Why the Left shoud rejoice that the champagne is flowing again

champagne proletarienChampagne has been flowing again in copious quantities in London and New York as bankers enjoy a return to the good old days of runaway millionaire bonuses on the back of one-way bets. But that flow of lovely bubbly has been under threat by a strike by employees of Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Krug, Ruinart and Mercier over a share of profits.

These past three weeks have seen stoppages at factories in Reims and Epernay that have cut production by 40%, according to the CGT union. The strike involved downing tools for one hour per day, spread over stoppages in blocks of twenty minutes. Continue reading

Strike ballots and unintended consequencies

BorisJohnson’s at it again. Rather than sit down and have meaningful dialogue with workers’ representatives on the London Underground, he’s been carping about a “lack of mandate” because the RMT’s successful strike ballot came off the back of a 40% turnout. Instead, Johnson believes every ballot for industrial action should meet a 50% threshold to qualify as lawful. Ever keen to mimic the buffoon and curry favour with the wilting Tory grassroots, Dave has intimated that he’d like to see the Underground classed as an essential service, an imposition of a minimum service agreement during stoppages and, of course, a turnout threshold. For both men, it’s about an instinctive hatred of a group of working people who have a record of winning disputes.  Continue reading

The battle to keep ticket offices open on the London Underground

In the next two weeks, members of rail unions RMT and the TSSA are planning two 48-hour strikes, from noon on 4 February and again from 11 February. This video sets out the background: the threats to London Underground ticket offices and staff, and, in the longer run, a fully automated underground system including driverless trains, no-one on the stations to help passengers or to deal with emergencies, and a stripped down flexible workforce on zero hours contracts with no holiday or sick pay.

Video by ReelNews

Four decades on, the cover up of the persecution of the Shrewsbury 24 continues

Shrewsbury 24Tomorrow , the House of Commons is to debate a motion on the release of papers relating to the bulding strike of 1972 and the prosecution of the Shrewsbury 24.  Dave Anderson MP, who will lead the debate, explains the background.

Those involved in the Shrewsbury 24 campaign have, for over four decades, tried to get justice for a group of building workers who were disgracefully treated after they took part in picketing during the national building workers strike of 1972. This was a momentous year for successful industrial action with both miners and dockers securing seriously better terms and conditions for themselves. When the building workers secured a 20% pay rise, the employers and the government were seriously rattled and they decided to use the full force of the state to roll back the activities of trade unions and minor political parties. Continue reading

Political Scandal and Indifference

police at orgreaveLet’s look at what you would’ve won. No more privatisations. No market fundamentalism. An extension of trade union rights. A thriving mining industry using the most advanced technology in the world. A joined up approach to finance and industry. A strong labour movement. Communities proud of their history. All under three successive Labour governments, dating from 1987 to 2001. It was a time that saw the 1945 settlement strengthened and deepened. Social democracy renewed was the common sense of the age, so much so that they wrote it into the European Union’s constitution. Britain, by no means a perfect society, was nevertheless more at peace, more at ease. It had earned itself a respite from ugly industrial strife and the attempts to dismantle British industry by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives. Continue reading