16th february forum: the storm in the world economy

The last winter has seen the biggest breakdown in the world financial system since the Great Depression, and the opening-up of what promises to be a deep and prolonged recession.

Banks have collapsed. Household names from Woolworths to Wedgwood have gone to the wall. The ideological dominance of the free-marketers and neoliberals has been swept away.

And yet few are challenging the real cause of the crisis – capitalism itself. The broadsheets write acres about Karl Marx, but in most Western countries the workers’ movement is not even fit to take a punch at the ruling class.

We will be discussing the composition of the global working class today, its relation
to the economic crisis and the prospects of uprooting this system. Speakers:

Kim Moody (leading figure in the American rank-and-file trade union publication
Labor Notes)

Andrew Fisher (Left Economics Advisory Panel)

7pm, Monday 16th February, Lucas Arms, nr. King’s Cross, London

monday night’s forum on ‘resisting the recession’


On Monday night we held the first in our new series of ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on ‘capitalism and the working class today’. The subject of the meeting was ‘resisting the recession’, and 26 people turned out to take part in a discussion on labour movement strategy led off by Christine Hulme (PCS), Chris Ford (The Commune), Steve Hedley (RMT London Transport regional organiser) and Gregor Gall (Professor of Industrial Relations, Hertfordshire Uni). This theme tied in somewhat with the new second issue of The Commune, particularly in that both Christine and Gregor had articles featured.

The next reading group is on Monday February 9th, whereas the next ‘uncaptive minds’ forum is on 16th. The title is ‘the storm in the world economy’, with Kim Moody (US activist involved in rank-and-file publication Labor Notes) and Andrew Fisher (Left Economics Advisory Panel) leading off discussion on the composition of the global working class today and its connexion to the current crisis of capital. Click here for leaflet about February’s meetings.

If you were there, do feel free to post your comments and thoughts.

forum on ‘resisting the recession’, london, january 26th

The first meeting in our new series of ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on “capitalism and the working class today” will be on the subject of “resisting the recession”, discussing the tactics the workers’ movement needs to use to oppose mass redundancies and hold back the rising cost of living.

It will take place from 7pm on Monday January 26th at the Lucas Arms, Grays’ Inn Road, near King’s Cross, London. Speakers include Steve Hedley (RMT London Transport Regional organiser), Christine Hulme (PCS activist in the Department for Work and Pensions), Chris Ford (The Commune; LRC National Committee) and Gregor Gall (Professor of Industrial Relations, Hertfordshire University).

In further meetings in the series we shall be looking at issues such as the financial climate, globalisation and imperialism, casualisation and the changed shape of the workforce.

Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info. See map of venue below.

changes to line-up for monday’s forum

PCS activist Christine Hulme has been added to the platform for Monday‘s ‘uncaptive minds’ forum on the 1970s class struggle. She will be leading off the discussion alongside John McDonnell MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and RMT activist Steve Hedley.

Unfortunately, Joe Marino will now be unable to attend, for health reasons.

The meeting begins 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.

films shown at last night’s meeting on the ucs occupation

The latest of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on class struggle in the 1970s was held last night (Monday 10th November), featuring discussion of the 1971-72 work-in at the Upper Clydeside shipyards, occupied by the workforce in response to the mass redundancies threatened by the Tory government.

Chris Kane gave a talk outlining the dispute, with particular reference to the contradictory role of the Communist Party both in mobilising via its shop-stewards and in terms of keeping the struggle ‘respectable’ and wedded to the conservatism of the TUC leadership and Labour Party. Rather than attempting to spread the struggle and build solidarity with other workers and other shipyards, the leaders of the strike hoped to win over public opinion through continuing to work in a ‘disciplined’ fashion while the yards were occupied. Chris said this was in many ways parallel to the feeble Communist strategy in the west of Scotland during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

The discussion amongst participants in the meeting raised several points relevant to today’s struggles, including rank-and-file control of disputes; the value of the occupation tactic and need to pose the question of ownership; and the need to find solidarity from other workers, particularly in an age of global capital where production can easily be moved around the world.

We also watched two films about the struggle, both produced by the activist film team of Cinema Action. They are available to watch online, but only in educational establishments and libraries. For the 1971 film UCS 1 click here, and for clips of the 1977 film Class struggle: film from the Clyde click here.

The next forum will take place on Monday 24th November, a film showing and discussion on the Grunwick strike, with Pete Firmin from Brent Trades Council. The venue is in central London: email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info.

‘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.

last night’s meeting on the 1970 leeds clothing workers’ strike

by Chris Ford

Twenty-seven people attended the Uncaptive Minds forum last night for the exclusive showing of Leeds-United!, the 1974 Play for Today BBC film made by Roy Battersby, dramatising the story of the 20,000-strong Leeds clothing workers’ strike of 1970.  The vast majority of the audience were trade unionists, with members of RMT, UNISON, UCU, UNITE, CWU, NUJ and PCS present. Continue reading “last night’s meeting on the 1970 leeds clothing workers’ strike”