Lose the Labour levy

Many on the Left, including those who constantly advised us all to “vote Labour without Illusions”, are now convinced that there is no difference between the Tories and the Labour Party, in this, they are wrong. One difference is that the unions still fund New Labour to the tune of millions of pounds.

There are, however, growing signs that trade unionists are growing increasingly angry at handing over their money to such an openly anti-working class party as Labour. In a number of unions, campaigns have been launched aimed at breaking the link with Labour.

When We Fight Back!

Older readers may remember those far off days of the 1970s when attacking greedy militant trade unionist was all the rage. A rain forest's worth of print was produced arguing that organised workers were grabbing all the wealth, causing economic havoc and creating a more unequal Britain. The low paid, less well organised workers, were supposedly left behind in the wage race by their unionised brothers and sisters.

Know Your Rights: trade union membership

You are protected against being fired or refused a job because of trade union membership or activities, including activities in the past. Your employer is not allowed to treat you any differently if you are a member of a trade union. This means that they must not pass you over for promotion or training opportunities, or treat you differently from non-union members in any way. The same right also applies in the unlikely event of discrimination in favour of union members.

In addition, you have the right to be accompanied by a union official in a disciplinary hearing. You can also have someone accompany you in a grievance hearing if the grievance relates to your terms and conditions of employment.

Day of action for sacked Peruvian garment workers

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation have held an informational picket outside Zara, in Liverpool One, and handed out leaflets to customers, staff, and passers-by.

Despite some attention from security guards, who informed us we couldn’t operate on private property, we were able to hand out all our leaflets and our action was generally well received. One woman even came over as we were packing away to inquire what we were up to, and offered her support when we explained what we had been doing and why.

This was part of international solidarity actions supported by the International Workers Association (IWA) for workers in Peru, in response to the sacking of 35 trade unionists. The union members were working in a factory for ‘Topy Top’, one of the major suppliers to high street store Zara, and also a supplier for Gap.

Radical Workers’ Bloc calls for class war against capitalism & ConDem cuts

Today, over 4,000 people braved wind and rain to march and protest against the Lib Dems and the cuts agenda. It was a demonstration of the level of anger people feel – but also the willingness of their “leaders” to merely act as a safety valve, defusing that anger before it reaches the ruling class.

People assembled by the Anglican cathedral to march down to the docks where the protest was held. There were a number of trade union banners, as well as the banners of the Solidarity Federation and Anarchist Federation, whose membership made up theRadical Workers’ Bloc. Despite the rain, the huge turnout and musical accompaniments made it a lively atmosphere.

But whilst the spirit of the rank-and-file made the march vibrant, this was in spite the planning done by trade union leaders, not because of it.

Why workers need to look beyond the TUC

At the TUC’s annual conference, union delegates have backed joint industrial action if “attacks” on jobs, pensions and public services go ahead. The gathering backed a motion which included calls to build “a broad solidarity alliance of unions and communities under threat”.

However, we will not see “hundreds of thousands of workers take to the streets” under the TUC’s leadership.

The fact that trade unionists had to stage a protest outside the conference “lobbying” the TUC to call a national demonstration says it all. We need to be taking the initiative on the streets, not begging for piecemeal protests to be authorised from above.

Looking back at the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike

In March 1984, twenty five years ago, the National Coal Board announced it intended to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. Cortonwood in South Yorkshire was earmarked as the first to close, “imminently”, in the words of the NCB chairman, Ian MacGregor. The miners at Cortonwood immediately came out on strike and by March 12th the National Union of Mineworkers had made the strike national. This was to become the bitterest industrial dispute in most of our lifetimes and marked a major defeat for the working class.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap - Immigrant cleaners: the “hard-to-organise” are self-organising

Workers in contract cleaning face low wages, a lack of basic employment rights, bullying management and victimisation for union activities. However, especially among Latin Americans, self-organisation has sustained struggles against the un-scrupulous multinational companies who employ them, and against the immigration controls which are used to sack un-wanted workers and victimise union acti-vists. Those struggles highlight the inadequacy of the “organising model” of trades unionism promoted by the likes of Unite!