Trade Unions

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday suspended its general strike on its fourth day, after the government agreed to meet the unions on October 4-5 to discuss an increase in the minimum wage. The call for the strike had surprised the union leaders themselves, who had not expected such a massive response. Now they are doing everything to demobilise.

Three months of strike by lecturers and teaching assistants at York University has created a deep crisis at the institution. Most classes during the winter term were not in session, and now the summer term has been shortened and course offerings heavily cut down. This is no surprise as most of the teaching at the university is done by striking members of CUPE 3903.

Workers in Britain have been under attack from the bosses and the Tory government for years. And yet many trade union leaders do not seem capable of fighting back. This is one of the reasons that unions last year experienced the biggest single drop in their membership since records began. Total union membership is now just 6.2 million workers, compared to 13.2 million in 1979.

Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, replies to sectarian slanders and points the way forward for the unions in the fight to reclaim the Labour Party, defend Jeremy Corbyn, and fight for socialist policies.

On April 28 we saw a massive general strike in Brazil, the first in over twenty years, which we reported on, but before this, in Argentina there were dramatic events during a mass trade union rally where the union leaders were booed and shouted down and had to escape the wrath of the workers, escorted by security guards - “unprecedented” for a trade union rally in Argentina. The reason for the anger was the refusal of the leaders to fix the date for a general strike. In both Brazil and Argentina the working class is on the move. Here we provide a report from our comrades in Argentina.

After Bus Éireann, a subsidiary of Ireland’s state-owned public transport operator (CIÉ) responsible for bus travel outside of Dublin, announced a swathe of attacks against workers and bus services, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) declared an all-out strike effective from midnight on 23rd March. The bus drivers have reacted to these attacks with fierce militancy. This struggle is a clear indication of the growing discontent and class anger building up across Ireland.  As cracks open up in the Fine Gael-led coalition government over everything from water charges to police corruption, it is clear that this weak and divided government can be brought down.

It is deeply ironic that those who have spent years ignoring the working class and trying to break the link between the trade unions and the Labour Party should now be taking such an intense interest in the future of Britain’s biggest union, Unite. And yet this is precisely what is happening at present, with the Blairite wing of the Labour Party going into overdrive in their attempts to kick out the incumbent, Len McCluskey, as ballots for the Unite leadership election arrive through the letterboxes of the union’s 1.4 million members.

On March 6, Spanish dockers will go on strike against a decree of the PP government which destroys the very foundations of social rights conquered with organisation and struggle, and contained in agreements and laws, such as Convention 137 of the International Labour Organisation Labour, ratified by Spain in 1973, to guarantee the regularity of employment and minimum salaries of this group of workers.

The focus of the class struggle in Britain is undoubtedly now centred on the battle inside the Labour Party between the Corbyn movement, on the one side, and the Blairites - backed by the entire Establishment - on the other. Any analysis regarding the tasks of the trade unions at this time must begin from this fact.

In response to the way globalisation affects road transport workers the T&G in the UK and Ireland is launching a pilot project to recruit non-English speaking international drivers, whose pay and conditions are inferior to both EU and UK wages and conditions.

The election of Tony Woodley, regarded as the left candidate, in the recent T&GWU Deputy General Secretary election is an important step forward in the struggle to reclaim the union for its members. Woodley has consistently supported the victimised Irish officials Mick O'Reilly and Eugene McGlone, and must now act to see them reinstated. In the near future Morris will retire and there will be an election for General Secretary. The election of another left candidate, perhaps even Woodley himself, would mark yet another step forward. The Deputy General Secretary election coming on top of the election of class fighters and socialists like Dawn Stuart to the GEC of the T&G

...

Dawn Stuart, a young Belfast City Council worker, and Marxist, has been successfully elected to the national leadership, the GEC, of the TGWU. Dawn stood on a programme of union democracy, and for a fighting campaigning union. The success of her campaign is an important breakthrough. After her victory Dawn spoke toSocialist Appeal.

Dawn Stuart is a left trade union activist working for Belfast City Council. She is currently standing for the General Executive Council of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) on a programme of union democracy. This is especially important since the bureaucratic removal of Mick O'Reilly and Eugene McGlone from their positions in the Irish region. The following is her election statement:

Irish rail drivers, members of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union, have been engaged in a battle with the rail bosses over conditions and recognition. Under pressure from all sides, and with the intervention of the Labour Court, the union has decided to suspend future strikes.

Join us