Strikes and trade union history

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.

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

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.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Culture and Reviews: 

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.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Connolly, the USA, and the Wobblies

Author: 

Michael Johnson

In June 1905, the American workers’ movement took a huge leap forward, with the establishment of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Chicago.

Its roots lay in the militancy of mine workers in the mid-western states, where for a decade the Western Federation of Miners had been fighting intense class battles with the employers, uniting skilled and unskilled workers and relying on workers’ own strength and solidarity to defeat the bosses.

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

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Save the jobs. Nationalise steel!

Author: 

Ralph Peters

At the end of March Tata Steel announced it was pulling out of all or part of its UK operations, threatening nearly 14,000 jobs and many thousands more in related industries.

It said its UK steel operations were losing money despite rising demand due to lower global steel prices. The biggest potential losses, unless buyers can be found for the plants, are in Scunthorpe (3,381 jobs) and Port Talbot (4,104 jobs). And right now the Tories are going to stand back and allow what might be the near destruction of steel making in the UK.

At the end of March Tata Steel announced it was pulling out of all or part of its UK operations, threatening nearly 14,000 jobs and many thousands more in related industries.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The left before 1968: two contributions

Author: 

Sean Matgamna, Patrick Avaakum

13 February 2016 conference: Before ’68: the Left, Activism and Social Movements in the Long 1960s

Two contributions

1. Militancy and Solidarity on the docks in the 1960s
2. The life and times of Bob Pennington

Click here to download pdf.

Militancy and Solidarity on the docks in the 1960s; and: The life and times of Bob Pennington

Marxist Theory and History: 

Les Forster, 1919-2016

Author: 

Ann Field

The veteran Glasgow socialist Les Forster died last week, aged 96. Forster was the last survivor of a generation of socialist activists in the West of Scotland who broke with the Communist Party in the early 1950s and struck out to build a non-Stalinist and anti-Stalinist socialist tradition.

The veteran Glasgow socialist Les Forster died last week, aged 96. Forster was the last survivor of a generation of socialist activists in the West of Scotland who broke with the Communist Party in the early 1950s and struck out to build a non-Stalinist and anti-Stalinist socialist tradition.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

When printworkers took on Rupert Murdoch

Author: 

Cathy Nugent

In 1986, Rupert Murdoch, working closely with the Thatcher government, set out to smash the print unions. Knowing how Murdoch did that is essential to understanding how he became a feared and feted establishment figure.

Murdoch began his domination of media business in the UK with the acquisition of the News of the World in 1968, followed by the Sun (1969), then the Times and Sunday Times (1981). Soon after acquiring the Times/Sunday Times, Murdoch pushed through major staffing cuts and a wage freeze.

In 1986, Rupert Murdoch, working closely with the Thatcher government, set out to smash the print unions. Knowing how Murdoch did that is essential to understanding how he became a feared and feted establishment figure.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Trade Unions: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

The horror of ″the lump″

Author: 

Hugh Edwards

On Saturday 14 November, more than 100 people squeezed into the Three Minute Theatre in Manchester for a very rare showing of “The Lump”.

″The Lump″, a film made for TV in 1967 by socialist Jim Allen, and produced for the BBC by Tony Garnett, is an exposure of the corrupt building industry and the conditions of brutal exploitation and oppression of the workforce.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

“Bottom up not top down”

Author: 

Liam Conway

La Villita (Little Village), West Side Chicago, 2001. Parents demand that a school is built on vacant land. Nineteen go on hunger strike to achieve this goal.

They pledge not to back down until there is justice on the south side of town. Many local people turn out to show solidarity with the hunger strikers. Not only do they win the demand for a school but also a role for teachers, parents and students in the design of the new building.

A review of Chicago: the Great Teachers Strike by Banner Theatre.

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Pages