a workshop at From meltdown to upheaval, LARC, 62 Fieldgate St on 11th September
The last two years have seen a small-scale upturn in labour militancy in Britain, with some groups of workers taking action in defence of their jobs rather than passively accepting the fallout of the crisis. In some cases we have even seen the re-emergence of tactics such asfactory occupations and wildcat strikes.
However, while many of us have been cheered by these workers’ confidence in standing up for themselves, we also need to debate the successes and failures of these struggles in order to be able to learn general lessons from them. This requires discussion of the reasons why workers take action, how they organise their struggles and the value of demands on the state and management.
For instance, whereas the kidnappings of bosses in France have provoked media focus, some such actions may merely be protectionist and limited to individual workplaces, or even pit one group of workers’ interests against others: for example, feuding between German and British trade unions over where General Motors should cut jobs.
We would like to produce a pamphlet as a result of these discussions in order to inform future struggles with the experience of those that went before.
We will be discussing the questions:
– What kind of workplaces have seen struggles, and why?
– What power do workers due to be made redundant have? What tactics are appropriate as a result?
– Can demands for redundancy compensation be generalised? What do workers see as the purpose of their struggle?
– How have struggles come about? In what ways were the workers involved previously organised/politicised? What useful role have unions, left groups etc. played?
– Have struggles against redundancies achieved anything?
– What power/organisation is left behind after the struggle?