recession and the rank-and-file

Sheila Cohen explores the relation of capitalist crisis to upturns in working-class struggle

Clearly, it’s difficult in the midst of the current “double dip” recession to predict whether further key struggles will follow the Vestas and Visteon occupations, or indeed the less obviously recession-related struggles of engineering construction workers, Leeds refuse collectors and postal workers – not to mention current disputes affecting airline employees, tube workers and bus drivers. The list could go on, and indeed has spurred recent thoughts of a “mini-upsurge” – but are these struggles symptomatic of recession or simply of the general (and grim) rigours of an unrelenting neo-liberal capitalism?

It has never been straightforward, historically, to work out whether recessions spark resistance or dampen it. The arguments are obvious on both sides of the coin – capitalist crisis, with its persistent tendency to dump the effects on the working class, can spur struggle through anger and desperation (the nothing-to-lose syndrome) or suppress it through the terrible fear of job loss, a disaster for working-class families. To use a wise old footballing adage, “It could go either way” – but which way will it go? Continue reading “recession and the rank-and-file”

Advertisements

paris undocumented workers on strike: so where next?

from Où va la CGT: see here for an interview with migrant worker reps and report on the occupation of the Pompidou centre’s restaurant

A month on strike for 5,000 undocumented workers in the Paris region: a month of mobilising people, strikes, pickets in the cold and in the rain. Their determination is unfailing, even if some are starting to tire.

But there is a problem with the direction of this massive, multi-site strike. Many reps are starting to question the manner in which the CGT union federation is guiding it.

Continue reading “paris undocumented workers on strike: so where next?”

interview with migrant cleaners’ reps involved in 4,200-strong paris strike movement

The strike by migrant workers in Paris demanding regularisation has now spread to over forty workplaces, and as it heads into its fourth week it now involves some 4,200 strikers. The latest headline-catching turn in the dispute has been the occupation of part of the French capital’s Pompidou arts centre by restaurant staff.

pompidou

Libération reports that the flash sixth floor restaurant has now been occupied for over a week, with forty people staying day and night “to show that even behind the decor of chic Parisian restaurants, undocumented workers are running things behind the scenes”. Below appears an interview with Seni cleaners about the issues underlying the strike wave in the city. Continue reading “interview with migrant cleaners’ reps involved in 4,200-strong paris strike movement”

4,000 undocumented migrant workers strike and occupy in paris

by Antoine Boulangé

A new wave of strikes by undocumented migrant workers began on 12th October. The striking workers, greater in number than in April 2008, are determined to win regularisation for all. But to do that, they need solidarity from all workers.

“Colonised yesterday – exploited today  – tomorrow regularised”

oct09frstrikecgt

That is the slogan of the thousands of undocumented migrant workers who are taking part in the new strike wave, initiated by the unions (CGT, CFDT, SUD, FSU and UNSA) and  associations (Ligue des droits de l’homme, Cimade, RESF [Education Without Borders Network], Femmes Égalité, Autremonde, Droits devant!! etc.) Since 12th October the movement has not stopped growing, from 1,000 on the first day to 3,000 a week later. There has been a qualitative and quantitative leap from the strike wave of April 2008, which involved 600 workers and won 2,000 regularisations. Continue reading “4,000 undocumented migrant workers strike and occupy in paris”

a communist revival?

by Nathan Coombs

One of the remarkable things about the manifesto of the recent University of California Santa Cruz student occupation, the Communiqué from an Absent Future, was the emphatic use of the word communism to describe their project to “demand not a free university but a free society”.

santacruzwearethecrisis

This re-appropriation of the word communism marks a new direction after numerous attempts to refigure a certain spirit, while avoiding the specific content, of communism under such concepts as “the common” or “communisation” in various brands of leftwing, post-cold war political activism. Communism itself had been more or less abandoned to the dwindling base of old far-left political groups and Maoist movements. Continue reading “a communist revival?”

‘the take’: argentina’s worker-managed enterprises

Here we present Naomi Klein’s 2004 documentary The Take which looks at the actions of Argentinian workers during that country’s economic crisis earlier this decade. Hundreds of factories were occupied in resistance to mass redundancy: but further still, workers seized their workplaces restarted production under their own control.

A number of these enterprises are still going: indeed, last month the Argentinian state was forced to accept a permanent legal status for the $100m Zanón/FaSinPat (factory without bosses) ceramic tiles plant in Neuquén, which had been ‘stolen’ from its former owner by its four hundred workers. The film, reproduced in full below, features interesting interviews with the workers involved in these inspiring struggles.

Continue reading “‘the take’: argentina’s worker-managed enterprises”

the commune issue 7 – out now!

The September issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact uncaptiveminds@gmail.com.

thecommune7cover

troops out of afghanistan! – editorial of The Commune

wildcats show how to fight royal mail bosses – by Paul Haste

government pressure on civil service: crunch time for pcs left – by Steve Ryan

wind turbine occupation ends, but struggle continues – by Gerry Emmett

purnell’s new ‘old labour’ is just new ‘new labour’ – by David Broder

resisting redundancy and recession: reappraising the tactic of occupation – by Gregor Gall

amey struggle: burn your bridges, save your dignity – by Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marin

latin american migrants: organising against racism and exploitation – by an Ecuadorian migrant worker

exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses – by Chris Kane

update on the activities of the commune around britain

afghan women bear brunt of hypocritical ‘war on terror’ – by members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

yes, chris ann, obama is punking us – by Ernie Haberkern

beyond props for capital – by Allan Armstrong

liberalism, citizenship and democracy – by Mark Ellingsen

the workers’ self-management alternative – by Chris Kane

review of the july/august left press – by Nathan Coombs

building from below: the case for working in residents’ groups – by Dave Spencer

latin america’s future is being played out in honduras – by Roberto Sáenz