The role of leverage

Submitted by AWL on 19 November, 2013 - 12:04

We continue our discussion of the lessons of the Grangemouth defeat. Here, a contribution from Mark Best discusses how Unite’s “Organising and Leverage Department” can help win disputes.

Football pundits are fond of pointing out that it is not so much the defeat itself that teaches you anything meaningful about a team, but how they react to it in the matches that follow. Much the same could be said about Unite and the left following Grangemouth.

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University workers to strike againMatthewWed, 11/13/2013 - 12:58

Higher Education workers’ unions UCU, Unison, Unite (and the EIS union in Scotland) have called a strike on Tuesday 3 December.

Lecturers’ union UCU has begun a work-to-contract, asking members not to take on any duties not strictly required by their terms of employment.

Universities depend on the willingness of staff to work well beyond reasonable hours, and a well-organised campaign will help put management under pressure. Local organisation, down to departmental level, with regular members’ meetings, is the key to making the work-to-contract effective.

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Resist jobs massacreMatthewWed, 11/13/2013 - 12:48

Thousands of jobs are on the line as bosses in the shipbuilding, manufacturing and aviation industries plan huge layoffs.

BAE Systems plans to axe nearly 2,000 jobs by closing, or significantly reducing, sites in Glasgow and Portsmouth, ending shipbuilding entirely in the southern English city. The Polimeri chemical refinery in Southampton plans to close, threatening 300 jobs, and the Flybe airline, based in Exeter, plans to cut 500 jobs.

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Hicks and the witch huntMatthewWed, 11/13/2013 - 12:46

Another Sunday, another issue of the Sunday Times, another attack on Unite (on pages 1, 4, 16, 17, and 33).

But this time Jerry Hicks — three-time general secretary candidate, founder of “Grass Roots Left” in Unite, and now a leading figure in the new “Unite Grass Roots Rank and File” — has given a helping hand.

Hicks later backpedalled, and stressed that he was opposed to any attempt to use the complaint he has made over Unite’s general secretary election in a witch hunt against the union. But that was all too little, too late — and singularly unconvincing.

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The left on GrangemouthMatthewWed, 11/13/2013 - 12:40

The Unite union’s defeat by Ineos at the Grangemouth oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in Scotland merits serious analysis and discussion by socialist organisations. We need to understand what happened and draw appropriate lessons in order to minimise the risk of such defeats in future.

Much of the left press has been desperate to spin a narrative of a militant workforce champing at the bit to take radical action, but being held back (and, ultimately, stitched up and sold out) by a capitulatory bureaucracy.

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Lessons from the Grangemouth defeat

Submitted by AWL on 6 November, 2013 - 11:30

It wasn’t just the Ineos workforce in Grangemouth or Unite the Union which suffered a major defeat last month. It was all of us in the trade union movement.

Ineos workers will see their basic pay frozen until the end of 2016. There will be no bonus payments until then either. The shift allowance is being cut from £10,000 to £7,500. Overtime rates and holiday entitlements are being cut, and staffing levels are likely to be cut as well.

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How the media attacked our movement

Submitted by AWL on 6 November, 2013 - 11:21

It’s been a busy week for media hacks who hate trade unionists. And what better opportunity for hacks to vent their spleen than the fallout from the Ineos dispute in Grangemouth?

The Sunday Times (27 October) led the way with lengthy articles about the contents of e-mails sent or received by former Unite Ineos convenor Stevie Deans.

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Red lines on Collins

Submitted by Matthew on 6 November, 2013 - 9:15

24 December is the end of the consultation period for local Labour Parties and trade unions on the proposals about Labour’s trade union link being prepared by Ray Collins.

Much will depend on the stance of Unite, the biggest union affiliated to the Labour Party.

Although Unite is considered a left-wing union, and although its United Left group, which commands a majority on the union executive, has voted for uncompromising defence of existing union representation in the Labour Party, the union’s position is ambiguous.

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More lessons from Grangemouth

Submitted by AWL on 30 October, 2013 - 3:08

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.

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