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  • Rail rip-off: uniting to campaign for renationalisation

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The campaign to renationalise the railways is heating up but the TSSA video is not the way to go argues Mick Wattam

  • Pride, solidarity, anger and hope: 2016 for Durham Teaching Assistants

    Durham Teaching Assistants protest. Photo: @TAs_Durham

    Durham Teaching Assistants' year of resistance is summed up by Megan Charlton

  • What happened to the Christmas of discontent?

    Unite The Union, Transport House, Belfast. Photo: Flickr/William Murphy

    Despite the media's pre-Christmas strike hysteria the strikes didn't take place - Richard Allday examines why

  • What is really going on with the Southern Rail strikes?

    President of ASLEF Tosh McDonald. Photo: Mick Wattam / Youtube

    Doncaster Counterfire speaks to ASLEF President Tosh McDonald about the industrial action on Southern Rail

  • Southern Rail: striking for safety

    Rail replacement bus for Southern Rail services. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    Southern Rail train drivers and guards continue their strike action, Jonathan Maunders reports from the picket lines

  • Southern Rail: playing politics for profit

    Southern train at Falmer Station. Photo: Geograph

    As half a million would-be passengers endure another day of frustration, they are being encouraged to blame fellow workers for their misery, instead of the real culprits

  • Studs Terkel: Politics, Culture, But Mostly Conversation

    studs terkel

    Studs Terkel’s life was spent documenting working-class life and struggle in the US. Alan Wieder’s biography captures him splendidly, says Graham Kirkwood

  • A vote for McCluskey is a vote for hope

    Len McCluskey speaks at a Bursary or Bust protest. Photo: WIkipedia

    Unite's general secretary has resigned to trigger an election, but hopes to continue as head of UK's biggest union

  • Striking to defend the education of their communities

    Durham Teaching Assistants preparing to picket, County Durham, November 2016

    The Durham Teaching Assistants ratcheted up their campaign with two days of strike action last week. Megan Charlton was there to report

  • Defend the Kinsley School cleaners

    The 'Kinsley Three' - Lesley Leake, Marice Hall and Karen McGee. Photo: John Westmoreland

    The small disputes, which appear separate, are coming together to form a movement, argues says John Westmoreland

  • Solidarity with Durham Teaching Assistants: what comes around, goes around

    Durham TAs taking their fight to the street, Birmingham, 2 October 2016. Photo: Cathy Crowther

    Thousands took to the streets of Birmingham last weekend to protest the Tory Party conference. Megan Charlton of the Durham TAs was there to participate and report

  • Junior doctors: renewed strike action

    junior doctors

    Junior doctors must continue to stand firm against the creeping marketisation of the NHS, writes Mona Kamal

  • Gig economy meets the real world: the Deliveroo strike


    Deliveroo workers across London are taking part in strike action, Joe Odell reports from the picket line

  • The race to the bottom - the secret life of the courier

    Deliveroo Rider

    As Deliveroo drivers take strike action, a cycle courier explains the reality of precarious work

  • Southern Rail crisis: re-nationalisation is the only answer

    Southern Railway. Photo: Wikipedia

    Elaine Graham-Leigh takes a look at the crisis of Southern, caused by years of privatisation, and resulting in misery for staff and passengers 

  • China on Strike: Narratives of Workers' Resistance

    china on strike

    China on Strike gives in insights into Chinese workers’ struggles and the nature of capitalism in China, writes Orlando Hill

  • Class struggle in France: a temporary stalemate

    François Hollande, President of the French Republic. Photo: Wikipedia

    The government has been stunned by the strength of the strikes and protests, but what now for the movement? John Mullen investigates

  • Junior doctors: the fight goes on

    junior doctors

    The battle to save the NHS is only just beginning, argues leading activist Mona Kamal

  • Lecturers' strike: fighting for fairness and the future

    Lunchtime protest outside the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) Central London. Photo: Graham Kirkwood

    Higher education (HE) workers across the country took the first of two consecutive days' strike action in the campaign for fair pay. Graham Kirkwood reports 

  • Junior doctors: we will keep fighting

    Junior doctors' picket outside UCLH. Photo: Yannis Gourtsoyannis

    Support surges for the junior doctors as they strike, in another bad day for Jeremy Hunt

  • The Tories' crisis is our opportunity

    Source: Wikipedia

    The tide is turning against austerity. How can we take advantage of the Tories’ crisis?

  • Limpiadores: SOAS Cleaners' struggle - podcast

    'Justice for Cleaners' banner outside SOAS. Photo: ReelNews

    Yasmin Dahnoun speaks to Fernando González, whose documentary Limpiadores tells the story of the SOAS cleaners' fight for justice

  • Rosa Luxemburg’s The Mass Strike - key texts

    rosa luxemburg

    Rosa Luxemburg argued that the majority of people would be won to socialism through struggle, writes Paul Vernell in this introduction to The Mass Strike

  • Always in the front line

    Bryant and May match girls strike committee, 1888

    Women workers have been at the forefront of every new wave of struggle

  • Huge support on the streets for junior doctors

    March for the junior doctors against contract imposition. Source: Garry Knight

    As the junior doctors strike again, student nurse Danielle Tiplady reports from the streets

  • This is serious: what you can do now to support the junior doctors

    junior doctors protest

    The junior doctors dispute is the most important industrial confrontation in years. Chris Nineham explains why they need all our support in the coming strike

  • A junior doctor: Why we must stand firm

    Junior doctor strike 10 February 2016

    Junior doctor Mona Kamal explains why it's vital that doctors keep up their action, and why the public needs to rally to their defence

  • Junior doctors strike again: Health Secretary torpedos last minute deal

    Junior doctors at a picket line in Sunderland. Photo: Mark Tyers

    As junior doctors strike across the country, Mark Tyers reports from Sunderland

  • Junior doctors' strike live!

    Live reports, photos and videos from the junior doctors strike

  • Junior doctors: they thought we would be easy targets - podcast

    Junior doctor Mona Kamal argues that the government is attacking doctors as a means to further undermine the NHS

  • The strike that silenced the Tories

    Junior doctors' picket

    The junior doctors have silenced the government. Reports from Whipps Cross Hospital in London and a picket line turned protest in Brighton

  • Junior doctors strike to save our NHS

    For the first time in 40 years, tens of thousands of junior doctors took to their picket lines on Tuesday to oppose government plans

  • We are striking for patients, not against them

    Junior Doctors strike at The Royal London Hospital

    The Royal London Hospital was today host to the first junior doctor strike in 40 years, after the British Medical Association failed to reach an agreement with the government, reports Callum Thomas

  • NHS action spreads: student nurses protest - podcast

    Student nurses protest. Photo: Screen grab from Unison video

    We caught up with student nurse Danielle Tiplady, one of the organisers of tomorrow's demonstration against the scrapping of student bursaries

  • What you can do for the junior doctors

    Junior doctor Mona Kamal calls for support for the upcoming strikes and the demonstration organised by student nurses this Saturday. Only a united strategy will be effective

  • Health warning: junior doctors need your support

    With an unprecedented 98% of junior doctors voting in favour of strike action, Mona Kamal considers how they joined the frontline in defending the NHS

  • Trade Union Bill: unfit for democracy

    TUC demo

    The Tories seek to introduce some of the most draconian and authoritarian labour laws of recent times, writes Kieran Crowe

  • Bully for Cameron – or why the Tories are natural bullies!

    A government that got the votes of just 25% of the elctorate wants workers to jump through yet more hoops before being able to take lawful industrial action writes Richard Allday

  • Gateshead teachers strike on May Day to save jobs at Thorp Academy

    NUT members at Thorp Academy in Gateshead took strike action on Friday in defence of colleagues threatened by compulsory redundancy - Tony Dowling reports

  • Silvertown: The Lost Story Of A Strike That Shook London And Helped Launch The Modern Labour Movement

    Silvertown bookcover

    John Tully’s history of the Silvertown strike reveals industrial and imperial connections, and the nature of the worker’s struggle against them at a crucial period, argues John Westmoreland

  • Welcome to dodgy Dave’s second-hand democracy sale!

    London bus workers strike outside Waterloo Bus Garage in London. Photo: PA

    Richard Allday responds to the latest Tory attacks on democracy, from curtailing trade union rights to eroding the powers of local authorities

  • London bus driver: why we're striking

    Bus strikers in 2012. Photo: Pete Murray

    London bus driver and senior Unite rep Preston Tabois spoke to Counterfire's Dan Poulton about the London-wide strike and its wider context

  • John Lewis cleaners and the fight for the living wage

    The cleaners at John Lewis are the latest in a surge of grassroots worker-run initiatives fighting for the London Living wage reports Matt Bonner

  • NHS workers strike against the pay freeze

    Midwives on the picket line in Sunderland

    A report from the picket lines in Sunderland as NHS workers strike against a four-year long public sector pay freeze

  • Carrington power station site shut down by anti-blacklisting picket.

    Steve Leadbeater reports from Carrington power station which has been shut down in an action by Unite rank and file activists

  • St Mungo’s workers strike against pay cuts and 'tick box' care

    St Mungo

    Reuben Bard-Rosenberg reports from Haringey on the final day of a week long strike by workers at a homless charity against huge pay cuts

  • Firefighters issue further eight days of strike action

    Firefighters have today issued a further eight day period of strike action as the Westminster government have not improved their pension proposals.

  • PCS: Tax workers stage more strikes over job cuts

    Tens of thousands of tax workers will strike this week in an ongoing dispute over job cuts.

  • London Underground Sodexo staff to strike in union victimisation dispute

    Staff working for London Underground caterers Sodexo are to strike next week over the victimisation and dismissal of union activist Petrit Mihaj. The strike action will be between 06.30 hours and 11.00 hours on Monday 4th August.

  • Strike action brings victory for Tyneside Safety Glass workers!

    strike banner

    Three week strike wins the reinstatement of a sacked colleague and a 2.8% pay rise, with further above-inflation rises for the next two years

  • Social trade unionism can break the corporate juggernaut

    People's Assembly protest 21 June 2014

    For trade unions to fight back and win we need to tap into the massive political anger and idealism that is running right across society argues John Westmoreland

  • Thousands rally as public services are brought to a standstill

    Trafalgar Square

    Thousands of public sector workers and supporters descended on Trafalgar Square in a protest over pay, pensions and living standards. Reuben Bard-Rosenberg reports

  • #J10 liveblog

    Union notice board

    The largest strike in years rocks the Tories - rolling coverage from around the country in pictures, videos, tweets and reports

  • #J10: the people strike back

    National Demonstration Against Austerity. Photo:  Marienna Pope-Weidemann

    As millions strike and march together, we need to develop the alliance between unions and the majority who are under attack argues Chris Nineham

  • Gateshead: Unite the union members vote unanimously for strike action‏


    Glass workers in Gateshead are striking against an insulting pay deal. Tony Dowling reports

  • Ritzy strike: Samba and celebrity support

    The staff of the Ritzy cinema on their sixth day on strike

    On their sixth strike day, the staff at Ritzy cinema staged a lively protest, which attracted the support of the local community, reports Peter Stäuber

  • The return of mass strikes

    It looks as if 10 July will be the largest day of strike action for two years. John Rees reports from discussions at the national meeting of the People’s Assembly

  • 5 reasons the strike in China is terrifying! (to transnational capitalism)

    China has seen one of the largest strikes ever in its private sector. Ashok Kumar reports

  • Tube strike: RMT liveblog

    RMT banner

    The RMT coverage of the strike to defend jobs and services on the London Underground

  • Tube strikers fight to save ticket offices

    Finsbury Park this morning

    Dan Poulton reports from the Finsbury Park picket line in the battle to save ticket offices from Boris Johnson's closure plans

  • NUT conference report‏: Engage! Pressure! Strike!

    One of the most interesting topics at the NUT's conference was not about whether to strike but how much strike action we should take! Tony Dowling reports

  • Doncaster fighting back in support of Care UK strikers

    Kirstine Carbutt, Care UK Doncaster shop steward addressing the demo. Photo John Rees

    Trade union banners from around the country were visible in support of the Care UK strikers' struggle

  • Video: Ritzy cinema workers strike for a living wage

    Britain's most successful arthouse cinema is shut down for the day as Ritzy cinema workers in Brixton, South London, strike for a living wage

  • Construction strikes spread - the fight for direct employment has begun

    Electricians strike in Three Bridges, Crawley. Photo: Site Worker

    Wildcat strikes have hit the construction industry as workers demand proper employment rights. Steve Leadbeater argues this is a battle we can clearly win and one we can not afford to lose

  • Thousands march to Central Hall to support NUT teachers' strike

    School students turned out in large numbers to support their teachers. Photograph Feyzi Ismail

    Teachers unite to fight against the cuts and unreasonable work loads. Ellen Graubart reports

  • Teachers: thousands strike and march in London


    Many here feel that the basic right of education for all are being compromised by the coalition government and so are taking a stand by marching today

  • SOAS cleaners in unprecedented two day strike for equal rights

    J4C strike picketFor the first time SOAS cleaners taken two days of strike action to win what most students and staff at SOAS perceive as perfectly reasonable demands reports Ruairidh Paton

  • Higher education strike liveblog 6th Feb

    Pickets in OxfordPhotos and tweets from strikers and supporters as workers in higher education across the UK took a third day's united strike action over pay

  • Five reasons to support the tube strike

    Picket line at Harrow on the Hill station. Photo by Manuel CortesClare Birkett offers five good reasons to back the Tube strikes

  • Tube strike - Finsbury Park report

    SolidarityChris Nineham and Feyzi Ismail speak to pickets at Finsbury Park station during a 48-hour strike over job and service cuts

  • Tube strike - London Bridge report

    London Bridge Tube strikeFran Legg and Alistair Cartwright talk to a union rep on this morning's picket at London Bridge

  • Tube strike live blog

    Pickets at BrixtonImages, reports and tweets from the 48 hour tube strike in defence of jobs and services on the London Underground

  • Lively picket lines at SOAS for latest strike

    SOAS picket lineSOAS saw lively picket lines yesterday, with staff and students turning out to support demands for fair pay

  • Korean railway strike: what is at stake?

    Members of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stand face to face with South Korean policemen at their head office in Seoul December 22, 2013. Photo: Bae Jeong-Hyun

    Thousands of South Korean railworkers have ended their strike after three weeks of intense struggle against the right-wing President - but the fight is far from over writes Clive Tillman

  • Video: donate to the #3Cosas strike on 27 - 29 Jan

    clipAn appeal for contributions to the #3Cosas strike fund ahead of industrial action between the 27th and 29th of January

  • Staff and students defy management intimidation at Queen Mary’s UCU strike

    StrikeStaff and students at Queen Mary, University of London, rallied today in defiance of an aggressive attack on the right to strike by the college management, writes Katherine Connelly

  • Miners strike lies: thirty years of hurt‏

    miners strikeReleased cabinet papers confirm what we always knew - that Thatcher lied about almost every aspect of the Great Miners Strike of 1984-85. Former striking miner Joe Henry looks back in anger

  • Firefighters strike again in defence of their pension

    Firefighters StrikeFirefighters from Sunderland joined others across England and Wales as they strike for the fifth day over its ongoing dispute with the government over pensions. Mark Tyers reports

  • Goldsmiths strike and occupation

    GoldsmithsStudents at Goldsmiths University have occupied in support of striking staff

  • Strike in Further and Higher education 3 Dec 2013

    Images and video from the coordinated strike action by UCU, Unite, Unison, EIS and GMB unions in further and higher education

  • No ordinary pay strike: a battle for the future of education

    UCU strike

    Unite, UCU, Unison, GMB and EIS members working in post-16 education are striking for fair pay as five years of poverty pay rises take their toll

  • 3 Cosas strike live blog

    3 Cosas bannerCleaners and their supporters are taking two days of strike action at University of London to win sick pay, holiday pay and pensions

  • Video: Help make an inspiring strike even stronger‏

    3CosasCampaignOver 100 low-paid workers at University of London are going on strike next week. The strike is on 27th-28th November

  • York HE strike report

    comment'Although pay is important I feel incredibly angry about the way the University is putting education second to the need to make money from businesses on whose behalf the research is done'

  • SOAS occupies in solidarity with HE strike

    SOAS samba band'The day so far has been exciting, energetic and incredibly positive', reports Sam Dathi from the SOAS solidarity occupation

  • Teachers' strikes – where next?

    teachers strikeIf the teaching unions are to develop a strategy to win, then the joint action must be preserved and extended

  • People's Assembly welcomes postal workers strike vote

    Statement by the People's Assembly welcomes the postal workers strike on Nov 4th - the day before the Bonfire of Austerity day of Action

  • University workers vote to strike over pay

    University StrikeWorkers in Higher Education look set to take on the employers over years of pay cuts reports Graham Kirkwood, UCU member at Queen Mary University of London

  • King’s Lynn firefighters on strike

    ‘It is not the pay it is a matter of principle’

  • Support the PCS on Budget day

    The PCS union has voted to take strike action over pensions and pay this Wednesday as George Osborne announces another round of austerity measures in the annual Budget

  • Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Rent Strike

    Mary BarbourTrish Caird looks at the life of Mary Barbour, leader of the 1915 Glasgow Rent Strike - a movement that was principally led, organised and executed by women

  • Strike Magazine, Issue 1

    Elle Gierre finds a wealth of provocative, sizzling and dangerous ideas in the first issue of Strike! Magazine, with its diverse, visual and thought-provoking pieces

  • An introduction to Rosa Luxemburg’s The Mass Strike

    Rosa LuxemburgMarx 101 is a series of meetings to introduce the Marxist classics to activists in the twenty first century. Alastair Stephens continues the series with a look at Luxemburg's investigation of the mass strike

  • Runcorn strike: 'we're not slaves any more'

    Construction workers at a site in Runcorn have walked out in protest at poor conditions. Elly Badcock interviews a worker on site - referred to as ‘A’ due to the blacklist

  • Spain strikes back on N14

    madrid protest N14 2012Barcelona based writer Sofia Tipaldou on how the European day of action went in Spain

  • 'De-skilled, de-motivated, demoralised': Gateshead College lecturers strike back

    Lecturers at Gateshead College took to the picket lines again on Thursday morning to protest in their on-going dispute about conditions of service. “We‘ve been de-skilled, de-motivated & demoralised”, as one striker told me.

    As they organised placards for their members’ picket, UCU reps Alison Richardson & Julie Wright described the anger of lecturers at Gateshead College. They told me of how lecturers feel their professionalism is being undermined. The college wants to reduce the amount of planning and preparation time from 12 hours a week to just four.

    For some lecturers, weekly contact hours have increased from 24 to 33. The college also wants no cap on the annual hours worked.

    “There is a huge amount of discontent and a lack of confidence in the management’s decision-making process and what it’s been based upon,” says lecturer Steve Forester-Melville.

    “Many staff have been ‘demoted’ to learning facilitators after lecturing and running courses in the college for years,” he says.

    Union members are also angry that a structure that should have been in place at the start of term, giving time to adjust and prepare for new students, was implemented in October after students had been in for a month.

    “This has caused the biggest mess,” says Steve, “with courses without staff responsible for them and lecturers having to pick up or in some cases drop classes at the last minute, and all the while the management continue to say that the whole re-structuring is to improve the ‘learner experience’”.

    There have been posts on the college facebook page from many students expressing discontent about the disruption to the start of their courses at the college.

    Ritchie Bathgate, Chair of the UCU Branch at Gateshead College, said: "Members have shown great resolve by voting again for strike action in pursuit of an agreement on workload which we believe will protect the quality of education we deliver. We will continue this dispute until we have a deal that we can all sign up to."

    Jon Bryan, Regional Support Official for UCU, reported on his blog that, “There was good support at all picket lines. At the Skills Academy, many drivers showed their support by beeping their horns as they drove along the Kingsway.”

    A further strike by UCU members has been called for next Wednesday (10 October).

  • TUC: making resistance real

    Union protestThe TUC Congress has shown it's prepared to fight against the Coalition's austerity policies, now we need a strategy to make it happen argues Lindsey German

  • A Marxist History of the World part 85: June 1936: the French general strike and factory occupations

    In the mid-1930s French workers launched a wave of strikes and occupations. Neil Faulkner explains how the Stalinised Communist Party worked to contain this resistance

  • Korean truck drivers stage nationwide strike

    Clive Tillman reports from South Korea on a seminal truckers protest

  • Lessons from the Quebec Student Strike

    Students on strike in Quebec with a banner that says out of the classroom onto the streetsCayley Sorochan reports on the student strikes in Quebec and discusses the lessons that can be taken from them

  • UCU: Salford University staff strike to save jobs

    UCU members protesting outside Salford UniversityFaced with another ‘restructure’ - cutting nearly 200 jobs including compulsory redundancies - Salford University UCU members have declared enough is enough

  • The Spanish Miners' Strike

    Charley Dohren reports from Spain on the militant miners' strike that is shaking Rajoy's austerity regime.

  • Tilbury: strikes return to the docks

    tilbury strikersTilbury dockers said 'enough is enough' this week by taking official strike action for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century

  • Turkish government attacks the right to strike

    Kemal Ulker reports on the Turkish Government ’s plans to broaden its anti-union policies in an attack on the right to strike.

  • Video: London protest for Palestine's hunger strikers

    video clipPro-Palestinian activists gathered, Saturday, to remember the forcefull expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland with full complicity from the west, and pressure the British government.

  • Health workers: 'we need co-ordinated strikes to defend pensions'

    A Unison activist calls for coordinated strike action after the union's members in the NHS reject the government's 'final offer'

  • Teachers and lecturers must join the strike on May 10

    N30 strikeThe pensions battle continues on May 10 when civil servants and health workers will take strike action. John Westmoreland argues that teachers and lecturers need to be out with them.

  • Palestine: prisoners to escalate hunger strike – بيــان من الأسرى الفلسطينين في سجون العـدو الصهيوني

    In a statement by Palestinian prisoners the demands of the Karameh Hunger Strike are outlined.

  • Teachers vote to strike - a long hot summer for the Tories?

    NUT memberAt their annual conference teachers in the NUT union have voted to continue with strike action to win their campaign against the coalition government's attacks on pensions.

  • Spain: millions take to the streets in general strike

    Chris Bambery reports on the general strike which rocked Spain as millions challenged austerity policies being implemented by Prime Minster Mariano Rajoy.

  • British Police to strike

    Police are to go on strike for the first time in 93 years in return for sacrificing their lucrative overtime payments and bonuses.

  • Kurdish activists begin hunger strike in London

    20 Kurdish activists will be on hunger strike from the 13th to the 17th of March in protest against increasing repression in Turkey. 

    Fedbir, the Kurdish Federation of the UK, will be staging the hunger strike on the northern terrace of Trafalgar Square, in parallel with similar actions which have been taking place within Turkey and across Europe.
    Hundreds of prisoners in Turkish jails, including imprisoned members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party and other elected officials, have been on hunger strike since the end of February. The hunger strikes are a desperate plea to the Turkish government to halt the latest clampdown on Kurdish political organising and protest. In the last three years, over 8000 people - including elected MP’s mayors and local councillors, journalists, students, human rights activists, and academics - have been sent to prison in what Prime Minister Erdogan’s government refers to as counter-terrorism operations.
    These operations constitute major violations of human rights. Arrests have been made over speeches, newspaper articles and poetic expression that support Kurdish rights in Turkey. Amnesty International has recently expressed its concern over the vague and broad anti-terror laws in Turkey. Turkey has defined terrorism not by actions and tactics but by political aims, which has led to thousands of individuals being prosecuted for membership of a terrorist organisation or for denigrating ‘Turkishness’.
    The strikers are also demanding freedom for Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who is currently jailed on the prison island of Imrali in almost complete isolation and without access to lawyers since July 2011. 36 members of Abdullah Ocalan’s defence team were also arrested and imprisoned in December 2011.
    For more information contact Fedbir, Kurdish Federation UK.
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Israel kills children in Gaza air strikes

    12 year old killed by Israeli raidThe Israeli occupation army killed 13 Palestinians and injured 21 in a series of airstrikes on Friday (9 March). They bombed civilians, including children, in a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip - in Gaza city, Rafah, Nusirat and Jabalya.

  • India: millions set to strike

    People demonstrating in IndiaIndia's biggest display of working class strength for years is due on the 28th of February when 100 million workers take strike action. Sam Beaton analyses this volatile situation.

  • Swindon hospital workers strike back against racism and bullying

    video clipA strike by hospital workers in Swindon has galvanised the GMB union and the Goan community in the town to challenge bullying and harassment at the privately-run NHS Great Western Hospital.

  • News flash: Balfour lose in court, Sparks strike is on

    newsStop press: Balfour Beatty lose case against Unite. Sparks ballot result stands. Unite issues 7-day notice of intention to strike all BB sites.

  • Palestine: Khader Adnan on hunger strike

    Free KaderJoseph Daher visited the solidarity tent for Khader Adnan during his recent trip to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He explains why Adnan’s protest is significant.

  • Stagecoach drivers strike

    BannerDrivers working for Stagecoach escalate a 3-month dispute over unfair pay rates, Union News reports from Rotherham.

  • Workers at Remploy strike

    Remploy workerUnionNews reports on the first strike in the 65 year history of the specialised agency for disabled workers in the UK, Remploy.

  • Wincanton drivers strike

    Wincanton workersUnionNews reports on the start of seven days of strike action by more than 120 fuel haulage drivers in a campaign of industrial action to try to prevent cuts worth around 20% of their income.

  • Lightning strikes in tax offices over privatisation fears

    More than 20,000 tax officers will hold lightning walkouts tomorrow (16) against plans to bring in private companies to do their work, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.

    Union members who work in call centres and enquiry offices across the UK will stage a series of short strikes and are planning more for 31 January - the deadline for self-assessment returns and a key date in HMRC's diary.

    The action is in opposition to the appointment of two private companies, Sitel and Teleperformance, to run call handling trials in HMRC tax credit contact centres in Lillyhall in Cumbria and Bathgate in Scotland.

    The year-long trials are due to start in early February and the union is warning they risk paving the way for privatisation in the department, and come at a time when tens of thousands of civil service jobs are being cut.

    If HMRC believes there are issues to address in its call centres, it should invest in its own staff and in training, instead of handing public money to private companies.

    Staff will walk out at 10am for 30 minutes and again at 4.30pm. Anyone on a shift that finishes after 7pm will leave work 30 minutes early.

    PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "When jobs in HMRC and the civil service are being cut in their tens of thousands, it is entirely wrong to start handing contracts to private companies.

    "Instead of privatising ever more of our public services, the government should be investing in its own staff to ensure they are equipped and trained to provide the essential services they are proud to deliver."

  • Portugal: government on the rampage

    Portugal's new right-wing coalition government  is attacking living standards and urging young people to  emigrate, writes João Camargo.

  • Shanghai strike enters 8th day amid wave of unrest in China

    striking workersChina is experiencing increased social unrest as strike wave hits Shanghai region and the Pearl River Delta industrial area, whilst in Guangdong, thousands of villagers staged a sit-into protest against corruption and repression.

  • N30 Plymouth _ Union Solidarity with Occupy Plymouth _ 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Tony Staunton emphasises Trade Union solidarity with the Occupy Plymouth group.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Dave Franklin PCS _ 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Dave Franklin, PCS, gives the last speech of the day at the Plymouth Holiday Inn, 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Chaz Singh & Paddy Ryan, PTUC Hon President 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Chaz Singh of Fatah-He and World War II Veteran, 91 year old Paddy Ryan, speak with passion, clarity and commitment at the Plymouth Holiday Inn on 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Phil Smith ATL _ 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Phil Smith of the ATL talks about the strike and the issue of agency workers in the teaching profession at the Holiday Inn, Plymouth on 30th November 2011..
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Chris Webb CWU _ 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Awesome speech by Chris Webb of the CWU. Provocative, penetrating and inspiring stuff! All the best to Plymouth Argyle Supporters!
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Poem and Sarah Allen-Melvin PCS 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Rob Barrett reads a poem and Sarah Allen-Melvin gives a rousing speech at Plymouth Holiday Inn, 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Cathy Wallis NASUWT 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Interesting and informative insights into the real issues surrounding pensions from Cathy Wallis of the NASUWT. The Holiday Inn, Plymouth, 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Pete Allensen Unite 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Pete Allensen of Unite addresses the audience at the N30 rally in Plymouth Holiday Inn on 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Sharon Battishill UNISON & Harriet Davis NUT 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Sharon Battishill of UNISON and Harriet Davis of the NUT address the rally at the Holiday Inn, Plymouth on 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Pat Sikorski RMT 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Pat Sikorski of the RMT gives an interesting, informative, and inspiring speech about the role of Trade Unions and how they can move forward with the battle against austerity.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ 2500 marchers in Plymouth City Centre 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org 2500 marchers including Trade Unionists and Occupy movement activists march through Plymouth city centre on 30th November 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Derriford Hospital 00.00 am 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    Plymouth's first picket line forms, just after midnight on 30th November 2011. www.counterfire.org
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Chelson Meadow Picket Line 6.30 am 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Barry and Kevin talk about their reasons for striking in Plymouth on November 30th 2011.
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  • N30 Plymouth _ Prince Rock Depot Picket Line 4.30 am 30.11.11 _ Strike! Occupy! Resist!

    www.counterfire.org Steve and Ryan talk about their reasons for striking in Plymouth on November 30th 2011.
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  • Radio debate: would you scab on the pensions strike?

    John ReesThe coalition government is trying to recruit civil servants to act as border agency staff during the November 30th pensions strike - John Rees debates the issues on Radio 2's the Jeremy Vine show.

  • N30 Strikes, would you scab? John Rees on Jeremy Vine show 24 Nov 2011

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  • Egypt: military rulers repress strike wave

    http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/23417.aspxEgyptian revolutionary Mohamed Atef writes from Cairo with a brief background to the workers struggle in recent weeks.

  • Video: Unison votes 'Yes' for Nov30 strike

    Unison screenUnionNewsreports on the ballot announcement by UNISON of an overwhelming majority in favour of strike action against the coalition government's proposals to cut public sector pensions and force hundreds of thousands to pay more, work longer, for less money in retirement.

  • Healthcare workers strike in Northern Ireland

    More than 26,000 healthcare workers in Northern Ireland went on strike yesterday to protest against budget cuts in the sector and potential job losses. They will likely join millions on strike on 30th November.

  • Petition: Students and the NUS must build the 30th November strikes

    Student leaders have issued a petition aimed to pressure the NUS to call a national day of action on 30th November, the day on which possibly millions of workers could go on strike. Sign the petition via the link below.

  • Newcastle: teachers, students and supporters unite at Kenton School picket

    Teachers from the NUT, ATL and NASUWT unions at Kenton School, a large secondary school in Newcastle, began the first of three days of strike action today. They are taking action over plans to turn the school into an academy.

  • All out for the 30th Nov... the perfect storm is approaching

    TUC voteThe coming together of economic and political crisis with mass strike action is an historical opportunity for the left, argues John Rees.

  • #N30 - trade unions plan united strike for pensions

    Marching together on 30 June
    The fight is on. TUC conference today unanimously backed co-ordinated industrial action to defend public sector pensions. The country's three largest unions - Unite, Unison and GMB - formally announced they will ballot members for strikes.

    On 30 June civil service union PCS, teacher unions NUT and ATL and lecturers' union UCU held a co-ordinated national strike involving over half a million people. They plan futher national strike action in November.

    But today's announcement by the big battalions of Unison, Unite and GMB holds out the hope of a huge escalation in the campaign to protect pensions. Other unions balloting for action are the Fire Brigades Union, teachers' NASUWT, Scottish teachers' EIS, senior civil service union FDA and Northern Ireland's NIPSA.

    There have been strikes by local government workers in Birmigham, Southampton and Doncaster. But their unions, most importantly Unison which has over a million members across local government and the NHS, have previously held back from national strike action.

    TUC leader Brendan Barber announced the date as 30 November following a special meeting of public sector unions immediately after TUC conference. National co-ordination is vital to confront a concerted government effort to make workers pay more, work longer and get less.

    The announcement of a ballot by Unison general secretary Dave Prentis was greeted by a standing ovation at the TUC. Prentis has recently shown he can retreat rapidly from good rhetoric. There must now be huge grassroots pressure to turn words into action. The stakes could hardly be higher.

    Ed Miliband's pathetic stance on the strikes has already been thrown back at him by the Tories in prime minister's question time. This sort of behaviour by Labour leaders is bad enough at any time, but when strikes are clearly on the horizon it leaves him irrelevant - and himself part of a 'squeezed middle' who will become increasingly weak and marginal.

    Unity is key - across the public sector unions and reaching out to the private sector. As PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said today: "We have always said that the more united we are, the harder it will be for the government to push through their ideologically-driven and damaging cuts. This is not just a fight for public servants, we want fair pensions for all."

    Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, has emphasised the need to link up with private sector workers over pensions, especially since the government is trying to divide and rule over supposedly 'gold plated' public sector pensions. Given the weakness of union organisation in the private sector, this is an essential part of building a movement across the whole working class. McCluskey has also stressed the need for a coalition of resistance, which can give a boost to the international conference against austerity on Saturday 1 October.

    There will now need to be jointly-organised mass campaign rallies and protests throughout the country. These can be on a much bigger scale than before. Trade union activists will be campaigning for the highest possible Yes vote.

    The pensions dispute is for the whole anti-cuts movement, not just public sector trade unionists. It is our movement's best chance to strike a blow against this government's austerity drive.

    Also published at Counterfire

  • Pensions battle: unions plan united strike on 30 November

    United strike action by over a million public sector workers came a step closer today, as Britain's three biggest unions announced strike ballots over government attacks on pensions.

  • Egypt: strikes spread ahead of Tahrir mass rally

    As militant textile workers in Mahalla plan to strike indefinitely from Saturday, Egypt's Revolutionary Youth Coalition has called for a mass rally in Tahrir Square this Friday.

  • New term, new strikes: teaching unions set to escalate pensions campaign

    Message from Christine Blower, general secretary, to NUT members:

    'Thank you for your continued support for our campaign to defend teachers' pensions. This term will see an escalation of the campaign.

    We are continuing to work closely with colleagues in ATL and UCU following our extremely well-supported action on 30 June. Given the Government's position we expect that further industrial action will be required later this term. Our sister union in Scotland - the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) - is preparing to ballot their members, as is the National Association of Head Teachers.

    The Government has had numerous opportunities to negotiate fairly on public sector pensions. However, Ministers have persistently refused to listen to the facts. Teachers' pensions are affordable and sustainable. We cannot and will not stand by and see them eroded for purely political reasons.

    As the General Secretary of the only union to campaign consistently for one union for all teachers, I am delighted that the teaching profession is coming together against the unnecessary attacks that the Government has launched on our pensions.

    Our campaign will be even stronger now. We will be in touch next week about the next steps in the campaign.'

  • Oxfordshire youth workers to strike against cuts | 23 August

    Youth workers in Oxfordshire are taking strike action on Tuesday in defence of their jobs and of Oxfordshire’s youth service – all youth centres face closure in David Cameron’s constituency.

  • Support the indefinite strike at South Yorkshire Newspapers

    Last Friday, journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers went on all out indefinite strike to fight massive cuts at their newspaper, whose titles include the Doncaster Free Press.

  • Teaching unions meet to co-ordinate November strikes

    This has just been circulated to NUT members from the union's general secretary Christine Blower.

    'I'm writing to update you on our pensions campaign and our negotiations with Government.

    Following the recent TUC-led discussions, detailed talks will now be held on each public sector scheme including our Teachers' Pension Scheme.

    Our strike on 30 June showed the Government the extent of anger within the profession. It had a positive impact on public opinion and exposed the Government's arguments about affordability as untrue.

    We remain committed to negotiating an agreement on our pensions. Strike action is always a last resort. There is a real danger, however, that the Government may try to impose arbitrary constraints which prevent agreement happening. The Government has not conceded any of its demands and continues to threaten increases in our pension contributions as a first step from next April.

    All of the England and Wales teacher unions met today and began to draw up joint campaigning plans for the Autumn term. We hope the Government will agree to genuine negotiations. However, if the Government will not budge, then ATL, NUT and UCU will have to consider further industrial action in November. NAHT and UCAC have also now decided to ballot their members for industrial action.

    For a joint statement from the ATL, NUT and UCU on taking forward the pensions campaign, go to http://www.teachers.org.uk/pensions

    The Government has lost teachers' confidence over its handling of our pensions but it now has a final chance to listen to reason.

    We wish you a restful summer holiday so that we can all return renewed and refreshed and determined to protect our pensions.'

  • King’s Lynn - supporting the strike, campaigning against cuts

    video clipIn this activist video, William Alderson follows anti-cuts campaigners in King's Lynn as they visit striking PCS members on the picket line and campaign against cuts in the town centre

  • June 30th Strike Live Blog

    Reports, images and video from Thursday's public sector strikes against attacks on pensions - from the Coalition of Resistance June 30 Live Blog.

  • Public Sector Pensions Strike 30th June - King's Lynn

    www.coalitionofresistance.org Video by William Alderson
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  • 30th June Pensions Strike - King's Lynn

    www.coalitionofresistance.org by William Alderson
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  • June 30 Public sector Strike over Pensions London Protest

    Raw footage of 45 minutes of London Protest passing at junction of Kingsway and Aldwych. My battery ran out - the march continued for over 15 minutes after I stopped filming. www.counterfire.org
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  • Support the pensions strike - build the movement against cuts

    On StrikeThe UK’s biggest co-ordinated industrial action for decades takes place on June 30th - everyone who opposes the cuts must support the strikes - and help make them part of a European wide movement of direct action in resistance to austerity.

  • NUT leader: no progress in negotiations - strike on Thursday

    Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, sent this message to NUT members yesterday:

    'After the conclusion of today's talks with Government, the NUT unfortunately has no other option but to go ahead with the planned day of strike action on Thursday 30 June.

    The Government isn't listening

    The Government is still saying that teachers will have to pay more, work longer and get less. This despite the fact that teachers' pensions were only recently reformed, are affordable as confirmed by the National Audit office and the valuation promised in that agreement has still not taken place.

    Unfortunately, the Government has done nothing more today than confirm that it has no intention of listening to teachers. We will, of course, attend all future talks but, for talks to be meaningful, the Government really does need to address teachers' central concerns. The NUT needs to demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst members on this issue.

    We are not alone

    The NUT will be taking strike action alongside colleagues in the ATL on 30 June. Lecturers in the UCU and civil servants in the PCS will also be taking action on that day.

    The Government's stance means that action on Thursday is unavoidable and unless the Government starts listening rather than simply imposing its will, we will have little choice but to consider further action.

    Please support the strike action on 30 June and join us if you can at one of the many rallies taking place across England and Wales. You can find the event nearest to you here: http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/13433

    To keep up-to-date with developments, follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/nutonline

    If you have not yet emailed your MP about pensions, please go to www.teachers.org.uk/pensions to email them now. Finally, please invite any colleagues not in the NUT to join us: http://www.teachers.org.uk/join

    Thank you for your support.'

  • All aboard the Glasgow CoR - PCS Strike Support Bus | 30 June

    Glasgow Coalition of Resistance have organised a Strike Support Bus for the day of the pensions strikes on 30th June to take people round the picket lines delivering solidarity.

  • New site listing actions in support of June 30 Pensions Strike - J30strike.org

    J30strike.org is a new site collating information about pickets and actions in support of the June 30 pensions strike.

  • 30 June: Gove urges parents into classrooms to break teachers' strike

    This is, according to the editor of BBC Radio 4's What the Papers Say (via Twitter), the front page of tomorrow's Independent on Sunday.

  • UK Uncut Big Society Breakfast: 'strike action is direct action'

    See the Facebook Event for UK Uncut's Big Society Breakfast on 30 June.

  • What do we mean by a General Strike?

    troops on streets 1926Chris Harman, in this article from 1985, summarises the history of general strikes and analyses different forms of mass working class resistance. He also outlines the factors determining when it is appropriate for socialists to raise the general strike slogan.

  • Teachers: large vote for strike shows mood to resist

    The 92% vote for strike action in the NUT isn’t just a victory for teachers - it should inspire others to take action. NUT member Nick Jones looks at the background to the vote and why it represents a mood to resist government attacks.

  • Should the left be calling for a general strike?

    I have previously been dismissive of calls for a general strike in response to the cuts. I've made passing references to the issue, but not outlined in detail why I think the call is currently misguided. 

    It is clear the issue isn't going away - chunks of the radical left in this country appear preoccuppied with raising the general strike slogan. Let's carefully think through the issue. I'll explain why I think such calls are premature.

    Start with this general principle. The validity of any tactic - and a tactic is what the general strike is - depends upon the political conditions. This encompasses a range of factors, including the mood and consciousness of the working class. It rests especially upon the strength of organisation and combativity on our side. At times a particular tactic may be viable and appropriate; at other times the same tactic may not be realistic or useful.

    The general strike slogan is almost always inappropriate. It is only valid in exceptional circumstances. Since the mid-1970s there's only been one occasion when the saner elements of the radical left have raised the slogan: in response to pit closures in October 1992.

    The political environment was such that a demonstration of 250,000 could be organised by the TUC at just days' notice. A strong case could be made for the left raising the call for a general strike - even though it was exceptionally unlikely the TUC general council would call one - because it chimed with the popular mood and was a logical next step to build on the national demonstration and the big local rallies happening across the country.

    It should therefore be clear - if this is the only time the slogan has been raised, in any credible way, in the last 35 years - that it takes a remarkable situation for the general strike call to be legitimate. Socialists who raise the slogan are effectively saying we currently live in a time far more favourable to a general strike than we've had for a very long time.

    The case for - and against

    In favour of such a case are three factors:

    1. The seriousness of what we face - a massive cuts and privatisation agenda affecting the whole working class - requires a massive response.

    2. The fact we've already had half a million people on a national demonstration.

    3. The strikes on 30 June indicate the potential for co-ordinated national strikes.

    In response to these 3 points, however, we might note:

    1. The scale of the attack sadly doesn't tell us anything about the strength and combativity of forces on our side. It's true that in the long term we need mass strikes, alongside mass demonstrations and a range of protest methods, to stop the cuts. But that doesn't mean the working class is equipped to fight a general strike now.

    2. While 26 March was huge, united and a reassertion of union power, it tells
    us more about the potential for mass protest than about the capacity for strike action. We've had over 20 years - from the anti-poll tax movement onwards - of resistance in the workplaces regrettably lagging far behind resistance on the streets.

    3. Although 30 June is a very important step forward, it is a long way from a general strike. Those who think it's a plausible transition to go from 30 June to a general strike evidently have little grasp of what a general strike actually involves.

    So, what is a general strike? It can be either one-day or indefinite. It can be a legal, bureaucratically-controlled strike or a massive grassroots rebellion which spreads, outside official structures, like wildfire. Most socialists appear to be referring - in current calls for a general strike - to a one-day, legal strike. It seems, also, that the TUC general council is expected to authorise it.

    It's not clear if they hope for all workers to strike or merely all trade unionists. There's a big difference: the majority of workers are not in unions. Let's assume they mean all trade unionists and accept it is unlikely the non-unionised will participate.

    What are the obstacles to a general strike?

    The first problem is that there isn't currently a widespread mood for a general strike. Passing resolutions in union conferences is one thing, but winning the argument with millions of union members is quite another.

    I detect little evidence that millions of working people are having conversations about the possibility of a general strike, its pros and cons, whether they personally support it. Raising a slogan which depends for its implementation on the actions of millions only makes sense when it resonates widely, not just among the established left and among some union activists.

    A second problem is the weakness of the unions. Membership has fallen in recent years. Coverage by collective agreements has suffered a marked decline. Strike levels have in recent years hit historic lows. Only 1 in 6 of private sector workers are in a union, creating a huge difficulty in spreading mass strikes from the public sector to the private sector (which has the majority of workers, but only a minority of union members).

    A third problem concerns the question 'what would the general strike actually be demanding?' The assumption appears to be that public sector pensions will be the issue. But why does anyone imagine private sector trade unionists will strike in defence of public sector pensions? Solidarity is essential in the union movement, but there are few grounds for thinking that private sector unions will be part of such action.

    If 39% of PCS members who voted in the union's ballot opposed striking to defend their own pensions, it seems unlikely that trade unionists with nothing to gain personally will strike to defend other people's pensions. It is sometimes claimed that pensions is an issue where the government is recklessly taking on the whole working class, thus threatening united resistance, but that isn't entirely true. It isn't comparable to the poll tax (over 20 years ago) or the NHS (today) as a class-wide issue. The Tories will of course relentlessly seek to divide public and private sectors against each other.

    Perhaps the general strike advocates imagine the issue will be cuts in general. But that leads on to a fourth problem: such strike action is unlikely under the anti-union laws. There is nothing to indicate union leaders are prepared to break those laws. Any legal strike action will have to be over clearly defined issues, which directly affect members of any given union, and be organised through the proper channels.

    This point leads on to the fifth problem: the power, and conservatism, of the union bureaucracies. A general strike is dependent on the most conservative body in the union movement: the TUC general council. Why does anyone think it is plausible this body will call a general strike, without the kind of mass pressure from below we are nowhere near getting?

    The sixth and final problem is political. Labour is bitterly hostile to strike action which falls a long way short of a general strike. There will be massive pressure on the unions from leading Labour politicians to dampen any resistance. Labourism remains a powerful force in the working class. The relationship between Labour and the union bureaucracy is tight.

    The Labour left is very weak, as is the left outside Labour. While socialists must put strong independent political arguments, these problems will be relevant to what the unions do in the months ahead.

    Why are some socialists raising the slogan?

    All this can make things seem gloomy. Not at all: there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful about the course of anti-cuts resistance. It's just that a general strike isn't yet on the agenda.

    Some on the left say a general strike must be realistic because five union conferences have now passed resolutions supporting one. This is rather naive. Resolution-mongering is as old as the trade union movement. It is easy for a union to pass such a motion - it doesn't require the union to do anything at all.

    Thirty union conferences could call for a general strike - it counts for very little unless it reflects a wider debate inside thousands of workplaces throughout the country. I would have been more impressed by those union conferences passing motions calling for the TUC to organise a huge national demonstration in the autumn, as that is a serious and realistic next step which will, nevertheless, only happen as a result of pressure.

    Why, then, are so many socialists calling for something implausible? Partly it is a symptom of our weakness - the slogan appeals precisely because there is relatively little strike action, 30 June notwithstanding. Trade unionists feel fairly helpless and the general strike slogan can fit that sense of their being huge challenges but a gaping chasm between them and the actual level of strike action. It is a magic bullet, a short cut.

    Calling for a general strike is easy. It means you can evade the rather thornier tactical issues we do need to address in the here and now. That's one reason it is dangerous - it means abdicating responsibility for advocating and pursuing concrete tactics to take the struggle forward.

    Chris Harman wrote in 1985:

    'The slogan of the general strike fits a certain point in the workers’ struggle. But it is wrong to raise it as a panacea before that point is reached. That merely avoids confronting the real needs of the movement.'

    Harman also noted that a general strike, in any credible sense of the term, raises political questions about confronting the state and even workers' power: 'if the slogan did fit (and it will do one day) then it would be necessary to raise alongside it slogans about rank and file control and about confrontation with the state'. It should be obvious we aren't presently in a situation where the general strike call is particularly credible, however desirable it might be.

    It is also a way for socialist groups to distinguish themselves as more radical than the broader movement or the union leaderships. It is good rhetoric. But that inflated rhetoric masks deeper weaknesses and lack of influence on events. It is feelgood stuff, but has no positive influence on the direction of any real struggles or campaigns.

    I've heard it claimed that calling for a general strike is an 'agitational slogan', i.e. it isn't supposed to be realistic but the point is to use it as a means of raising the level of strike activity. But the strike ballots in PCS, UCU, NUT and ATL were not won as a result of socialist groups agitating for a general strike. They were won on the basis of raising awareness about the seriousness and scale of the threat to pensions, linking that issue to a bigger political and economic picture, and outlining why a strike can be at least partially effective.

    It's also sometimes claimed that if they can have general strikes in Greece, France and elsewhere then we can have one here. The general strikes in Europe have been inspiring, if almost entirely limited to one-day action which has only won partial victories at best. And in principle the point is correct. But general strikes elsewhere don't directly affect the likelihood of one happening here - nor should they distract us from the more modest, but still ambitious and important, tasks we have in Britain.

    Next steps

    What is needed, instead of largely abstract and ineffectual calls for a general strike, is what I outlined in my recent article '30 June: a day for the whole movement'. We need three things: further nationally co-ordinated strikes, the participation of a wider range of unions in strike action, and a mass campaign using a range of means (including a national demonstration in the autumn) to complement strikes.

    These points are realistic, but nonetheless contested - and involve us moving well beyond where we are now. They are real, concrete issues for us to wrestle with now. They bring us into conflict with more conservative elements in the labour movement, and require conducting a dialogue with people around us (in the unions and beyond) about how to build a more effective movement.

    The last point - building a broad mass movement opposing the cuts - is especially crucial at a time when strike action is still patchy. It involves millions of people outside the public sector unions and raises a political challenge to the Tory-led coalition's savage cuts and privatisation agenda.

    Building such a movement is, among other things, a better way of creating the conditions where a general strike becomes a realistic proposition than passing resolutions at union conferences and putting ‘general strike now’ on placards.

    I recommend reading Chris Harman's 'What do we mean by the general strike?' 

  • Civil servants vote for strike over cuts to pensions, jobs and pay

    More than a quarter of a million civil and public servants today joined teachers in voting for a strike over cuts to their pensions, as well as jobs and pay, the Public and Commercial Services union announced.

  • Resounding Votes for Strike Action from NUT and ATL

    Teachers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action to defend pensions. Today's results from two teaching unions indicate widespread backing for national strike action.

  • Teaching unions vote to strike

    Teachers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action to defend pensions. Today's results from two teaching unions indicate widespread backing for national strike action.

    92% voted yes in the National Union of Teachers (NUT), with 83% voting for action in the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), traditionally regarded as a very moderate union. The turnouts were 40% in NUT and 35% in ATL.

    The government is pursuing the recommendations of the recent Hutton Report, which means teachers (and many other public sector workers) having to pay more in pension contributions, working longer, and receiving less in retirement. It effectively means a pay cut for all teachers, as well as drastically cuttting the value of pensions.

    It is now expected hundreds of thousands of NUT and ATL members will join lecturers in the UCU union for co-ordinated strike action on Thursday 30 June. The NUT's executive meets tomorrow and is expected to confirm the union's next steps. Tomorrow will also see the PCS ballot result being announced, which is expected to show a large majority voting to walk out on 30 June.

    These ballot results follow hot on the heels of Dave Prentis (UNISON General Secretary) announcing that Unison, the UK's largest public sector union, is gearing up to ballot members for strike action this autumn. The scale of the majorities today will embolden every union activist campaigning for co-ordinated action across the public sector unions.

    The UCU and PCS unions have already publicly welcomed today's results in the teaching unions. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt noted that cuts to pensions are part of a bigger project by the Tory-led government. She said:

    'While ordinary people suffer huge cuts in their standards of living, the richest 1,000 people in Britain saw their collective wealth rise by 18% last year.'

    Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “These results send a clear message to the government that public sector workers do not believe they should be made to pay with their pensions for a recession they did not cause, and we send our support and solidarity to all NUT and ATL members."

    First published on Counterfire

  • Will Unison join other public sector unions in autumn strikes?

    This is from The Guardian (see link for full article):

    'The UK's largest public sector union has warned that it is gearing up for strike action in the autumn unless ministers pull back from controversial pension changes.

    Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said huge numbers of local government workers and NHS staff are "on the road" to long-term industrial action over pension changes that would lead to public sector workers paying more into the schemes, receiving less in retirement and working longer.

    Balloting of around 1.2 million workers will start soon unless a crunch meeting with the government on 28 June leads to a deal, Prentis said, accusing the government of preventing proper negotiations over the controversial plans.

    Speaking ahead of the union's annual conference next week, Prentis signalled that members would be balloted for a sustained period of industrial unrest unless the government alters course.

    "If we are prevented from reaching agreement we will move to a ballot in the summer or early autumn," Prentis told reporters. "It will not be one day of action - it will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services to prevent destruction of our pension schemes."'

  • Strike on June 30th - College lecturers building for action

    UCU membersThe UCU Further Education conference that met in Harrogate last Saturday was exactly what was needed to boost the spirits of lecturers fighting redundancy and attacks on wages and pensions. The mood was very combative, despite some harrowing accounts of swingeing cuts reports John Westmoreland.

  • Newcastle College staff vote for rolling strike action

    Newcastle: May Day 2011
    'Members of UCU at Newcastle College will begin a rolling programme of strike action next month, in a row over jobs and pay.

    At an emergency meeting yesterday evening, UCU members voted to escalate their dispute with the college, which plans to make over 180 redundancies and to cut over 180 lecturers' pay. Dates for the action will be announced at the start of June.

    Today's news comes after UCU members went on strike in April and is the latest in a bitter dispute with the college, which announced on Wednesday that as well as cutting jobs some teaching staff will lose more than £10,000 from their annual salary.

    In contrast, Newcastle principal, Jackie Fisher, enjoyed a whopping 32% annual pay rise for 2009/2010, making her £259,772 pay packet the largest of any further education principal in the country.

    UCU today accused senior management of showing a 'disgraceful attitude' towards staff. In April UCU members were told they could no longer hold meetings on campus, with branch secretary Dave O'Toole banned from representing members at meetings between the union and senior management.

    The union believes there is no financial need to make the cuts and pointed to the fact that the college reported a £6million surplus for the last financial year and is in the process of taking over Northumberland College.

    UCU regional official, Iain Owens, said: 'Strike action is always a last resort but the branch feel there is no other option after the disgraceful attitude shown by management towards staff. As well as attacking our members' jobs and right to organise they are now cutting lecturers' pay.

    'There is no financial imperative for making these cuts. Newcastle College is in good financial health and certainly has no problem rewarding its principal. These cuts seem to be based more on spite and we will do all that we can to defend jobs, pay and students' education.''

    Via UCU website

  • UCU: 82% vote for strike to save jobs at Newcastle College

    'Members of UCU at Newcastle College have today (Tuesday) voted to strike in their fight to save jobs.

    Over four-fifths of members (82%) who voted, supported strike action and over nine in ten (91%) agreed to action short of a strike. The college has presented the union with plans for over 170 redundancies of which over three-quarters are teaching posts.

    The union has accused the college of 'jumping the gun' and using the current funding difficulties in further education as an excuse to make cuts. UCU said the plans would have a devastating effect on the local economy, which has already seen a large increase in unemployment, and make it harder for the region to recover from the recession.

    The result of today's ballot is further embarrassment for the college after it was revealed earlier this month that the principal, Jackie Fisher, enjoyed a whopping 32% annual pay rise for 2009/2010.'

    Read more HERE.

    See earlier story about the principal's pay HERE.

  • Edinburgh University students occupy in support of UCU strike | 17 March 12011

    By Graham Kirkwood - www.counterfre.org In a magnificent show of solidarity, Edinburgh University students occupied the Finance and Human Resources building today during the UCU strike. This followed successful pickets across the university where postal and other delivery workers refused to cross picket lines. Students also argued with their fellow students turning them back from lectures.
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  • Egyptian Workers Strike for Minimum Wage and Independent Unions

    A TRNN report on the strike of the Mahalla workers 100 kilometers north of Cairo

  • Time for a General Strike?

    The opening few minutes of the video below contains interesting comments on the call, coming from some on the far left, for a general strike. Alex Callincos, leading Socialist Workers Party member, has re-iterated this call in a Comment is Free article. He is responding in this paragraph to Unite leader Len McCluskey's call for co-ordinated strike action:

    'McCluskey highlights a special meeting of the TUC general council in the new year "to discuss co-ordinated industrial action and to analyse the possibilities and opportunities for a broad strike movement". That sounds good, but a lot more than discussion and analysis is needed, particularly since McCluskey disparages "general strike now" rhetoric from the "usual quarters". What other logic does "co-ordinated industrial action" imply except that of a general strike? And can the coalition be defeated unless the concentrated power of the entire organised working class is brought into play?'

    This is odd. Callinicos has a background in the same political tradition as me, and knows fine well (like I do) that a general strike is qualitatively different from co-ordinated strike action. He also knows a general strike is at present very remote from the current popular mood and level of combativity in the union movement.

    A general strike would require the entire trade union movement to participate. Furthermore, it would have to pull in millions of non-unionised workers plus students, unemployed people and so on. It would unite public and private sectors, unionised and non-unionised. It would pose a massive political challenge to the government and the state. It would involve setting up community and street-level groups to ensure provision of essential services. And so on.

    Anyway, John Rees articulates the arguments here, so I'll leave my own comments at that. This talk was the introduction to a Counterfire public meeting on 11 December. Also see James Meadway's 'What next for the student revolt?' for ideas about the relationship between current student protests and the trade unions.

  • Jayaben Desai: courageous leader of Grunwick strike

    Jayaben DesaiLindsey German looks at the life of Jayaben Desai who rose to prominence as the leader of a heroic strike by 137 mainly female Asian workers at the Grunwick film processing factory in 1976.

  • In support of Len McCluskey's call for a "broad strike movement" against cuts

    This letter is published in today's Guardian:

    Your editorial (20 December) identifies Unite's new general secretary Len McCluskey as a Bourbon who has "learnt nothing and forgotten nothing" for proposing a "broad strike movement" to oppose the cuts. Surely, though, the more obvious candidates for such a rebuke are the leaders of the coalition government.

    For it is increasingly obvious that this government is intent on repeating the cuts, privatisation and job slashing of the Thatcher years. Since the defeat of the miners, some unions have adopted precisely the course of action you urged. The result? Unions are not stronger and more influential than they were in the "bad old days".

    No wonder many trade unionists admire the determination and energy of the students in their resistance to government policy. Many trade unionists now want to unite with the students in defence of public services. And many will be applauding the election of a general secretary who wants to defend both his members' jobs and the welfare state, on which most of us depend for education, health, benefits and much more.

    Tony Benn
    John McDonnell MP
    Sally Hunt General secretary, University and College Union
    Mark Serwotka General secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union
    Jeremy Dear General secretary, National Union of Journalists
    Clare Solomon President, University of London Union
    Bob Crow General secretary, Natiional Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
    Michael Chessum Co-founder, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
    Paul Gilroy Professor in social theory, LSE
    Andrew Burgin Coalition of Resistance
    John Rees Coalition of Resistance
    Paul Mackney Former general secretary, Natfhe
    Zita Holbourne Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
    Rachel Newton People's Charter

  • John Rees on the student movement, unions and the general strike

  • Tyneside glass workers: two more weeks of strike action

    'Glass workers in Tyneside voted today for a further two weeks of strike action.

    The striking workers at Tyneside Safety Glass in Gateshead will commence another fortnight of strikes on Monday October 18, their union Unite said.

    They began their strike on Monday September 20 after the company imposed a second year of pay freezes as well as changes to shift patterns that added 10 hours to the working week in some cases.

    Unite regional officer Bill Green said: "Over the past two years our members have been intimidated and bullied.

    "The employer has openly informed our shop stewards that it intends to break the union on site. Basic pay is not that far above the national minimum wage and a further year of pay freezes will see their pay fall closer to the minimum wage."

    Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said members have been magnificent in "standing up to a bullying management and defending our union." '

    Via Morning Star

  • China Labour Strikes Gain Momentum

    From aljazeera (view original article): Despite ban, workers seeking more rights step up strikes across the country. Labour union movements seeking better wages and working conditions have stepped up strikes and protests across China at an unprecedented rate. It has been described as nothing short of a revolution. So far in this year, there had been at least 73 major co-ordinated strikes throughout the country. But the rights groups operate in secret to avoid police who often crush strikes through arrests and brutality. The government says its main concern is that if it gives workers the right to form assemblies, they may turn against authorities. Al Jazeera was given rare access to a network of workers on strike in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Steve Chao reports from Guangzhou.
  • European anti austerity protests and strikes | 29 September

    Thousands took part in strikes and protests against austerity measures on a day of action
  • General Strike in Spain September 29

    Spanish unions are building for a national general strike on 29 to protest the government’s massive austerity program, which would cut public expenditure and investment, and a labour market “reform” which makes it easier and cheaper to fire workers. Paco Dominguez, General Secretary of the Federaci√≥n de Comercio, Hosteler√≠a-Turismo y Juego-UGT (CHTJ-UGT), explains what is at stake and how the union is building support. Why should unions reject the government’s austerity program, and what concrete measures do you propose to stimulate job creation, real investment and a strong public sector? For the UGT the question is not whether reductions in government spending are necessary or not at a time of financial crisis; the issue is that the cuts, as always, take us down the path of “social adjustment”. The consequences of the crisis are especially hard for workers and the poor, which is why we maintain that now, more than ever, social policies are needed which can address the crisis in terms of social justice and alleviate the perverse effects of the economic contraction, particularly for the worst off. This is why we believe that the state, more than ever, must play an active role, essentially by adopting social and [...]
  • Unfinished business: The Dagenham strike and the battle for equal pay

    Dagenham women voteMade in Dagenham, the film about a strike by women machinists has highlighted the struggle for equal pay. But with women today earning nearly a fifth less than men the battle begun in Dagenham in 1968 is still very far from being won.

  • Mark Serwotka at TUC: strike together to save jobs and services

    On the one hand there's this approach - on the other hand there's the case articulated here by Mark Serwotka. I know which I prefer.

  • China: Strikewave 2010

    A string of suicides at the Foxconn Technology Group has graphically illustrated the class struggle in China, where a new generation of workers are becoming increasingly militant and organised.

  • Rosa Luxemburg and the politics of mass strikes

    I've just re-read Tony Cliff's little book on Rosa Luxemburg (pictured) - it's contained in Cliff's 3-volume selected writings - and was particularly impressed by the force of a couple of passages from Luxemburg quoted in the section on the mass strike. Cliff's short book, first published in 1959, is online HERE.

    'In former bourgeois revolutions where, on the one hand, the political education and leadership of the revolutionary masses was undertaken by the bourgeois parties, and, on the other hand, the revolutionary task was limited to the overthrow of the government, the short battle on the barricades was the appropriate form of revolutionary struggle.

    Today, at a time that the working class must educate, organise and lead itself in the course of the revolutionary struggle, when the revolution itself is directed not only against the established State power but also against capitalist exploitation, mass strikes appear as the natural method to mobilise the broadest proletarian layers into action, to revolutionise and organise them. Simultaneously it is a method by means of which to undermine and overthrow the established State power as well as to curb capitalist exploitation...

    In order that the working class may participate en masse in any direct political action, it must first organise itself, which above all means that it must obliterate the boundaries between factories and workshops, mines and foundries, it must overcome the split between workshops which the daily yoke of capitalism condemns it to. Therefore the mass strike is the first natural spontaneous form of every great revolutionary proletarian action.

    The more industry becomes the prevalent form of the economy, the more prominent the role of the working class, and the more developed the conflict between labour and capital, the more powerful and decisive become the mass strikes. The earlier main form of bourgeois revolutions, the battle on the barricades, the open encounter with the armed State power, is a peripheral aspect of the revolution today, only one moment in the whole process of the mass struggle of the proletariat....

    The movement does not go only in one direction, from an economic to a political struggle, but also in the opposite direction. Every important political mass action, after reaching its peak, results in a series of economic mass strikes. And this rule applies not only to the individual mass strike, but to the revolution as a whole.

    With the spread, clarification and intensification of the political struggle not only does the economic struggle not recede, but on the contrary it spreads and at the same time becomes more organised and intensified. There exists a reciprocal influence between the two struggles. Every fresh attack and victory of the political struggle has a powerful impact on the economic struggle, in that at the same time as it widens the scope for the workers to improve their conditions and strengthens their impulse to do so, it enhances their fighting spirit.

    After every soaring wave of political action, there remains a fertile sediment from which sprout a thousand economic struggles. And the reverse also applies. The workers’ constant economic struggle against capital sustains them at every pause in the political battle.

    The economic struggle constitutes, so to speak, the permanent reservoir of working class strength from which political struggles always imbibe new strength. The untiring economic fight of the proletariat leads every moment to sharp isolated conflicts here and there from which explode unforeseen political struggles on an immense scale.

    In a word, the economic struggle is the factor that advances the movement from one political focal point to another. The political struggle periodically fertilises the ground for the economic struggle. Cause and effect interchange every second.

    Thus we find that the two elements, the economic and political, do not incline to separate themselves from one another during the period of the mass strikes in Russia, not to speak of negating one another, as pedantic schemes would suggest.'

    Image: protestors in Nepal, where the issue of mass strikes has been of critical importance in recent months.
  • Nepal: The Maoist general strike and its limits

    The street demonstrations, without a revolutionary strategy behind them, are feeble attempts to resolve internal party contradictions, argues Muma Ram Khanal.

  • Nepal: The general strike and the politics of consensus

    Nepal MaoistsThe general strike called by the Maoists in Nepal continues, with tens of thousands of activists occupying the streets of Kathmandu.

  • UCU London Strike Day May 05

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  • UCU Strike Day

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  • High Court injunction blocks RMT strike action

    A High Court inunction against National Rail strike action granted yesterday has been described by RMT union as “an attack on the whole trade union movement”.

  • Video: BA Strikers - Willie Walsh is Pants

    walsh is pantsOn Sunday striking BA cabin crews and their supporters held a family day solidarity event at the strike HQ near Heathrow.

  • The BA Strike: One BA worker’s explanation

    BA picketThe BA three-day strike ends today, with claims by BA that scabbing at Heathrow enabled them to run a 60% service - a BA worker responds.

  • BA Strike: spread the action to win

    BA Cabin Crews Mass MeetingCounterfire exclusive: As Labour and Tory leaders attack the strikes we report on the plans being laid by workers to support the action, and how you can show solidarity.