Trade union issues

Issues for workers and our trade unions - opposing victimisation, fighting for better pay and conditions, health & safety, rank-and-file organising, and more.

Survey: education, diary of a tubeworker & labour news

Student debt explodes: HE, FE (Rosie Woods, Ed Whitby)
Out Proud and Organising (Rosie Woods)
Diary of a tubeworker: Phew, what a sell out!
Troops used against firefighters dispute (Chris Jones)

The Monthly Survey, Sept 1995

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Ritzy cinema workers' strike hots up

Ritzy cinema workers struck again on 20 July to demand a living wage. This time, the bosses tried to keep the cinema running.

On 20 July workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton were on strike again as part of their Living Wage campaign. The strike had been timed to disrupt a live screening of the new Monty Python musical, the kind of screening that normally draws packed audiences and big profits.

Trade Unions: 

The inspirational Jayaben Desai and Grunwick Strikers

Date: 

27 February, 2014 - 18:00

Location: 

Trent House, 1-2 Leazes Lane, Newcastle, NE1 4QT

Description: 

Film Showing and discussion: The Grunwick dispute, 1976-8, was important in the history of the British labour movement; at its height it involved, for the first time, white, mainly male trade unionists showing solidarity with South Asian women workers who were organising for the first time. All welcome - 07740099479 - newcastle@workersliberty.org - workersliberty.org

https://www.facebook.com/events/234251243365540

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

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Teamster Rebellion: a reading group

Date: 

Repeats every week until Wed Mar 19 2014 .
12 February, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30
19 February, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30
26 February, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30
5 March, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30
12 March, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30
19 March, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30

Location: 

University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY

Description: 

In 1934, truck drivers (“teamsters”) in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA, struck for shorter hours, pay increases, overtime pay, and other demands. The mass strike was the result of a sustained unionisation drive, led by revolutionary socialists. The 1934 strike brought rank-and-file teamsters into direct confrontation with the bosses, the state, and the union officials, with parts of Minneapolis effectively brought under workers’ control.

The strike is rich with lessons for how workers can organise and build power.

Farrell Dobbs, a participant in the strike and Trotskyist activist, documented his experiences in Teamster Rebellion. A group of student and workers’ movement activists are coming together to read the book collectively, and discuss what we can learn from it.

The first session will introduce the book and the themes of the course, and discussion of the book will begin in week two.

The reading group is organised by members of Workers’ Liberty, and is open to anyone who wants to learn about working-class history and how we can build workers’ power today.

• Facebook event here.
• Download a leaflet for the group here.
• We will be using a Workers' Liberty study guide to help us work through the book and discuss the issues in it. Download a copy here.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

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Tube union ballots for strikes

London Underground union RMT has begun balloting for strikes to stop a management cuts plan that will lead to the closure of every ticket office on London Underground and the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs.

London Underground union RMT has begun balloting for strikes to stop a management cuts plan that will lead to the closure of every ticket office on London Underground and the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs.

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Tres Cosas strikers win

Outsourced workers at Uni of London have won sick pay and holiday terms of very-near equivalence with directly-employed staff.

Outsourced workers at Uni of London have won sick pay and holiday terms of very-near equivalence with directly-employed staff after a long campaign and a two-day strike (27 and 28 November 2013).

Massive victory for 3 Cosas campaign, workers' self-organisation, and militant industrial action. Two demands down, one to go (plus union recognition)!

Tres Cosas campaign blog

Photos and reports from the strikes.

Trade Unions: 

Organising academics as workers

Academics love nothing more than having a moan about the terrible state of the neo-liberal university. We tend to be slightly less enthusiastic when it comes to getting up from our desks and doing something about it. This has begun to change, however, as pockets of resistance have begun to emerge at several different British universities in the last few years.

How can socialist academic workers respond to the proliferation of hourly-paid, precarious working arrangements in the industry, as well as to union officials unwilling to shift the unions' focus away from better-off, more established staff members?

Issues and Campaigns: 

Trade Unions: 

New leaflet for the Defend Bob Carnegie campaign

Victimised Australian trade unionist Bob Carnegie returns to court on 4 February 2014, as Abigroup bring a civil case against him and two unions (the CFMEU and ETU).

Victimised Australian trade unionist Bob Carnegie returns to court on 4 February 2014, as Abigroup bring a civil case against him and two unions (the CFMEU and ETU).

Around the world: 

Trade Unions: 

More lessons from Grangemouth

The recent debacle surrounding the dispute at the Ineos petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth in Scotland could represent a significant defeat for the trade union movement. It certainly is a debilitating setback and an embarrassing climbdown. It raises some very worrying questions for socialists.

A further contribution to a discussion on the lessons of the defeat at the Grangemouth oil refinery.

Around the world: 

Trade Unions: 

3 Cosas, independent unions, and transforming the labour movement

Earlier this summer, Max Watson, Chair of London Met Unison, and on the National Executive Council, wrote on his blog an article entitled “IWGB: Two small unions?”. Max documents the behaviour of the IWGB (Independent Workers union of Great Britain) trade union at London Met – claiming poaching, duplicity, and more.

How can socialists transform the labour movement? A contribution to a debate about the 3 Cosas campaign and independent union initiatives.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Trade Unions: 

Workers' Liberty bulletin for 29 September TUC demonstration

An AWL bulletin for the TUC demonstration at the Tory party conference in Manchester, Sunday 29 September.

An AWL bulletin for the TUC demonstration at the Tory party conference in Manchester, Sunday 29 September.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trade Unions: 

"The fundamental element was our confidence in the working class"

Mike Treen, the National Director of the Unite union in New Zealand (no connection to the British union of the same name) spoke to Solidarity about their drives to organise precarious workers in the fast food and service industries.

Mike Treen, the National Director of the Unite union in New Zealand (no connection to the British union of the same name) spoke to Solidarity about their drives to organise precarious workers in the fast food and service industries.

Around the world: 

Trade Unions: 

No job cuts on London Overground!

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Democratise our unions!

The RMT is currently conducting a root-and-branch review of its internal structures. This means RMT members have a chance to say how they think their union should be organised.

The RMT is currently conducting a root-and-branch review of its internal structures. This means RMT members have a chance to say how they think their union should be organised.

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Assessing the East Midlands Trains pensions fight

In the aftermath of the pension dispute some rank-and-file train driver members of ASLEF at Nottingham attempted to call the leadership to account over their undemocratic actions in settling the dispute against the clearly stated wishes of the membership.

In the aftermath of the pension dispute some rank-and-file train driver members of ASLEF at Nottingham attempted to call the leadership to account over their undemocratic actions in settling the dispute against the clearly stated wishes of the membership.

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

South West Trains in the heatwave

In the recent scorching temperatures South West Trains staff have often had to work out in the open in full uniform.

In the recent scorching temperatures South West Trains staff have often had to work out in the open in full uniform.

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Cleaners' battles continue

The Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners’ struggle for living wages, sick pay, and travel pass equality is now one of the longest-running disputes in the British labour movement.

The Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners’ struggle for living wages, sick pay, and travel pass equality is now one of the longest-running disputes in the British labour movement.

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Fighting casualisation

This issue of Off The Rails focuses on the issue of casualisation, and how to fight it (and how not to fight it!).

This issue of Off The Rails focuses on the issue of casualisation, and how to fight it (and how not to fight it!).

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Tubeworker/Off The Rails joint bulletin for London Overground workers - August 2013

A bulletin for London Overground staff discussing the fight against job cuts.

Click here to download the PDF.

A bulletin for London Overground staff discussing the fight against job cuts.

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Were the University of London outsourced workers right to leave Unison?

This article was written in response to a piece in Socialist Review. The author has also requested that it be published there. We host it in our website in the interests of furthering the debate.


The move of Senate House cleaners, other outsourced staff, and their supporters to leave Unison en masse and form a University of London branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), after the annulment of their elections, has sparked heated debate within trade union circles, especially among Unison activists.

Jason Moyer-Lee, secretary of the University of London IWGB branch, contributes to the debate about whether outsourced workers were right to leave Unison.

Trade Unions: 

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Appeal fund for injured activist

Salford TUC has launched an appeal fund for George Tapp, a retired construction worker who suffered head injuries and two broken legs when he was run over during an anti-blacklisting action in Manchester.

Police claim George climbed onto the car’s bonnet, but witnesses say the driver was “driving like a lunatic”, and that his actions seemed obviously deliberate.

Activists from the Blacklist Support Group and the Unite Construction Rank-and-File have been organising a series of actions around the country to highlight the issue of blacklisting in the construction industry.

Salford TUC has launched an appeal fund for George Tapp, a retired construction worker who suffered head injuries and two broken legs when he was run over during an anti-blacklisting action in Manchester.

Trade Unions: 

Outsourced workers launch online campaign

Outsourced workers at the University of London have joined forces with trade union campaigning website LabourStart to demand sick pay, holidays, and pensions.

Outsourced workers at the University of London have joined forces with trade union campaigning website LabourStart to demand sick pay, holidays, and pensions. A summer programme of direct action is also planned.

Trade Unions: 

Leading trade unionist Steve Hedley accused of domestic violence

Caroline Leneghan, an RMT member, has publicly accused her former partner Steve Hedley, who is Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, of serious domestic violence.

She says: “I have decided to make a public statement about this because of his public position in the union and because I want to encourage other women to come forward who have faced similar abuse”.

Caroline Leneghan, an RMT member, has publicly accused her former partner Steve Hedley, the Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, of serious domestic violence.

Trade Unions: 

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