log in



  • 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!
    Views: 2
    0 ratings
    Time: 07:46 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 10:58 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 3
    0 ratings
    Time: 05:13 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 2
    0 ratings
    Time: 06:06 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 07:00 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 2
    0 ratings
    Time: 11:07 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 8
    0 ratings
    Time: 07:12 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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
    Views: 12
    0 ratings
    Time: 04:06 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 9
    1 ratings
    Time: 08:28 More in News & Politics

    Visit this site
  • 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.
    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 10:34 More in People & Blogs

    Visit this site
  • 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

    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 08:09 More in News & Politics
  • 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
    Views: 60
    2 ratings
    Time: 01:52 More in News & Politics
  • 30th June Pensions Strike - King's Lynn

    www.coalitionofresistance.org by William Alderson
    Views: 2
    0 ratings
    Time: 01:52 More in News & Politics
  • 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
    Views: 4
    2 ratings
    Time: 45:10 More in News & Politics
  • 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.
    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 00:16 More in News & Politics
  • 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

    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 04:10 More in News & Politics
  • UCU Strike Day

    Views: 0
    0 ratings
    Time: 06:07 More in Nonprofits & Activism
  • 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.