Trade union issues

"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...

Review: The Truth About Modern Slavery

Interview with Emily Kenway here. When I set out to research modern slavery for my master’s thesis in 2019, academic research which sought to understand modern slavery as a part of capitalism was few and far between, and information in the public sphere challenging the mainstream understanding of modern slavery was non-existent. Emily Kenway’s The Truth About Modern Slavery is an incredibly valuable text for that exact reason. It breaks down the way that the narrative of modern slavery is used by politicians in order to further reactionary political goals, for example tightening border...

Discrimination on the Tube

An excerpt from an interview with Becky Crocker, Workers' Liberty and RMT activist When Ada, my daughter, was nearly two, I had a miscarriage. On the day I got back to work, they presented me with a case conference notification letter. The case conference process is designed for people with long-term health conditions that mean they are unable to do their job. Working in many of the jobs on London Underground requires doing certain things. You’re supposed to evacuate a station in an emergency; to be able to go down the track. So there’s a very small number of people who, for whatever reason...

Diary of a Tube worker: First day of shops reopened

“So I have to pay now? Since when? How long for?” The first day of the 60+ Oyster Card being excluded from morning peak time travel, is not going well, at least for these passengers. “Beep beep... beep beep...” I look at the gate and “57” flashes up. The code for a ticket or pass not being valid where it is being used. “Is it a 60+ Oyster or Older Persons Freedom Pass”? It is almost all our conversations for the first hours of the day. We all clock-watch till 9am when they become valid again and the questions will stop. “Where are all these people travelling at 5am who are over 60 going to...

Safe and Equal: three fronts

The Safe and Equal campaign safeandequal.org is pressing on three fronts. Firstly: we want to popularise the idea, adopted as Labour Party policy in conference 2019, and recently re-raised by Nadia Whittome MP, that the care sector must be re-organised as a well-funded public service, rather than as the patchwork of small privately-run companies that currently makes it up. Instead of a jigsaw puzzle of frequently inefficient, abusive and despotic private fiefdoms, we want instead to see a democratically-run service offering the same high standards of care and workers’ rights to all users and...

Five tests (John Moloney's column)

PCS has communicated our “Five Tests” to the Civil Service. These are: No wider return until communities are safe; workplaces must only be for essential work; workplaces must be safe places; staff must be individually assessed; and outbreaks must be controlled. We need to make these demands, and the details beneath the headlines, known and understood amongst the membership — and, crucially, discuss throughout the union how we respond if the employer fails to meet these tests. A national ballot for industrial action is not a practical proposition in the here and now; it would simply take too...

Migrant labour, racism and class struggle in Singapore

With migrant workers making up the vast majority of recent Covid-19 cases in Singapore, there are renewed calls for the government to reduce Singapore's dependence on migrant labour. On the surface, this appears to be a progressive proposal, given that it is being made in response to the cramped and unsanitary nature of the migrant worker dormitories. In reality, however, these are xenophobic demands to reduce the number of foreigners and these demands have nothing to do with improving conditions in migrant worker dormitories. Many have compared migrant labour to a drug to which Singapore is...

Tim Roache and the cabal system

On Tuesday 28 April, Tim Roache, general secretary of the big GMB union, which organises in many different sectors, stepped down, just months after his re-election. He cited ill-health. On Wednesday, following the circulation of an anonymous letter to press outlets, GMB issued a statement: “GMB received an anonymous letter, last Wednesday, in which a number of allegations have been made about Tim’s conduct whilst he held the office of general secretary.” The news of the allegations against Roach has reignited discussion of conduct in the labour movement, echoing previous incidents including...

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