photos of the last of our forums on 1970s class struggle

Last night (Monday 8th December) we held the last of our first series of “uncaptive minds” forums. The subject of the series was the 1970s class struggle, and we held meetings on struggles such as the Grunwick strike, the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders‘ occupation and the Leeds women clothing workers’ strike as well as discussing the organising methods of the time and focussing on debates in the movement such as the issue of workers’ control.

30 people attended the last of our seven fortnightly meetings, which was on the subject matter ‘Where did it all go?’. A few photos are featured below.

Liam comments: “earlier this evening I went along to a meeting organised by The Commune at which John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn very vividly brought to life politics and class struggle in the 1970s. John mentioned an example of a factory in his area in which the management removed the phone from the union office. The shop steward walked to the phone box at the end of the street and brought 250 workers with him. He got his phone back. Jeremy described his time as an organiser for NUPE when he would walk into school kitchens and recruit all the non members into the union. Contrast this to the contemporary situation. The young workers in my local branch of Woolworths yesterday were energetically recreating the 1974 Bulgarian retail experience. It hadn’t crossed their mind to strike, occupy the shop, hold a public meeting. Stoic acceptance that they were losing their jobs and the hope that something else would turn up seemed to be their attitude.”

A new series will begin in the New Year, looking at wider aspects of capitalism and the working class today. More information to follow shortly. Continue reading “photos of the last of our forums on 1970s class struggle”

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the 1970s class struggle – where did it all go? forum, 8th december

The final meeting in our ‘uncaptive minds’ series on 1970s class struggle will be a forum on the lessons of the decade, what has changed in capitalism and where the workers’ movement has gone wrong. Drawing on the discussions at our previous six meetings, we will also look to tease out how we can apply this experience in our struggles today.

We have a panel of four speakers leading off the debate:

– John McDonnell MP

– Jeremy Corbyn MP

– Joe Marino, general secretary of the Bakers’, Foods and Allied Workers’ Union

– Steve Hedley, RMT London Underground regional secretary

There will be plenty of time for discussion and debate at the meeting, which kicks off at 6:30pm on Monday 8th December. The venue is in central London – email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com or phone 07595 245494 to find out more details.

‘uncaptive minds’ forum on the grunwick strike, 24th november

The next of our ‘uncaptive minds’ forums on class struggle in the 1970s will take place from 6:30pm on Monday 24th November.

The subject of the meeting will be the 1976-77 dispute at the Grunwick film processing labs in North West London. It was a strike mainly involving Asian women workers and which found solidarity from other trade unionists, notably posties who refused to deliver Grunwick’s mail.

We will be showing a new film about the strike, and Pete Firmin from Brent Trades Council will also be giving a talk.

The meeting will be held in central London – email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to find out the venue.

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’”

‘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.

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.