Union organising

How to organise young workers

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. According to a recent TUC survey, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly a third of the total workforce in hotels and restaurants in the UK (migrant workers and women of all ages...

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.

Amazon: organising after a defeat

For the union to succeed in the historic drive to get recognition at Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama, USA, fifty-per cent plus one would have had to vote “yes”. Out of the 3,215 workers who voted over seven weeks up to 29 March, 1,798 “no” votes and 738 “yes” votes were recorded before voided and challenged ballots were counted. If the workers had won, they would have been the largest number of workers to certify a union in the private sector in three decades. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is challenging the company for a variety of illegal intimidation...

Vale Peter Simpson, 1963-2020

A tribute to Peter Simpson, lifelong activist with the Electrical Trades Union and Queensland state secretary 2009-2016

DVLA strike solid

The strike at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea, from 6-9 April, was very solid. Workers there were striking against having been forced to come into the physical workplace in far greater numbers than necessary. Around 2,000 workers have been made to come in, when during the first lockdown, numbers in the low hundreds were required on site to perform essential and emergency work only. We estimate that, of that 2,000 or so, around 1,400 joined the strike, so that’s a significant number and one that’s had a big impact on the work there. I think the employer was...

Uber cheats justice as drivers strike

On Monday 22 March food couriers working for UberEats struck in Plymouth, demanding higher pay. At the time of going to press, UberEats drivers in Sheffield are discussing taking action, too. For all that Uber is trying to turn the screws on its food delivery workers and cheat its taxi workers, recent developments in the courts have opened a door for workers to make big gains. A ruling by the UK Supreme Court earlier this year stated that Uber taxi workers (though not yet UberEats workers) should be classed as “dependent contractors”, i.e. a type of worker, also known as a “limb (b) worker”...

Organising couriers in Israel

Uri Metuki spoke to Michael Elms of Solidarity about couriers in Israel fighting for rights of union organisation. Uri leads the “youth and students” section of the Histadrut organising effort. JustEat/10bis employs 1,700 couriers. The other company is called Wolt, which is a spurious self-employment company. We have some couriers who approached us from Wolt, we started talking with them and finding out about the situation, but the organising drive took off with JustEat/10bis. We have more than half the workforce, but they did not recognise the union. They used all kind of union-busting...

"Modern slavery": grandstanding vs helping workers organise

Emily Kenway is a former adviser to the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the author of The Truth About Modern Slavery (Pluto Press, 2021). She spoke to George Wheeler for Solidarity. (The book is reviewed here.) Can you explain a little of what the book is about, and why you wrote it? The book is about how modern slavery is a particular narrative about exploitation, constructed largely by philanthrocapitalists, anti-sex work activists and anti-migrant politicians. It shows how calling exploitation “modern slavery”, and all that this entails, suggests a moral crusade but undermines the...

Black workers take on Amazon

A union organising drive at Amazon’s new fulfillment centre (BMH1) in Bessemer, Alabama, a majority Black and working-class city adjacent to Birmingham, began in the late summer of 2020, when a handful of workers, fed up with stressful working conditions, intrusive monitoring and lack of safety during the pandemic, contacted the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. The union has a high profile in the region, where it has organised poultry workers, many of whom are African American, as are around 85% of the BMH1 workers. From the beginning, Amazon mounted a massive anti-union propaganda...

New members for the union (John Moloney's column)

Our members in HMRC [Revenue and Customs] have voted overwhelmingly to accept a department-specific offer on pay and conditions. The National Executive Committee has decided that HMRC members therefore won’t be balloted as part of any national ballot for action to win better pay, against the Tories’ pay freeze, although they may be balloted as part of national disputes on other issues. Whilst I understand the logic of the NEC’s position, in my personal view I don’t believe that the HMRC deal fundamentally solves the real pay, terms and conditions problems that workers in that department face...

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