two announcements

Upcoming meetings

We have finalised the line-up for the last in the series of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ discussion series on the 1970s class struggle. Joe Marino (Bakers’ Union general secretary) and Steve Hedley (LUL regional secretary of the RMT) will be joined by John McDonnell MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP for a discussion on the subject “Then and now: where did it all go?”. The meeting takes place in London on Monday 8th December.

There are two meetings before that, however: the next is on the evening of Monday 10th November, a film showing and talk on the 1971-72 Upper Clydeside occupation. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more details. This will be followed by a meeting about the Grunwick dispute, taking place on 24th November.

Newspaper

The first issue of our newspaper The Commune will be published in the next ten days. It will feature extensive coverage of the economic crisis; articles about state intervention in the economy; about public sector pay; a piece by Gregor Gall on industrial democracy; Terry Liddle’s take on the life of William Morris; news from the class struggle in Iran; and other news from our movement. Email the above address to indicate your interest, and stay tuned.

To take a look at the pamphlets and leaflets we have already produced, click here.

report of justice for the shrewsbury pickets rally

by Chris Kane

Two hundred people, overwhelmingly workers,  packed out the London Welsh Centre in a rally demanding justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets, the six building workers jailed by the state in 1972. Ricky Tomlinson, the well known actor, got two years and Des Warren three years. They were the victims of a conspiracy by the Tory government, construction companies and security services. The show trial was then the longest case in British legal history.

The speakers on Monday evening were Ricky Tomlinson, an activist in the national building workers’ strike of 1972,  Terry Renshaw of UCATT – another activist who only narrowly escaped prison due to a error by the Police – and former leader of the NUM Arthur Scargill. 

Continue reading “report of justice for the shrewsbury pickets rally”

film showing 10th november: the upper clydeside occupation

The next of our ‘uncaptive minds’ discussion forums on 1970s class struggle will feature a film showing about the Upper Clydeside dispute of 1971, where workers staged a fourteen-month-long work-in as a protest against the Tories’ planned shipyard closures.

As well as showing the 1971 Cinema Action film UCS 1 and sections of their 1977 film Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde (total running length: 36 minutes), we will be discussing the lessons of this important dispute in relation to the occupation and work-in tactic, trade union bureaucracy and the role of the Communist Party in the labour movement of the day.

The meeting is being held on Monday 10th November, from 6:30pm. The venue is in central London. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to find out where it is, and to find out more information about our discussions.

If you’d like a Word file with the leaflet for the meeting, click here.

27th october meeting on 1972 building workers’ strike

In the aftermath of the 1972 building workers’ strike, police raided homes and took away men who were tried and jailed on “conspiracy” charges.

Among them were Ricky Tomlinson, now a successful actor, and Des Warren, who served his full three years and suffered from Parkinsons Disease as a result of drugs administered in prison. Des died of pneumonia on April 24, 2004, aged 66.

The “Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets” campaign is for an inquiry into the convictions, with all the official papers to be opened, and a reversal of the so-called guilt.

Chair – Mick Dooley,
Speakers – Ricky Tomlinson, Arthur Scargill, Terry Renshaw

Meeting from 7:30pm, Monday 27th October, at the Welsh Club, 157-163 Grays Inn Road, London WC1 (Russell Square/King’s Cross).

pdf of leaflet for meeting

meeting on ‘new methods of organising’

[click here to see the recommended reading for the meeting]

On Monday evening UNISON activist Anton Moctonian gave a talk at our ‘uncaptive minds’ discussion forum about new public sector union organising methods in the 1970s, with particular focus on the growth and decentralisation of NUPE and the development of its shop steward organisation.

NUPE, which organised hundreds of thousands of low-paid local government employees, is now well-known for the strikes which meant “rubbish piling up in the streets” and “unburied dead”, playing an important role the collapse of Jim Callaghan’s 1976-79 Labour government. The union experienced rapid growth in the period under discussion in our forums, with 265,000 members in 1968; 433,000 in 1973; and 712,000 by 1979. Continue reading “meeting on ‘new methods of organising’”

strategy for industrial struggle

We have published a new pamphlet ‘strategy for industrial struggle’, a reprint of a 1971 solidarity pamphlet with a new introductory essay by Chris Kane.

The solidarity pamphlet explores different forms of working-class action (strikes; occupations and sit ins; sabotage; work-to-rules and go-slows; etc.) and looks at how different tactics used relate to rank-and-file involvement and control over struggles. Similarly, Chris’s introduction examines the lessons and relevance of these ideas for today, and stresses the centrality of self-organisation, democracy, and resistance to the conservatism of the trade union bureaucracies when faced with draconian anti-union laws.

The 24-page pamphlet, the third we have produced, costs £1, or you can click here to download it: industrialstrugglepamphlet.pdf

If you would like to be posted a printed copy of the pamphlet, email us at uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com or write to The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY

new section: ‘videos’

We have added a new section to the website – videos– in order to advertise films portraying working-class struggles and other videos which may be of interest to our readers.

Currently the ‘videos’ section features links to three films relevant to our discussion series on class struggle in the 1970s, as well as the press conference held by Iranian socialist student activists on September 29th 2008; footage of the massacre of Bolivian peasants in Pando; and a debate with the Communist Party of Great Britain on the lessons of France’s May-June 1968 general strike.

‘uncaptive minds’ forum 13th october: new methods of organising

The next of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on class struggle in the 1970s takes place from 6:30pm on Monday 13th October.

Anton Moctonian will be leading off a discussion on ‘new methods of organising: a critical comparison of the unions’.

The venue is in central London: email uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com for further details.

Anton has suggested that people attending the meeting may be interested in reading this document on shop steward organisation during the era.

For a report on the meeting on the ‘upsurge 1968-74’ click here; click here for a report on the meeting on the 1970 leeds clothing workers’ strike; and click here for Andrew Fisher’s report on the meeting on workers’ control and management.

andrew fisher’s report on last night’s meeting

Andrew Fisher from the Left Economics Advisory Panel spoke at our ‘uncaptive minds’ forum on ‘The Debates on Workers’ Control’ last night, and has posted the following report on the LEAP website:

Last night, I spoke at a discussion forum organised by the Commune entitled ‘The Debates on Workers’ Control’. The debate is part of a series of discussion forums on class struggles in the 1970s.

The debate was wide-ranging, considering different models of workers’ control – from participation on boards to co-operative control under nationalisation, the role and limitations of trade unions, and the old chestnut of reformism vs. revolution. Around 20 people attended the debate.

You can download a copy of the presentation I gave, and please give any feedback in the comments section. It is a much extended version of the preface to the new LEAP pamphlet, Building the new Common Sense – social ownership for the 21st century.

You can buy Building the new common sense online for just £3 or by sending a cheque payable to ‘Another World is Possible’ to LEAP, PO Box 2378, London, E5 9QU.

changes in ‘uncaptive minds’ discussion series on the 1970s

We have made a couple of changes to the running order of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ series of discussion forums on class struggle in the 1970s.

Ian MacDonald, who had been billed to speak at the Monday 29th September meeting on the debates on workers’ control, is now unable to attend but Andrew Fisher from the Left Economics Advisory Panel, which has recently produced a pamphlet on social ownership, has kindly stepped in at short notice. He will be speaking alongside David Broder from the commune.

Furthermore, we have moved the discussion on new methods of organising: a critical comparison of the unions, with guest speaker Anton Moctonian, from October 27th to October 13th.

There will now be no meeting on October 27th, due to an unfortunate clash with a meeting in London about the Shrewsbury Six, who were jailed for their role in the 1972 building workers’ strike. Since this strike was of great importance and is of course of direct relevance to the subject of our discussion series on 1970s class struggle, we thought it best (and in the spirit of non-sectarianism) to defer. Therefore we would urge our readers and supporters to attend this meeting. It takes place at the Welsh Club, 157-163 Grays Inn Road, WC1 London, from 7:30pm on Monday October 27th. The confirmed speakers are Ricky Tomlinson and Terry Renshaw; Arthur Scargill has also been invited.

‘uncaptive minds’ forum on workers’ control, 29th september

Our series of ‘uncaptive minds’ forums on class struggle in the 1970s continues with a meeting at 6:30pm on Monday 29th September.

The subject of the meeting will be the debates on workers’ control. Guest speaker Ian MacDonald and David Broder from the commune will be leading off a discussion on the idea of “workers’ control” of privately-owned and nationalised workplaces raised in the workers’ movement internationally in the 1970s. The issue of workers’ control and how to implement it was widely debated among trade unionists at the time, not least by partisans of workers’ self-management, a project which found particular resonance in Portugal during that country’s revolution.

The venue is in central London – contact uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com or 07595 245494 for details.

For Chris Ford’s report on the last meeting on the 1970 Leeds clothing workers’ strike click here, or here for a report on the first meeting, which was on the subject of the 1968-74 upsurge in class struggle.

last night’s meeting on the 1970 leeds clothing workers’ strike

by Chris Ford

Twenty-seven people attended the Uncaptive Minds forum last night for the exclusive showing of Leeds-United!, the 1974 Play for Today BBC film made by Roy Battersby, dramatising the story of the 20,000-strong Leeds clothing workers’ strike of 1970.  The vast majority of the audience were trade unionists, with members of RMT, UNISON, UCU, UNITE, CWU, NUJ and PCS present. Continue reading “last night’s meeting on the 1970 leeds clothing workers’ strike”

mcdonnell to speak at uncaptive minds forum

john mcdonnell mp has confirmed that he will be speaking at the last of our uncaptive minds forums on class struggle in the 1970s.

the subject of the meeting, which will take place from 6:30pm on monday 8th december, is ‘where did it all go?’ john will be speaking alongside joe marino, general secretary of the bakers’ union, and steve hedley, lul regional secretary of the rmt.

for details of other meetings in the series see ‘events‘. email uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com for more information.

last night’s meeting on the upsurge 1968-74

last night (monday 1st september) we held the first session in the ‘uncaptive minds’ educational series on class struggle in the 1970s. 23 people attended.

after a showing of arise ye workers, a film on the 1972 struggle against anti-union laws and the fight to free the pentonville five (which you can download here), the meeting was addressed by former vauxhall car worker george shaw and sheila cohen, author of ramparts of resistance. Continue reading “last night’s meeting on the upsurge 1968-74”