how to support ongoing struggles: strikers, migrants, tenants

a workshop at From meltdown to upheaval, LARC, 62 Fieldgate St on 11th September

In this workshop we want to discuss how we can organise effective support for ongoing struggles.

Solidarity actions are rare in Britain, but a number of support groups exist for particular groups of workers and service users.

These initiatives can be worthwhile but may also risk ‘substituting’ themselves for those they are meant to be supporting, or even serve merely as fronts for the interests of this or that left group or trade union’s particular interests. With the Cleaners’ Defence Committee acting in solidarity with migrant workers in the City of London, we have often confronted the issues of representation, how best to empower workers and how to relate to the media and institutional left.

Moreover, we want to discuss how the relationship of support groups to workers’ actions is mediated by trade union officials with privileged contacts and access to information, and how such struggles can relate to other groups of workers, for instance how the Visteon occupation could have won meaningful solidarity from other Ford employees.

We will be discussing the questions:

– To what extent should experienced activists seek to give their ‘political direction’ to struggles involving others?

– What means of practical support are useful to ‘vulnerable workers’?

– What is the importance of ongoing activist support for workers, even when not involved in struggles, as opposed to just selling papers on a picket line?

– How do we avoid left groups swamping or taking control of struggles for their own particular interests?

– What are base groups? What role could these play in supporting workplace struggles?

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