The latest of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on class struggle in the 1970s was held last night (Monday 10th November), featuring discussion of the 1971-72 work-in at the Upper Clydeside shipyards, occupied by the workforce in response to the mass redundancies threatened by the Tory government.
Chris Kane gave a talk outlining the dispute, with particular reference to the contradictory role of the Communist Party both in mobilising via its shop-stewards and in terms of keeping the struggle ‘respectable’ and wedded to the conservatism of the TUC leadership and Labour Party. Rather than attempting to spread the struggle and build solidarity with other workers and other shipyards, the leaders of the strike hoped to win over public opinion through continuing to work in a ‘disciplined’ fashion while the yards were occupied. Chris said this was in many ways parallel to the feeble Communist strategy in the west of Scotland during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
The discussion amongst participants in the meeting raised several points relevant to today’s struggles, including rank-and-file control of disputes; the value of the occupation tactic and need to pose the question of ownership; and the need to find solidarity from other workers, particularly in an age of global capital where production can easily be moved around the world.
We also watched two films about the struggle, both produced by the activist film team of Cinema Action. They are available to watch online, but only in educational establishments and libraries. For the 1971 film UCS 1 click here, and for clips of the 1977 film Class struggle: film from the Clyde click here.
The next forum will take place on Monday 24th November, a film showing and discussion on the Grunwick strike, with Pete Firmin from Brent Trades Council. The venue is in central London: email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.