the commune issue 6 out now!

The sixth issue of The Commune (July 2009) is now available

The paper is published online, but you can order a printed copy or multiple papers to sell (£1 + postage for one copy, or £4 per 5 issues) by emailing uncaptiveminds@gmail.com

Click the image to see PDF, or see articles as they are posted online below.

thecommune6

editorial – migrants are at the heart of our fightback

Adam Ford reports on the Linamar fight and the state of the car industry

Joe Thorne looks at resistance to primary school cuts in London and Glasgow

Dave Spencer argues that the left has much to learn from the local work of the Northampton Save Our Services campaign

Jack Staunton writes on call centre workers’ organising initiatives

Chris Kane counters the argument that we ought to go back to the Labour Party, and stresses that communists need to organise

Kofi Kyerewaa explains the flaws of calling for the banning of the BNP

Activists participating in the occupation to protest the SOAS immigration raid draw a balance-sheet of the struggle

The story of the victimisation and planned deportation of a Chilean woman who dared to stand up to her employer Fitness First

Alice Robson reports on the campaign against cuts in English classes in Tower Hamlets

Kieran Hunter examines the hostile media and public response to June’s strike on the London Underground

David Broder looks at reactions to the mass movement in Iran against the re-election of Ahmedinejad

Alberto Durango explains how Unite have abandoned cleaner organising

Gregor Gall looks at the victory of the Lindsey oil refinery strikers and its implications for the industry

Joe Thorne looks at resistance to primary
school cuts in London and Glasgow
Dave Spencer argues that the left has much
to learn from the local work of the Northampton
Save Our Services campaign
Jack Staunton writes on call centre workers’
organising initiatives
page 3
Chris Kane counters the argument that we
ought to go back to the Labour Party, and
stresses that communists need to organise
Kofi Kyerewaa explains the flaws of calling
for the banning of the BNP
page 4
Activists participating in the occupation to
protest the SOAS immigration raid draw a
balance-sheet of the struggle
page 5
The story of the victimisation and planned
deportation of a Chilean woman who dared
to stand up to her employer Fitness First
Alice Robson reports on the campaign
against cuts in English classes in Tower
Hamlets
page 6
Kieran Hunter examines the hostile media
and public response to June’s strike on the
London Underground
page 7
Alberto Durango explains how Unite have
abandoned cleaner organising
page 8
Gregor Gall looks at the victory of the
Lindsey oil refinery strikers and its implications
for the industry

workers fight motor meltdown

by Adam Ford

The recent reinstatement of union convenor Rob Williams by his bosses at the Linamar car parts factory is a welcome victory for the Swansea workers, as well as all those who expressed their solidarity. Amongst the celebrations, however, caution is needed. Linamar are likely preparing a counter-attack, and this is just one front in a global war on car workers’ conditions.

Linamar sacked Williams on April 28th. According to the company, there had been an “irretrievable breakdown of trust”. Continue reading “workers fight motor meltdown”

engineering construction strikes: days of defiance

by Gregor Gall, professor of industrial relations, University of Hertfordshire

It’s the dispute that just won’t go away. For the third time this year, thousands of engineering construction workers have gone on unofficial strike, fighting for the right to work. This time round the dispute escalated dramatically unlike before, with the mass sacking of some 647 strike workers by the two of contractors working for Total, the Lindsey refinery operator.

On June 11, some 1200 contractors at Lindsey walked out unofficially after a contractor gave notice of redundancies to 51 workers while another contractor on the same site was looking for 60 workers to fill vacancies. This broke the agreement that settled their earlier strike in February this year which compelled vacant work to be made available to those under threat from redundancy. The contractors and Total stated this was not the case. Continue reading “engineering construction strikes: days of defiance”

can the oil refinery strikers beat the industry?

An article by Gregor Gall on The Guardian site.

Click here to read Gregor’s analysis of January’s strike wave, which appeared in issue 3 of The Commune, and here to read his recent debate with Chris Kane on the current state of industrial struggle.

refineryworkers

These are days of defiance in the engineering construction industry. The employers won’t give in and neither will the striking workers, even though the ante has been continually upped in the last week.

Total, on behalf of its contractors, refused to engage in any talks to settle the dispute while the unofficial strike at the Lindsey oil refinery continues. Last Friday, it spurned the use of the state conciliation service, Acas. It has also robustly supported its two contractors, IREM and Jacobs, who sacked their strikers (647 in all of them) and has made no play of its other seven on-site contractors who have not sacked their 500-odd strikers. For Total, this is a game of hard hardball. Continue reading “can the oil refinery strikers beat the industry?”

reinstate the lindsey oil refinery workers!

statement by the Campaign Against Immigration Controls

Following our conference today (Saturday 20th) the Campaign Against Immigration Controls (CAIC) calls for the immediate reinstatement of the workers who were sacked by Total, Jacobs and other subcontractors at the Lindsey Oil refinery in Lincolnshire last Thursday night.

lindsey

We are calling a solidarity protest at the Total headquarters in Watford on Monday 22nd June, 4-6pm. Continue reading “reinstate the lindsey oil refinery workers!”

unite ‘united left’ no-platforms victimised activist alberto durango

by Chris Kane

There was uproar at the UNITE London ‘united left’ on Thursday night when any discussion of the Mitie workers’ dispute at Willis was blocked and the sacked UNITE cleaners rep at Schroeders, Alberto Durango, was denied the opportunity to address the meeting.

Two branch officers from the Clerkenwell and St.Pancras Branch of UNITE who have supported the sacked cleaners attended the meeting – the Secretary Monica Gort and the Organiser Chris Ford, and also some lay reps. They came with Alberto a member of the UNITE Cleaners Branch Committee. They attended expecting to secure solidarity from other UNITE activists in London in widening support for the cleaners and to back calls for Asst. General Secretary Jack Dromey to reverse his withdrawal of support for the dispute. The complete opposite occurred. Continue reading “unite ‘united left’ no-platforms victimised activist alberto durango”

mitie cleaners petition unite to support their struggle

Update on the Mitie cleaners’ fight (next demo: 1pm, Friday 12th, HBOS, 33 Old Broad Street, London EC3)

Four cleaners sacked by cleaning contractor Mitie at City insurance giant The Willis Group handed in a cross-union and community petition to the Unite union last Friday lunchtime, asking deputy General Secretary Jack Dromey to give full support to their four month old campaign for reinstatement.

The petition has attracted the support of Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who met with shop steward Edwin Pazmino earlier in the week. Union notables such as Jane Loftus (CWU vice-president) and Jerry Hicks (recent Left challenger to Unite co-president Derek Simpson) also featured, along with Unite’s London construction branch and Ford Visteon Enfield workers. Meanwhile the involvement of Latin American workers has attracted the support of a host of Latin American community organisations. Continue reading “mitie cleaners petition unite to support their struggle”

still the same old story: two swallows don’t make a summer

Gregor Gall replies to Chris Kane’s piece in issue 5 of The Commune

It’s not uncommon on the left for commentators to herald that a clutch of instances form an observable trend. Desperation, frustration, desire and hope can be dangerous things.

Writing on the Guardian’s website CommentisFree on 26 May 2009, Seumas Milne penned a piece called ‘Return of the strike’ ). Putting two and two together, it’s not hard to argue that he got five despite his caveat on France. The tone of his piece was that ‘something significant is going on’. His evidence (concerning strikes) was the two engineering construction workers’ strike (in Janunary/February and May 2009) and the Visteon occupations (at Belfast and Enfield).

And from the Commune website, Chris Kane in a piece called ‘Revive flying pickets and spread the actions’  of 24 May 2009, and using exactly the same examples argued:

“We have seen the revival of unofficial strikes during the Lindsey oil refinery dispute… We have also seen a whole string of workplace occupations, the most recent being at the Ford Visteon plants in Belfast and London.” Continue reading “still the same old story: two swallows don’t make a summer”

willis cleaners lobby transport house – friday 29th

The next action by the cleaners working at Willis Group in the City who were unfairly dismissed by cleaning contractor Mitie will take place from 1pm on Friday 29th May at the Unite union’s London HQ. The Transport House building is located on Theobalds Road near Holborn station.

During the lobby the Mitie workers handing in a petition to Unite/T&G number two Jack Dromey, demanding that the as yet unsupportive union throws its weight behind their struggle. The Mitie cleaners have been fighting for more than three months after they were sacked for protesting a move by management to force them to work full-time night shifts – yet Unite and its “Justice for Cleaners” campaign have not lifted a finger to help them. Continue reading “willis cleaners lobby transport house – friday 29th”

meet the new boss: the united auto workers’ union

by Adam Ford

What do you call a ‘union’ where the people at the top will directly profit from increasing the exploitation of their ‘membership’? Well, if Barack Obama gets his way, you can call it the United Auto Workers.

Yes, in return for a government rescue package, Chrysler executives and UAW bureaucrats have agreed a deal which will has important implications for the class struggle worldwide, and marks a new stage in the liquidation of official trade unions.

In common with the other ‘big three’ American auto companies (the others being General Motors and Ford), and indeed competitors around the world, Chrysler has suffered from dramatically lower sales in recent years. This situation has been catastrophically worsened by the recession, causing Chrysler and General Motors to seek a bridging loan from the Obama administration. Following the recommendations of the Wall Street-led Presidential Task Force, Obama has given the UAW majority control of Chrysler and a 38% stake in GM, charging it with attacking jobs, wages and benefits. Continue reading “meet the new boss: the united auto workers’ union”

willis cleaners’ demo this friday

The next of the protests organised by the sacked Mitie cleaners who had been working at Willis Group takes place this Friday, 1st May.

These migrant workers were unfairly dismissed after protesting when they were forced to work their shifts at night rather than during the day. Their campaign has been ongoing for over three months: for more details of the case and past demos see the page here, or Jake Lagnado’s article on the dispute which appeared in issue 4 of The Commune.

The workers have put up brave and sustained resistance in an inspiring struggle made all the more difficult by the Unite union bureaucrats’ refusal to help their fight.

This week’s demo is at 11:30am at the Willis building at 51 Lime Street, London EC3M (Bank/Liverpool Street). Note the change to the usual time, which is to avoid clashing with the May Day rally beginning at 1pm at Farringdon.

go forth and occupy! – editorial of the commune, part 1

The first week of April saw the leaders of world capitalism converge on London for the G20 summit, which agreed to a version of Gordon Brown’s latest plan to “save the world”. The Prime Minister boasted that a “historic” $1.1 trillion programme of investment and new regulation for international finance would mean a “new world order”.

Such efforts at state support for the financial giants and Brown’s “quantitative easing” (printing money) may indeed serve to relieve some rather constipated markets. And yet the slogan of the London summit “Stability. Growth. Jobs.” and the grandiose speeches of our rulers ring hollow to the many millions who are being put out of a job and whose services are being slashed as a result of the capitalists’ crisis in the here and now. Continue reading “go forth and occupy! – editorial of the commune, part 1”

mitie cleaners take on city of london bosses

Today was the latest in a series of demos organised by Mitie cleaners working at Willis Group in the City of London, unfairly dismissed after standing up to management attacks. Such protests take place at the Willis building on Bank’s Lime Street every Friday at 1pm (email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for info). Jake Lagnado wrote this piece for The Commune about the importance of this fight.

cleanersrecession3

The story

In mid-2007 around 25 cleaners at multinational insurance brokers the Willis Group based in the City of London began to organise under the umbrella of Unite’s Justice for Cleaners campaign, for the campaign’s main demands of the ‘living wage’ rather than the minimum wage. Continue reading “mitie cleaners take on city of london bosses”