Union organising

How to organise young workers

Supersize my pay

Author: 

Editorial
Lessons from New Zealand, France, and the USA about how to organise young workers in the fast-food and similar industries.

One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector.

This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs.

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Workers' Liberty 3/3: Factory bulletins in the 1920s and today

Workers' Liberty 3/3 (March 2006) reproduces many communist factory bulletins from the 1920s, and discussion from that era about how they should be produced. "Workers cannot write newspapers? Really? Just tell us some news about your factory". It also includes information on workplace bulletins produced by the AWL. Click here to download pdf.

How to take revolutionary politics into the workplace.

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Rebuild socialist infrastructure!

Author: 

Edd Mustill

It was interesting to read the latest in the exchange between Daniel Randall and John Cunningham (Solidarity 367).

Over the last few years it has often seemed to me that exhortations to rethink our fundamental ideas have come from many quarters and not resulted in much. They are in a similar vein to the person who sits in the campaign planning meeting saying “we need to be more creative,” but when you drill down into what they actually mean it doesn’t go much further than “have a Twitter” or “sit in a shop for a bit.”

There is a real historical crisis of political social democracy which is occurring due to the reconfiguration of the labour market, the death of manufacturing jobs and all the rest of it. The irony is that the trade unions will probably, in the long run, ride this out much more successfully than the Labour Party will. Of course our call centres and warehouses are not post-industrial in any sense, as workplaces.

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US docks: automation versus union power

Author: 

Barry Docherty

Members of the American International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have just agreed a five-year deal with the employers federation, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The deal covers 20,000 dockworkers at twenty-nine US west coast ports.

The nine-month-long war of attrition by the PMA which preceded the deal was the latest stage in an employers’ offensive against US dockers stretching back to the early 1960s. Before then, working conditions on the docks had been dictated by the ILWU’s victory in the 1934 US West Coast dockers strike.

Members of the American International Longshore and Warehouse Union have agreed a five-year deal with the employers federation, the Pacific Maritime Association. The deal covers 20,000 dockworkers at twenty-nine US West Coast ports.

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The old new

Are Amazon’s warehouses “post-industrial”? Does not, in fact, even a large university or hospital have rather a lot in common with an old-fashioned industrial complex? Agency working, casualisation, and precarity have disrupted and to some extent atomised the relationship of workers to their work, and to each other. But while those things are now more common, they are not entirely new.

Unlike many who emphasise the novelty of any given period, and insist that some innovative new approach must be adopted, John Cunningham (“It is not ‘business as usual for the left”, Solidarity 366, 3 June 2015) at least has the honesty to admit that he doesn’t know what that new approach is. “I take no pleasure from the comments I make here”, John says, “as I have no alternative to offer.” Honest, but nevertheless frustrating.

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Three decades of organising

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Veteran Australian trade union activist and Workers’ Liberty member Bob Carnegie has been speaking to meetings around the UK about his organising experiences over three decades.

Starting the tour on Tuesday 12 May Bob spoke to a meeting of Lambeth Left Unity, alongside an activist from the Ritzy Cinema workers campaign. On Wednesday 13 May Bob spoke at the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference with Dave Smith of the Blacklist Support Group. The FBU may have been subject to blacklisting practices and a police cover-up.

Veteran Australian trade union activist and Workers’ Liberty member Bob Carnegie has been speaking to meetings around the UK about his organising experiences over three decades.

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How New Zealand workers took on the fast food companies, and won

Author: 

Mike Treen, National Director (Unite New Zealand)

This article is republished, with permission, from the Unite website here.


Workers in the fast food industry in New Zealand scored a spectacular victory over what has been dubbed “zero hour contracts” during a collective agreement bargaining round over the course of March and April this year.

A campaign led by workers in the Unite union in New Zealand has defeated zero-hours contracts at several fast food chains. Mike Treen, National Director of Unite, tells the story of the campaign.

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Bob Carnegie tour of England, May 2015

Author: 

Gemma Short

Bob Carnegie, who has been at the heart of every major workers' struggle in Brisbane, Australia, for more than three decades, is coming to the UK to talk about his experiences and lessons for organising workers. Read more at the tour blog.

Bob Carnegie is coming to the UK to talk about his experiences and lessons for organising workers.

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Not defeatist, realistic

Author: 

Len Glover

Andy Forse (Solidarity 357) accuses me of “defeatism” in his reply to my criticism of his article “Why I’m not voting Green” (Solidarity 356). Personally, I would prefer Gramsci’s oft-quoted “Optimism of the will, pessimism of the intelligence”.

Labour and the union link.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens and Gemma Short

Pat Hutton, GMB rep at Queen Elizabeth Hospital where workers have been on strike to win the same terms and conditions as in-house workers, spoke to Solidarity.

"Since our last strikes at Christmas, GMB has been going round hospitals where they recruited scabs — in Liverpool, Coventry, Westminster, Chelsea, Kingston — organising to stop it.

A lot of the scabs were casuals and didn’t know what was going on. With the help of GMB in those places we put a stop to it.

Cleaners ballot on pay offer; National Gallery strikes continue; Essex FBU extend strike to nine days; defend all jobs on the Tube; no Academies in Lewisham; 80% of jobs to be outsourced in Barnet.

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