UK trade unions

International Women's Day strike

Published on: Wed, 14/03/2018 - 13:35

Gemma Short

Workers at four Picturehouse cinemas in London struck on International Women′s Day, Thursday 8 March.

Workers and supporters picketed Picturehouse Central in Soho, and the picket line was addressed by TUC General Secretary Frances O′Grady. The picket line was later joined by about 500 people from the Women′s March event, which for a period of time created such an effective picket line that no customers were able to get through the crowd to go into the cinema.

Writing for The Clarion magazine in advance of the strike, sacked Ritzy Cinema rep Kelly Rogers said:

″In the context of the abusive

Open up the Labour General Secretary contest

Published on: Fri, 09/03/2018 - 18:03

Simon Nelson

The contest which has opened up over who will replace Iain McNicol as General Secretary of the Labour Party should be an opportunity to talk about what a left-led Labour Party should be like in its culture and structures. Whether it can be anything other than an acrimonious factional battle, and one that is impossible for ordinary Labour members to decode, remains to be seen.

First of all it should be an open contest. That was Momentum Chair Jon Lansman's stated reason for standing, and he is right against the leadership of the Labour Party who want Unite official Jennie Formby to get the job

Emile Zola, Socialism and Anti-Semitism

Published on: Wed, 03/09/2014 - 14:08

Émile Zola was one of the foremost novelists of late 19th century France. He was also sympathetic to socialism and a hero in the “Dreyfus Affair” of the 1890s. This interview with him by Max Beer appeared in the Social Democrat (magazine of the Social Democratic Federation, then the main Marxist group in Britain) of October 1902. Beer was the British correspondent of the German socialist paper Vorwärts and author of a History of British Socialism. Jean Jaurès and Jules Guesde, referred to by Zola, led two factions in the French socialist movement; the “Guesdists”, though generally more

Class War in Britain's Ports (1967)

Published on: Fri, 20/06/2014 - 21:40

The Devlin plan and the docker (1967)

This July 1967 pamphlet was the first piece of public literature put out by the Workers' Fight group, forerunner of AWL.

The "Devlin plan" was the government's plan of the time to "rationalise" the ports and push through "containerisation", a root and branch technical revolution in the workplace.


The employers have called September 15th D Day - and most dockers take this war-
time language as proof that what the employers really want is not D Day but V Day:
the day of their victory over the docker

Unions and smartphones

Published on: Wed, 23/04/2014 - 11:11

In recent weeks, I've gotten a few requests for information about a survey LabourStart did a couple of years ago.  It's odd because we've not done anything to publicize this.  So I asked one of those who wrote to me where they'd heard about it.  

It turned out it was on a website for business people, in an article about how advanced unions were in their use of the net.  Author Jessica Miller-Merrell warned companies that "While HR is slow to adopt and understand social media, unions on the other hand are very open to using this online technology." 

I think anyone who has spent time working

How workers' action freed the Pentonville Five

Published on: Fri, 11/01/2013 - 12:13

It is July 1972. With the union leaders safely in talks with [Tory Prime Minister] Heath and knuckling under to his Industrial Relations Act (IRA), the Tories now went for the real union power on the docks: the rank and file.

They were going to make an example of five dockers from east London to cauterise resistance to the long-term running down of the docks, to stop the unofficial blacking [refusal to unload] of lorries and picketing at the container depots that were taking the dockers' work, and, most importantly, to complete the enforcement of the IRA and finally succeed in beating down the

Tower Hamlets College: Still solid in week 5

Published on: Thu, 24/09/2009 - 20:21

By Stuart Jordan

As teachers at Tower Hamlets College enter their fifth week of indefinite strike against cuts, their action remains strong.

A mass meeting on Wednesday 16 September (day 16) saw the biggest turnout of the dispute: 166 members vote to continue the strike action, with 14 abstentions and no members voting against.

Management have been forced to concede some key concessions, but the offer was flatly rejected. Negotiations with the principal continue and ACAS are getting involved.

A fighting spirit remains amongst those on strike, with picket lines lively and well-attended and a whole host of

The unions must channel the anger

Published on: Sun, 23/11/2008 - 10:05

Joe Marino

It is very clear that the political consensus put forward by the major parties over the last 20 years has been blown out of the water and has been shown to be a sham. And I think that will be seen to be the case far and wide. People know if they can find the money for the banks they can find it for pensioners and other social concerns. People will have questions.

It is the role of the trade unions to channel the anger, and we now have a great opportunity to do that.

We need to campaign on several areas. We will see the return of wage militancy, we’ve seen that from our members recently. We

Union news in Brief

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:22

• Unison Conference: Good news, the left at Unison conference mangaged to beat the leadership in vote after vote. But there were not many big debates as Standing Orders had ruled anything controversial (and 47% of motions) out of order. However we won a lot of symbolic victories.

Perhaps the most significant victory on conference floor was at the Local Government Service Group Conference with resolution to open up pay consultation in the autumn, submit a pay claim by January and, if unsuccessful, ballot for strike action in April 2009. This is a massive improvement on dithering in previous

The 1984-5 Miners' Strike, the Miners Who Scabbed, and the Fate of the Pet Pig

Published on: Mon, 09/04/2007 - 19:17

Sean Matgamna

In Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure, there is a strange, affecting scene, in which the butchering of a hand-raised pig is described. It is told with great sympathy and empathy from the pig’s point of view.
(Parables for Socialists-5)

Reared close to the family, as was common in nineteen century England, the pig is well-treated, mothered like a pet and fed on tit-bits — all the better to fatten it up so that it could at the right moment be turned into as much pork and bacon as possible. The pig is happy and contented, not knowing his place in the human scheme of things.

Then one day the

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