Unions & politics

Labour conference deadlines on 11 June

Peter Mandelson has effectively called on Keir Starmer (Financial Times, 8 May) to overrule or neutralise Labour Party conference, and to break or neutralise the union say in the Labour Party. After conference 2020 was replaced by a no-debate online event on grounds of the pandemic, Labour Party conference 2021 (25 to 29 September in Brighton) is an important point for the left of the labour movement to regroup and halt the retreat. Socialists are putting themselves forward to be conference delegates (the deadline for constituency delegates to be chosen is 11 June). The Momentum...

"Workers have never been gifted anything. We've protested and won"

This is a speech given by Fire Brigades Union National Officer and Free Our Unions activist Riccardo la Torre (pictured above, centre) at the 2021 May Day protest in Southend in Essex. Republished from the Free Our Unions website; you can watch the speech as a video on their site here. I’m Riccardo la Torre from the Fire Brigades Union, bringing May Day solidarity to all of you. It’s fantastic, and encouraging, to see that we’re all out here today demonstrating, protesting, which is our right and our freedom. We’re doing it in the face of a Bill that threatens that very right and those very...

Anti-Protest Law is Bad News for Rail Workers

The Conservative Government is pushing through a new law, 'The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill', that will restrict our right to protest effectively. It will empower the police to stop 'disruptive' protests, ie. ones that have an impact and get attention. The government is thinking of...

6 May: Vote Labour, push for a fighting policy

The English and Welsh local elections on 6 May have featured a lack of discussion about policies and politics. The virtual destruction of local government is continuing at speed; but there is little mention of it in the election campaign, let alone real debate. The vote is mainly being treated as a national referendum on the parties’ popularity, but with little discussion of their national policies on local government or anything else. At a national level, the Labour leadership has offered no theme other than a limp appeal to present 6 May as a chance to “send a message” to the Tories on NHS...

"We need to develop workers' capacities"

Henry Chango Lopez (pictured above, centre, before the pandemic) is the new General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke to Sacha Ismail. In recent years the IWGB has had a high profile in part because it’s grown quite a lot when trade unions in general have stagnated. Why is that? It’s really just about the situation of workers at the moment, the way the economy is, outsourcing, precarious employment – these are problems that many unions have not tackled. Unions do not effectively organise workers in these situations. The problem is so wide...

What's "left" in the NEU?

The NEU [National Education Union] Left was launched as “a membership organisation” on Saturday 13 March. It was “launched” as a brand over two years ago, at the NEU conference.

Over those two years, it has existed as a nebulous bureaucratic lash up between the Socialist Teachers Alliance (STA)...

Stand with Myanmar's workers

“One cannot overstate the heroism of the Myanmar union movement right now in the fight against the military dictatorship, nor the horror of the military’s ongoing crimes against humanity.” So wrote Andrew Tillett-Saks, a US union organiser working in Myanmar, on 19 March. (See Tillett-Saks' Twitter for regular English-language updates.) There is now a steady flow of killings by the regime. Current estimates in the international media, which Burmese activists say are too low, are around 250. 14 March saw almost a hundred killings, two thirds in the Yangon factory suburb of Hlaing Tharyar. The...

"A union General Secretary shouldn’t be like a corporate CEO"

John Leach, a candidate for general secretary of the rail and transport union RMT, spoke to Solidarity. The ballot is underway and closes on 4 May 2021. Why are you running for General Secretary? I stood in this election for two reasons. One, I knew that the union needed a candidate with the qualities I've got. Might sound egotistical but then I am running in this election to win. You need experience, character, and capacity to get things done. And often candidates say this, but I was also asked to run by reps and activists across the union. The RMT is often billed as a “left wing fighting...

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