them or ITN that re-edited their Orgreave footage to make it look like the miners charged first? Doesn’t matter I guess.)