serwotka sellout sets seal on olympic exploitation

By Adam Ford

As women footballers were getting ready to unofficially kick off the London Olympics, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union general secretary was preparing to bow to ruling class pressure, and call off a strike of workers in the Border Agency, Criminal Records Bureau, and the Identity and Passport Service. In doing so, darling of the fake left Mark Serwotka was setting the seal on years of collaboration between union officialdom and the London Olympics authorities.

Brendan Barber (TUC), Sebastian Coe (Olympics) and Ed Sweeney (ACAS)

Tomorrow’s aborted strike was originally called as part of a dispute over 8,500 Home Office jobs the PCS say are at risk as a result of government cuts. Had the walkout gone ahead, it would have caused some disruption to last minute Olympics preparations, particularly with spectators, athletes and others in their entourages still arriving in the country.

Serwotka faced a storm of pressure from the right wing abuse over the strike, with the usual papers seizing on the opportunity to bash the supposed “arrogance” of workers choosing to withdraw their labour at a time when it might have most impact. As could be anticipated, the media ‘debate’ weighed heavily on the ‘national pride’ side of the Olympics, and against working class consciousness. Continue reading “serwotka sellout sets seal on olympic exploitation”

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spanish miners strike back against austerity

By Adam Ford

Two sets of miners have now been occupying their workplace for a month

Spanish miners are now a month into action against the Popular Party government, and behind them the international banking aristocracy, as they demonstrate against 60% cuts in subsidies, which are expected to result in the loss of 40,000 jobs. Continue reading “spanish miners strike back against austerity”

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?”

“our time is coming again”

Sheila Cohen reviews New Trade Union Activism: Class Consciousness or Social Identity? Sian Moore, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.


Yet another pricey, “academic” book – but one with an interesting message. In New Trade Union Activism Sian Moore, who teaches trade unionists at London Metropolitan University’s Working Lives Research Institute, examines the increasing – and, to some of us, questionable – phenomenon of new forms of worker representation. By contrast to the staunch shop steward of the past, who simply took on whatever problems the daily toll of workplace exploitation threw up, the last ten years or so have seen the growth of specific “reps” for apparently every conceivable contingency – learning reps, equality reps, environmental reps, etc., etc. Continue reading ““our time is coming again””

third global commune report, trade unions – are they fit for purpose?

It was generally agreed by participants that the third Global Commune event, jointly hosted by the Republican Communist Network (RCN) and the commune, on Saturday, January 29th, was a very worthwhile day. Writes Allan Armstrong.

A union official addresses London dockers, 1947.

Once again, the event was held in the ‘Out of the Blue’ Centre in Leith (Edinburgh) and involved, as well as the organising groups, members of the Independent Workers Union (IWU) in Ireland, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Permanent Revolution, the Autonomous Centre in Edinburgh (ACE), current and ex-members of the SSP, and the Anarchist Federation. Continue reading “third global commune report, trade unions – are they fit for purpose?”

trade unions – fit for purpose? edinburgh global commune, 29th january

In both the UK and Ireland today, the overwhelming majority of trade union leaders have signed up to social partnerships. These effectively reduce unions to a free personnel management service for the employers. However, the traditional Broad Left response of electing alternative leaders has shown itself unable to counter social partnerships. Indeed many current union leaders, who now accept social partnership, were themselves earlier Broad Left members.

The third Global Commune event, jointly sponsored by the Republican Communist Network and The Commune, asks the question – “Trade unions – Are they fit for purpose?” A number of different approaches to organising workers will be discussed in workshops over the day. All welcome: registration 10.30 for 11.00-16.30 meeting, at the Out of the Blue Centre, Dalmeny Street, Leith, Edinburgh. Continue reading “trade unions – fit for purpose? edinburgh global commune, 29th january”

a coalition of cuts, a coalition of resistance

Gregor Gall, professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Hertfordshire, explores the difficulties of forming alliances and coalitions to fight the cuts.

In previous articles for The Commune, I laid out the arguments for, and problems and challenges contained therein, in constructing civil alliances between the providers (via unions) and users of the services in order to oppose cuts in and privatisation of public services. Continue reading “a coalition of cuts, a coalition of resistance”