why the phony war?

London based college worker Siobhan Breathnach writes about the top down nature of the UK public sector pensions dispute

We got notice of the 10th of May strike on a Friday afternoon ten days before, in the middle of an emergency meeting about redundancies. The first response was “They have got to be fucking kidding.” There was a general expression of dismay and disbelief. So what is the problem? Why weren’t we pleased about being called out? Continue reading “why the phony war?”

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why such scope for union-busting in schools?

by Florence Mensah

There are a number of reasons why I have found it difficult to write about union-busting politics in my workplace. (i) I have been working too hard to consider that I might take time to reflect on it all. (ii) I, like many other workers, am intimidated by the threat of losing my job. (iii) It is sometimes hard to know what good will come from having a great big moan, and it can make you feel even worse!

However, I was encouraged to write about what has been going on in my school by a fellow comrade. Why? Because we are a community of workers, whatever our jobs, whatever our unions. Unless we can problematize the very insidious tactics that managements put in place daily to undermine our agency and threaten our security and mental well-being, we will not be confident in recognising how best to tackle them. Continue reading “why such scope for union-busting in schools?”

from london to glasgow: primary schools occupied against cuts

by Joe Thorne

Parents faced down four vans of riot cops in Lewisham on Wednesday 24 June, to retain occupation of the Lewisham Bridge Primary School roof.  Two days later, parents re-occupied Wyndford Primary School in Glasgow; and the next day formed a picket line, refusing to allow council officials to move equipment from the school.

The direct action is a response to school closures which have placed children’s education under threat, promising large class sizes, and longer journeys to school, as well as disruption in the short term.  In the case of Lewisham Bridge, the council plans to transfer the pupils to a school under control of a private foundation, removing elected parent governors. Continue reading “from london to glasgow: primary schools occupied against cuts”

the people’s charter: a charter for change? – updated

In recent weeks and months a “People’s Charter” has been elaborated by a commission involving a number of leaders of the trade unions and the left, notably the leadership of the RMT railworkers’ union but also John McDonnell MP, leading officials in other broadly radical trade unions such as the FBU and NUT, and prominent members of Respect and the Communist Party of Britain. This “charter for change” has not yet been finalised, but it appears that its text will be decided upon and then launched at a rally, rather than openly and democratically discussed across wider layers of our movement. We disapprove of the manner in which this project has been carried out, and do not think much of the current raft of “programmes for government action” issued by left groups which say little about what action we ourselves must take and what movement we need to do it.

However, we publish this draft of the document (see below) in the hope that it will provoke discussion and allow dissenting voices in the labour movement like our own to be heard: as always, feel free to post comments and replies. A more thoroughgoing analysis and critique appears in the second issue of The Commune. Continue reading “the people’s charter: a charter for change? – updated”

pcs leadership calls off action over pay

by Steve Ryan, Wrexham PCS

As predicted in the commune the “Left” PCS union has now called off its planned industrial action over pay.

Whilst details are sketchy it seems that the NEC is claiming victory even though they appear not to have achieved any of their aims, most significantly an above-inflation pay rise for all and the de-coupling of progression costs from pay.

Any gains seem to have come from “recyclables”, which, ironically, predominantly stem from job cuts and office closures!

This is a real setback. PCS had a major opportunity to take on the government over the economy and force real concessions at this time of crisis. And it comes hard and fast after the failure of the “Left” NUT to call action. Members were again led to the top of the hill and then left there. This could, and will, be seen as a defeat if not capitulation by what is purportedly one of the most left wing unions. It will send signals to reactionary and conservative forces – but mostly to workers that gains cannot be won.

The answer in PCS is to begin the ardous task of building a rank and file to challenge the leadership and hold them to account – or by-pass them! This in turn should reach out across all unions to build a strong bottom-up organisation that is not just an electoral machine but is genuinely based on fighting for the interests of workers everywhere. There should be total opposition to all job losses, closures and pay freezes, make the bosses pay. Where possible threatened factories, offices etc. should be occupied under workers’ self-management.