Strikes and trade union history

Independent Working-Class Education: a world to win

Author: 

Max Munday

Hosted by educationalists and labour movement activists at Northern College on the last weekend of May, the IWCE's "A World To Win" was an excellent event which discussed key moments in the development of trade unionism in this country - from the Combination Acts to modern blacklisting, violent rioting in 1700s Liverpool to the GMB organising in ASDA.

The IWCE project aims to bring Marxism and working-class history back into the labour movement.

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An Eyewitness Account of Norway's General Strike Against the Nazis

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Norweigan Worker / Labor Action

We present a day-by-day diary of the greatest strike movement which has yet taken place in the Nazi-occupied countries. It was written by a man who. Escaped from Noray. We think that this diary in its simplicity gives a better picture of Europe than ever-so many elaborate articles.It should be remembered, however, that events like this are as yet the exception and that in general the class struggle has not yet taken on such acute form.

A participant's account of the Norwegian General Strike against the occupying Nazis.

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Around the world: 

The “precariat” of the 19th century

Author: 

Cathy Nugent

The Newport rising of November 1839, when a few thousand men from the south Wales valleys, many of them armed, marched in protest at working-conditions and for the right to vote, was the subject of a recent BBC documentary presented by actor Michael Sheen.

A review of Michael Sheen’s Valleys Rebellion, BBC2.

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Books on war and revolution

War and revolution has been a theme of 2014. Workers’ Liberty comrades were asked to recommend some books on that theme, all readily available, and ideal for reading over the holiday period.

The German Revolution 1918-23 by Pierre Broué

This book is the most in depth account of a pivotal period of the twentieth century I’ve ever read. It has huge lessons for us today on the united front, transitional demands and the concept of a workers government.

Paul Hampton

Regeneration by Pat Barker

War and revolution has been a theme of 2014. Workers’ Liberty comrades recommend some books on that theme, all readily available, and ideal for reading over the holiday period.

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Big politics, real lives

Author: 

Ed Mustill

It’s tempting to think of the The Village as the BBC’s anti-Downton. Set during roughly in the same time period as everyone’s favourite High Tory soap opera, the two shows were bound to draw comparisons, but they are totally different beasts.

While Downton Abbey approaches the class system of early 20th century England with a sort of Things-Were-Better-Then gentility, at times The Village has been so bleak that it has drawn inevitable criticism for being a cover for lefty, kitchen-sink agitprop.

A review of The Village, the BBC series now available as a DVD box set.

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Save the People's History Museum

Author: 

Mark Catterall

When I was a young boy, my grandfather told me a story of a bus depot, a mass picket line, and a scab bus being turned on its side by an angry crowd. Later I realised he was telling me about his highlight of the 1926 General Strike.

The Manchester People’s History Museum is one of the few institutions in Britain dedicated to telling the history of ordinary people’s lives and struggles.

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An organiser for black workers

Author: 

Michael Johnson

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

Born in Malden, in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley, McKinney’s father was a coal miner and later a teacher as was McKinney’s mother. McKinney Sr. eventually landed a job at the US Treasury through his involvement in the Republican Party, which had widespread black support in the decades after the American Civil War.

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

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Collapse and resistance: the workers' movement facing World War One

Translated extracts from Alfred Rosmer's The Workers’ Movement during the First World War which tell the story of how the French trade union federation the CGT collapsed.

In the twenty or thirty years before World War One, mass socialist and trade union movements were built across Europe, starting off very small in the 1880s and acquiring such strength by, say, 1905 that most of their activists believed that they would soon be able to overthrow capitalism.

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When we debated Vladimir Derer

The May 1979 general election, in which Labour Party leaders who had systematically turned against their working-class base since winning office in 1974 were defeated by Thatcher’s Tories, triggered rank-and-file revolt in the Labour Party.

Local Labour activists, and for a while even some trade union leaders, rallied around the slogan “Never again”. They vowed to win changes in Labour Party structure and policy which would tie future Labour governments to the mandates and interests of the labour movement.

Excerpts from an early 80's debate about the fight for Labour Party democracy.

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