Union organising

How to organise young workers

One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector. This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs. According to a recent TUC survey, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly a third of the total workforce in hotels and restaurants in the UK (migrant workers and women of all ages...

Workers' Liberty 3/3: Factory bulletins in the 1920s and today

Workers' Liberty 3/3 (March 2006) reproduces many communist factory bulletins from the 1920s, and discussion from that era about how they should be produced. "Workers cannot write newspapers? Really? Just tell us some news about your factory". It also includes information on workplace bulletins produced by the AWL. Click here to download pdf.

Covid: workers' controls still needed (John Moloney's column)

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike again from 4-8 May to demand improvements to safety. The branch is committed to taking further action if our demands are not met. Although the Covid numbers are trending the right way, we don’t know when a third wave could hit, how severe it could be, or what might happen with new variants. We need agreements in place now to ensure there aren’t more workers on site than necessary. At its heart this is a fight for a form of workers’ control. We want to ensure a direct say for workers’ representatives in...

Regrouping in British Gas

Over 1,000 workers attended an online meeting organised by the GMB union to discuss the next steps in British Gas engineers’ fight over terms and conditions. British Gas used a “fire and rehire” process to dismiss around 500 engineers who refused to sign new contracts that will see workers work longer for less. Union activists estimate that around another 500 workers left the company voluntarily during the dispute. GMB members struck 43 times against the new contracts, which were finally imposed on 14 April. With no negotiated collective agreement in place, GMB can submit a new pay claim. A...

Uniting in-house and outsourced

In the last week, I’ve had discussions with the United Voices of the World union (UVW), who organise outsourced workers in some parts of the civil service, including the Royal Parks. We’ve worked closely with them in the past; improving the way PCS approaches the organising of outsourced workers has been a central focus of my time in office so far, and strengthening our relationship with UVW has been part of that. Royal Parks is re-tendering its outsourced facilities management contract, and there’s a threat to cleaners’ jobs, which could see cuts of around 50%. UVW members have previously...

Amazon: organising after a defeat

For the union to succeed in the historic drive to get recognition at Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama, USA, fifty-per cent plus one would have had to vote “yes”. Out of the 3,215 workers who voted over seven weeks up to 29 March, 1,798 “no” votes and 738 “yes” votes were recorded before voided and challenged ballots were counted. If the workers had won, they would have been the largest number of workers to certify a union in the private sector in three decades. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is challenging the company for a variety of illegal intimidation...

Vale Peter Simpson, 1963-2020

A tribute to Peter Simpson, lifelong activist with the Electrical Trades Union and Queensland state secretary 2009-2016

DVLA strike solid

The strike at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea, from 6-9 April, was very solid. Workers there were striking against having been forced to come into the physical workplace in far greater numbers than necessary. Around 2,000 workers have been made to come in, when during the first lockdown, numbers in the low hundreds were required on site to perform essential and emergency work only. We estimate that, of that 2,000 or so, around 1,400 joined the strike, so that’s a significant number and one that’s had a big impact on the work there. I think the employer was...

Uber cheats justice as drivers strike

On Monday 22 March food couriers working for UberEats struck in Plymouth, demanding higher pay. At the time of going to press, UberEats drivers in Sheffield are discussing taking action, too. For all that Uber is trying to turn the screws on its food delivery workers and cheat its taxi workers, recent developments in the courts have opened a door for workers to make big gains. A ruling by the UK Supreme Court earlier this year stated that Uber taxi workers (though not yet UberEats workers) should be classed as “dependent contractors”, i.e. a type of worker, also known as a “limb (b) worker”...

Organising couriers in Israel

Uri Metuki spoke to Michael Elms of Solidarity about couriers in Israel fighting for rights of union organisation. Uri leads the “youth and students” section of the Histadrut organising effort. JustEat/10bis employs 1,700 couriers. The other company is called Wolt, which is a spurious self-employment company. We have some couriers who approached us from Wolt, we started talking with them and finding out about the situation, but the organising drive took off with JustEat/10bis. We have more than half the workforce, but they did not recognise the union. They used all kind of union-busting...

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