Strikes and trade union history

The new opposition in the post-Mandelite Fourth International

Author: 

Martin Thomas

1. How the Fourth International's world view was shattered in 1989-91

Since the 1990s, the "Fourth International" has become more and more like a loosely-Marxist think-tank, or association of think-tanks, geared to left social democracy.

"Fourth International" here refers to the international network associated with the ideas of Ernest Mandel, otherwise called "USFI" or "United Secretariat of the Fourth International", though it ceased to have a leading body called "United Secretariat" as long ago as 2003.

Review of the new grouping involving Socialist Action (USA), A&R (France), and other groups.

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Three big disputes

Author: 

Bob Carnegie

The most important industrial disputes that I’ve been involved in were the 1985 SEQEB (South East Queensland Electricity Board) dispute; the maritime dispute of 1998; and the 63-day Queensland Children’s Hospital construction workers’ dispute of 2012, after which I had a long battle against both criminal charges and litigation for civil damages.

An interview with Bob Carnegie in 2015 about the most important industrial disputes he was involved in, the 1985 South East Queensland Electricity Board dispute; the maritime dispute of 1998; and the 63-day Queensland Children’s Hospital construction workers’ dispute of 2012.

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Comrade Hand Grenade

Author: 

Bill Hunt

The Builders Labourer, the journal of the Builders Labourers Federation of Queensland, carried this tribute by Bill Hunt to Bob Carnegie in 2008 when Bob decided to step down as a full-time organiser with the BLF to return to work on the sites.


By now many if not most of our members will be aware that Bob Carnegie is no longer an organiser with the BLF Bob has a job with Grocon as a peggy [site cleaner] and is looking forward to reacquainting himself with the rank and file.

The Builders Labourer, the journal of the Builders Labourers Federation of Queensland, carried this tribute by Bill Hunt to Bob Carnegie in 2008 when Bob decided to step down as a full-time organiser with the BLF to return to work on the sites.

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What is the “social strike”?

Author: 

Daniel Randall

Recent strikes by “gig economy” workers (e.g. Deliveroo) are profoundly significant. They explode the myth, peddled by some on both left and right, that so-called precarious workers can’t organise, and that the proliferation of those types of work is in the process of rendering labour organising historically redundant.

A fetishisation of novelty can sometimes blind us to the fact that what’s required is not “new kinds of strike action”, or new forms of organisation, but rather a rediscovery and relearning of old lessons, ideas, and strategies, now forgotten or lost.

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Shrewsbury 24: how we started a campaign to defend pickets

Author: 

Keith Road

Our political group has recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. We have been reflecting on some of the movements and disputes that we have played an active role in. One of these was Shrewsbury 24 campaign over the victimisation of building workers in 1972.

1972 saw a major wave of industrial action in Britain. There were more work days lost to strike action in that year than in any other since the 1926 General Strike. States of Emergency were declared during both a miners’ and a dockers’ strike.

1972 saw a major wave of industrial action in Britain. There were more work days lost to strike action in that year than in any other since the 1926 General Strike. States of Emergency were declared during both a miners’ and a dockers’ strike.

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Changing through struggle

Author: 

Bruce Robinson

Sun-Hee works as a cashier in a large supermarket in a South Korean town. She is just about managing, working unpaid overtime she hopes will earn her the permanent position she has been promised which would enable her to satisfy some of her children’s wants. Shy and passive, she watches as a colleague, Hye-mi, is humiliated by being forced to apologise on her knees to a customer.

A review of the 2014 South Korean film ‘Cart’.

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A socialist who grew with the movement

Author: 

Jeff Rickertt in conversation with Martin Thomas

Ernie Lane was an active fighter for revolutionary socialist politics - as he understood them, in different ways over the years - in Brisbane, Australia, from the late 1880s through to 1954, a model of persistence and tenacity though not always of acuity. Jeff Rickertt, author of a recently-published biography of Ernie, The Conscientious Communist, talked with Solidarity about Ernie and about the book.

Jeff Rickertt, author of a recently-published biography of long-time activist Ernie Lane, talks about his book.

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Ports and workers’ power

Author: 

Martin Thomas

"The RWG [container] terminal [in Rotterdam, 2.35m teu capacity], with its fully automated cranes, is operated by a team of no more than 10 to 15 people on a day-to-day basis. Most of its 180 employees aren’t longshoremen, but IT specialists” (Journal of Commerce, 4 Feburary 2016).

The managing director says: “We are in fact, an IT company that handles containers”.

Compare: in 1900 the Port of London was the busiest port in the world. It had 50,000 workers shifting cargo mostly by hand, as they had done for thousands of years. It handled 7 million tons of cargo.

Port work went through a technological revolution in the 1960s and 70s, with “containerisation”. Now it is going through another technological revolution, with automation.

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The life and films of Ken Loach

Author: 

Luke Hardy

People think they know what to expect from a Ken Loach type of film. It’s about working class struggle, collectively or as individuals. It’s political. It uses non-professional actors, alongside professional ones. It will be naturalistic and eschew studio filming or flashy effects. The welcome BBC documentary ‘Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach’ reminds us there is more to Loach.

A review of Versus, now available on BBC iPlayer.

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Connolly and the Dublin lockout

Author: 

Michael Johnson

Part eight of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly. The rest of the series can be found here.


While the Home Rule crisis raged in Ulster, the southern Irish labour movement was about to engage in a class battle of unprecedented militancy.

Part eight of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly.

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