Unions

What We Believe - WSM Points of Unity Explained - Audio

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This is a series explaining the 8 Points of Unity of the Workers Solidarity Movement - an anarchist organisation active on the island of Ireland. [Download PDF of these explanations]

The WSM regularly discusses, debates and decides on what our collective political approach is. The Points of Unity are the most basic political agreement necessary to be a WSM member or supporter. They are 8 short points which outline the anarchism the WSM stands for.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 5 - Trade Unions

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'5. A major focus of our activity is our work within the economic organisations of the working class (labour organisations, trade unions, syndicates) where this is a possibility. We therefore reject views that dismiss activity in the unions because as members of the working class it is only natural that we should also be members of these mass organisations. Within them we fight for the democratic structures typical of anarcho-syndicalist unions like the 1930's CNT. However, the unions no matter how revolutionary cannot replace the need for anarchist political organisation(s).'

Throughout history the trade union movement has been a vitally important mass movement. In the face of bitter hardship and repression - even state murder - the downtrodden have banded together and demanded more, driving society forwards in the process. For instance, in Ireland we can thank the union movement for the end of child labour and for the 'weekend'. However, unions are not a relic for museums. Recent victories for better conditions and pay are a practical proof of that, not to mention participation of some fairly large unions in wider grassroots political campaigns. In spite of the relative decline of trade unions in the past neoliberal decades, their role today is still greatly important, as long as there are zero-hour contracts, wage cuts, pay freezes, lay-offs, unpaid overtime, long days, workplace bullying, and capitalism itself.

The Twisted Road to Partnership: Can the trade union movement be saved from the bureaucracy?

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As the trade union leadership does its best to drag us back into a new round of ‘social partnership’, Gregor Kerr – an activist in the Irish National Teachers Organisation – compares the best and worst of recent developments in the trade unions and poses a challenge – Can we save the movement by ridding it of the stultifying bureaucracy that seems set to strangle the life out of it?

The past number of months have witnessed the best and the worst of the trade union movement and its leadership.  On the one hand, the presence of 5 trade unions – Unite, Mandate, CPSU, CWU and OPATSI – in the leadership of the Right2Water Campaign has certainly contributed to its being able to mobilise some of the biggest street mobilisations in the history of the state.  But on the other hand the paucity of ambition and their perspective on how change in society is brought about, sees those unions and their leaderships doing their best to drag what has been largely a community-led campaign down the well-trodden and unlikely-to-succeed electoral path.

 

 

Sometimes Lightning Strikes Twice: Pledge to Strike 4 Repeal

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A new intention to #Strike4Repeal has been announced as we still wait for a referendum and as importantly to see what it is we will get to vote on.

See https://www.wsm.ie/strike4repeal for coverage from last year.

Pledge to Strike 4 Repeal here: https://goo.gl/forms/DTDfA9tQ0kZ0HQ6F3

 

Why Irish Rail workers are right to strike

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The Workers Solidarity Movement extends its solidarity to all workers at Irish Rail. A series of one-day stoppages and pickets to secure pay rises are planned over the months of November and December. The sought-after pay increases (3.75 per cent annually) are in line with pay increases secured by other transport workers in Dublin Bus, Luas, and Bus Éireann, all of whom secured these victories following collective industrial action and numerous strikes.

 

Rebuilding radical trade unions from below - audio from #DABF 2016

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One hundred years after the vigorous labour organising of Jim Larkin, James Connolly, Rosie Hackett, and Louis Bennett in Ireland, we still remember the old labour slogan “An injury to one is an injury to all”.

But in their present structure, are trade unions nothing more than an arm of the state and of the bosses? Do unions function more to control workers rather than advance their interests? Can the major unions be reformed from within, or should we start building new ones? Are militant trade unionists ‘wreckers’, or the future of the labour movement?

Clery's: The Case for Occupation

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Fridays shock closure of the iconic Clery’s department store in Dublin shows how the law is set up to favour capital and screw workers. Workers are being told there may be no additional redundancy or owed holiday payments as the company is in debt. But this is only the case because right before the closure the largest asset, the building itself, was separated off from the accumulated debts. This was almost certainly legal under our system but of such obvious dubious morality that the workers could expect massive popular support if they occupied the building on a permanent ongoing basis.

According to SIPTU unions organisers some of the workers are owned “four or five weeks’ wages” and the limited redundancy they will get will come not from the company but from the rest of us via the government’s insolvency and social insurance fund which pays out statutory redundancy when companies declare bankruptcy. In other words all those costs are to paid by us.

McDonalds Workers in New Zealand Win May Day Victory Over Zero Hours Contracts

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Congratulations to workers at McDonalds and their union, Unite in New Zealand/Aotearoa who have won their battle with the employer and ended zero hour contracts at the fast food giant!

The workers were due to strike today 1st of May, but McDonalds backed down at the last minute. From 1 October 2015, all McDonald's employees will be offered 80 per cent security of hours, up to a 32 hour weekly cap, based on the average of the previous fixed quarterly worked hours.

 

Asian Unions Check out Anarchism

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Discussions have begun between anarchists and two Asian trade unions, the National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh which organises 5% of the 1 million textile workers of Bangladesh and the GEFONT trade union federation of Nepal. The NGWF calls itself an "independent revolutionary union organisation". GEFONT was a (pro-China) Communist Party oriented federation but following the collapse of the USSR and solidarity from anarchists during the recent battery strike is now developing contacts with anarchists.

About the International Workers' Association (IWA)

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Anarcho-syndicalism has been and continues to be the most influential current within anarchism. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to build revolutionary unions, that organise all workers in a democratic union with a minimum number of full time 'officials' who will be on the average wage of those they represent and completely answerable to the rest of the membership.

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