Archive for the ‘Workers’ strikes’ Category

Today, March 8, is International Working Women’s Day – or what feminists have hijacked into the classless International Women’s Day.  Last month also marked the 100th anniversary of the February 1917 revolution in the Russian Empire, a revolution sparked off by working class women. 

Working class women sparked off the Russian Revolution

by Anne McShane

The centenary of International Working Women’s Day in Petrograd (St Petersburg) in February 1917 is an important moment to take a more critical approach to this history.

Most of us on the left are familiar with the events themselves. In his classic work, The Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky provides us with a dramatic and inspiring depiction of the uprising in Petrograd – he describes in detail the five glorious days of struggle. How the Petrograd working class rose up in grim determination against the tsarist state. How the strikes, which began on International Working Women’s Day, ostensibly in protest against the war, developed rapidly into a mass movement with the power to oust the imperial regime. How it advanced on the citadels of power, precipitating mutiny after mutiny among the armed forces, as soldiers and Cossacks refused to massacre the workers. In less than a week the centuries-long rule of the tsarist autocracy was routed by the Petrograd working class.

However, it must be admitted that the revolution was premature. There was no party leadership in place and the left, including the Bolsheviks, was caught unawares. The uprising was also confined almost entirely to Petrograd. It has often been described as a purely spontaneous movement – an angry working class letting off steam against the war, conscription and prohibition. But, as Trotsky makes very clear, to argue that the working class of Petrograd were just acting instinctively or in an unconscious way is absurd. Those (often in academic circles) who want to portray it as such are anxious to deny the depth of revolutionary ideas among workers, or their ability to analyse, decide and act on their own behalf. They want to separate off this movement from October and argue that the provisional government and ‘bourgeois democracy’ was the natural conclusion of February. The October revolution is presented as a putsch in contrast to the spontaneity of February. It is more concerning that some on the left also distinguish the two revolutions in the same way. As always, however, reality is a lot more (more…)

s-l1000The following review of the book REBEL WOMEN in Australian working class history, eds Sandra Bloodworth and Tom O’Lincoln, appeared in issue #14 (Xmas 2000-March 2001) of the Christchurch-based magazine revolution, one of the predecessors of this blog.

by Linda Kearns

Women’s oppression, its relation to capitalism, and how to fight it have been matters of controversy both on the far left and between the far left and feminists.

Feminists have long criticised the far left for trying to subsume women’s oppression into class.  But a cursory glance at feminist studies and recent feminist theory tends to indicate that the vast majority of women – working class women – receive short shrift from the ‘sisterhood’.

In fact, there has also been a certain amount of nicking going on, as feminist historians have joined the fad for disaggregating the working class.  So where working class women are dealt with, it is gender rather than class which have been of interest.  Moreover, gender has been seen as counterposed to, even oppressed by, men of the working class.

Even socialist women, women who consciously chose to identify as, and fight as, socialist women – and not as feminists – have been appropriated – or expropriated by feminists: Rosa Luxemburg and Alexandra Kollontai are two Marxists who spring to mind as victims of this fad.

Sandra Bloodworth notes, for instance, the way the (more…)

Fight the boss, not other workers

But only if the masses choose to use that potential power. . .

But only if the masses choose to use that potential power. . .

One of our biggest concerns at Redline is that, while workers’ rights, living standards and general conditions of life have been made worse over the past 30 years, workers’ resistance has declined to negligible levels.  Moreover, the rare tussle that does take place is a defensive one.  Workers in this country, with the possible exception of the early days of Unite union when it was organising new workplaces and fighting to get contracts for new union members, haven’t been going on the offensive for several decades now.

imagesSometimes it seems that two generations of workers got defeated – through the 1980s and 1990s – and the next generation therefore hasn’t had a fighting spirit and class consciousness passed on to it nor developed these through its own experiences.

But if workers here have forgotten or, in the case of the new generation, not yet learned what resistance is let alone what going on the offensive is, there is no shortage of examples of powerful workers’ upsurges and of workers’ workers_power_lets_organize_against_capitalismresistance pointing to, or at least offering a glimpse of the potential for, alternative ways of organising economic, social and political life.

The really big stuff: dress rehearsals for workers’ emancipation
France, May-June 1968: the glimmer of revolution
Forms of popular power in Chile, 1970-1973
The grandeur of workers’ revolution: Portugal, 1974

History’s biggest general strike (2013)
History’s biggest strike: Indian workers show us how

Recent Workplace Occupations (and one from 1989)
Workers occupy Paris Bakery, Moore St, Dublin
When workers occupied – the Cockatoo Island occupation of 1989

Portugal 1974

Portugal 1974

Factory takeover in Argentina sees discussions on workers power, women’s liberation
Greek lessons: workers occupy factory, continue production
Video on the Vio.me struggle
Greek factory: “the machines of self-management have been turned on”
Workers’ self-management only solution: interview with spokesperson for the Vio.me occupation

Resisting austerity and taking on the state in Ireland
Working class resists water tax in south of Ireland

Working class community organising against Class A drug pushers
Standing up for ourselves: a brief history of the IWCA’s campaign against Class A drug dealers in Blackbird Leys

What about New Zealand?
When workers had class
Which way forward for workers and unions?

Further reading:
Whatever happened to workers’ resistance?

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series on militant and revolutionary women

glasgow-rent-strike

Working class women played key role in 1915 Glasgow rent strike

by Marianne Kemp

With the partial commodification of state housing – mainly through the imposition of market rents – and the growth of precarious and low-paid work, along with b are existence-level benefits, state house tenants face very hard circumstances.  In the early 1990s Auckland state housing tenants, with the assistance of the Communist Party, formed the State House Action Committee and fought back through rent strikes and occupations.  Both SHAC and the CPNZ  are long gone and, although there have been tenant protests since, there has been no significant tenant movement to carry on the work of SHAC.  It would certainly be a contribution to the struggle if someone produced a reflective history of SHAC – ie an account of its strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures and the lessons for the future.

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Working class women and men organised physical defence against the lackeys of the landlords

It can also be helpful to learn about and reflect on previous struggles by working class tenants in both private and state sector rental housing.  There are some important differences between state-owned and privately-owned housing – for instance, it’s a lot easier to put more pressure on a few private landlords than on the state with all its power but, on the other hand, the state has a lot more tenants who can be mobilised against it.  However the changes in state housing, in particular the imposition of commodification via market rents, means there are now increasingly significant similarities between these two forms of rental housing.  This means state housing tenants today can draw inspiration and lessons from earlier struggles against private landlords as well as against the capitalist state as landlord.

One of the most dramatic and significant struggles by working class tenants, certainly in the English-speaking world, took place in (more…)

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Photo: Tom Lee/Fairfax NZ

by Phil Duncan

Tomorrow (Thursday) bus passengers in Hamilton, riding Pavlovich Coachlines, will be travelling for free.  Pavlovich currently operates the Orbiter and Huntly Connector lines as well as some school routes.  The free rides come courtesy not of the company, but of thirty bus drivers who are taking industrial action against the employer not by withdrawing their labour but by simply not collecting any fares.

The drivers are members of FIRST Union.  They have become frustrated with the company’s intransigence in relation to the drivers’ current pay claim and efforts to achieve secure conditions.  FIRST organiser Tony Stevens says, “Pavlovich has given up on good faith. He won’t put through back pay for our members, he wants to add in 90-day trials, and he wants the drivers to agree to conditions that’ll disadvantage future union members.”  He has also noted that the company won’t offer “any meaningful (more…)

2_bogdan-droma_demo-poster-1-e1461153470426Bogdan Droma worked in Berlin for three months, between August and October 2014, building the famous Mall of Berlin. As a result of weeks of work going unpaid, as well as of various forms of abusive treatment, he protested together with other workers between November 2014 and February 2015 on an almost daily basis, turning the popular designation of the mall into the Mall of Shame. The case of the Mall of Berlin workers is not an isolated one.

This interview was conducted by Laura Avram and published in Romanian in Gazeta de Arta Politica (GAP) #12 December 2015. The special issue “In the Name of the Periphery. Decolonial theory and intervention in the Romanian context” was coordinated by Veda Popovici and Ovidiu Pop. It was translated by Raluca Parvu for LeftEast.  

Hello Bodgan. Could you start by telling us how you ended up working in Germany?

02-roman

Bogdan Droma

I left for Germany from England, to work at the construction of the Mall of Berlin. We were assured that we will work with a work contract and will be provided with accommodation, but not everything we were promised materialised: we only got work. We were not given a contract to sign, nor decent accommodation. At the beginning we even had to sleep in the street, and the accommodation they found us subsequently was exceedingly expensive. Initially, we were being promised week after week that we will be given a work contract to sign, but then a million excuses were found for not doing it: the accountant is not here, the lady in charge of the contracts is not available, etc. They found (more…)