Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category
Last night Enrico Tortolano, spoke on neo-liberal economics and politics to a public meeting at he UNITE offices held by the Ipswich People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
Up to 30 people turned up her brother Tortolano, who has worked on human rights with social movements in Latin America, and now is a research officer for the PCS union as well as writing for Tribune.
Enrico gave a talk of great clarity on how the wealthy have established free-market economics as the foundation of state policy in many countries. Everybody is told to be ‘self-reliant’ as taxes are lowered for the well-off and all forms of redistribution are undermined. We have, Tortolano said, crept back to pre-First World War levels of inequality.
In Britain attacks on welfare and privatising the state were being pushed through as part of what Naomi Klein called the “shock doctrine”. That is, taking advantage of a crisis to push through extreme free-market ideas.
He noted that the first to apply this method had been Augusto Pinochet , the Chilean dictator.
The recently deceased Margaret Thatcher had admired the leader of the Chilean coup, which had left thousands of left opponents dead and many more imprisoned and tortured.
From annual get-togethers in Davos (Switzerland), to thousands of ‘think-tanks’ and sympathetic media, their message has been relayed by all the main political parties in the West.
British politics seem to be restricted to the limits set by the ‘orthodox’ free-market economics.
The People’s Assembly, Tortalano said, offered a real opportunity for the left to unite and to put forward a different economic and political strategy. Ultimately the threat to the planet’s resources from the market would affect everybody.
The audience, which included trade unionists, local Labour councillors, library campaigners, and activists from the Green and socialist parties, joined in a fruitful discussion on this talk.
It was suggested that the People’s Assembly should take up the issue of low pay (very important in Ipswich), of the Bedroom Tax, and the fight against the wave of further cuts in public spending that will affect council (above all County Council) services in the coming months.
The Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa Mackay pointed out that 80% of the cuts were still to come.
It was argued that the People’s Assembly needs a constructive and a positive message. It was not enough to just fight neoliberal economics and the hatred of the poor and migrant workers stirred up by the Liberal-Tory Coalition.
The left has to offer a democratic and egalitarian way of creating institutions for equality and collective need.
A co-ordinator will organise E-Mail contacts for the Ipswich People’s Assembly.
Transport will be available from Ipswich to take people to the London Assembly.
In the coming weeks we will be organising a campaign locally to draw attention to the links between Primark and other retail outlets and the terrible deaths of garment workers in Bangladesh.
As an activist said, “The numbers of the dead just keep rising.”
“Nous voulons la rupture avec le PS”
He charged the country’s Socialist Party of participating in “neo-liberal” governments.
La FGTB Charleroi organise samedi avec la CNE-Hainaut un meeting pour créer une “alternative de gauche à la crise capitaliste”. Des formations de la gauche radicale sont aussi invitées, mais il n’est pas question de créer un nouveau parti explique Daniel Piron, secrétaire régional de la FGTB Charleroi/Sud-Hainaut. “Il y a une volonté de travailler ensemble et d’élargir la réflexion aux autres instances syndicales de la FGTB et de la CSC“**.
The FGBT Charleroi is organising a meeting on Saturday with the CNE-Hinaut to “create a left-wing alternative to the capitalist crisis. Organisations of the radical left have been invited, though there is no question of forming a new party, explained Daniel Prion, the regional secretary of the FGBT Charlero/Sud-Hainaut. “There is a will to work together, to deeper our analysis, with other parts of the union structure inside the FGBT and the CSC”.
Daniel Piron added,
le PS et Ecolo “ne sont plus des partis qui relaient les revendications du monde du travail. Ces partis sont intégrés au système.
The Socialist Party and the Greens are “no longer parties which reflect the demands of working people. These parties are part-and-parcel of the system.
Background information on La Lettre aux syndicalistes Blog here.
The left groups invited include (see article here), Le parti de Gauche (aligned with its French counterpart of Jean-Luc Mélenchon) the Front des Gauches (alliance of 6 small groups, including Communist Party, and the LCR) , LCR (Fourth International), LRT (Committee for a Workers International CWI) , PTB (Parti du travail de Belgique – Partij van de Arbeid van België – Marxist-Leninist)
* 1,5 Million members. La Fédération générale du travail de Belgique (FGTB) (Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond = ABVV.
** 1,7 million members La Confédération des syndicats chrétiens, ou CS
Excellent article on the International Socialist Network by Kieran Crowe,
I think we need to talk about how we are going to deal with the People’s Assembly.
The piece continues,
I have been trying to locate some good data on the effectiveness of anti-cuts campaigns, and must confess I’ve drawn a bit of a blank. There does not seem to be brilliant data out there to say where cuts have have been successfully blocked. Suffice to say, the movements have not been without successes – though they have not been across the board anywhere, it has been far from impossible to organise against cuts.
The role of the organised left in the anti-cuts movement has, to say the least, been inconsistent and marked at times with gross sectarianism. As mentioned before, the Labour left has taken some time to find any footing at all with opposition to austerity, due to the key role of New Labour and Labour councillors, but they seem to have regained the initiative to a large extent with opposition to the bedroom tax. The smaller centre-left parties have been similarly contradictory: Green and Nationalist councils have pushed cuts through, while their activists in other areas have criticised Labour for exactly the same.
The role of the far left has not been particularly more glorious. The 2008 crisis prompted by the collapse of American hedge funds led us to a big push on anticapitalist rhetoric, but most of the tactical and strategic initiatives we produced were objective failures. Numerous campaigns and front groups were founded, usually as more or less exclusive tools of the founding organisation and with grand goals that they were objectively unable to pull off. The activists (often full-timers) pushing them were highly enthusiastic though, and often so adamant that ‘their united front’ was the one that would deliver victory that they would happily engage in Popular Front of Judea arguments with their counterparts for other groups pushing very similar looking campaigns.
Need we rehearse the disputes around the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and the so-called Unite the Resistance? Not to mention TUSC?
One development we are going to have to discuss is the People’s Assembly Against Austerity (PA). The PA is, in some ways, not really new as a concept – it is an outgrowth of the ‘Coalition of Resistance’ campaign that the was launched when several left groups were founding similar initiatives and that has received significant backing from the leaderships of several trade unions, notably the centre-left leadership of the mass Unite union under Len McCluskey.
The PA has, to say the very least, managed to stand out by being on a considerably larger scale than previous conferences. With a venue for over 2,000 booked, there is already the possibility of spill-over space being hired. This would make the PA four to five times larger than its nearest rival and probably one of the biggest activist conferences for a generation in Britain. The publicity it has generated has similarly been far greater than previous events: it has been plugged in the Guardian and denounced in the Spectator, which is a rare breakthrough into the mainstream, recalling a little the publicity that Stop the War got at its height.
My immediate reaction was to get on board.
There is, inevitably, a layer of the left that will attack the PA this way and make a point of principle out of it: witness the anarcho-miserablist Ian Bone of Class War, a man who famously advised people to stay away from anti-war demos in 2003, who has pledged to stand outside the PA venue, telling attendees how very wrong they are. If we take our activism seriously, we must find a mid-position between nodding along to McCluskey and abstaining on the sidelines with people like Bone who just think they’re smarter than everyone else.
Which will be fun, if nothing else.
My guess is the right approach to the PA would be to intervene through and as part of delegations to it from genuine campaigning groups. Most IS Network members ought to find this easy: we have, most of us, been part of anti-cuts groups at some stage, or can easily join one. Going into an anti-austerity body with the express purpose of getting it to participate in the PA would, in fact, be a useful thing to do and might help reinvigorate groups that have stalled.
This is in tune with what many of us feel.
Something I feel to be worth throwing into the debate is the role of trade union councils – in Barnet the trades council was central to the founding of the anti-cuts group and manages to remain in alliance with it even as it operates with its own autonomy. Anti-cuts groups elsewhere that have become moribund and trades councils that have been conservative for decades could potentially be revitalised in local areas if they get encouragement and support from similar groups that are doing better, giving us a far wider pool of activity to operate.
As a Trades Council activist I could not agree more.
There is also likely to be an interesting debate about regional People’s Assemblies later in the year – which have the potential to be very large and attract further layers of activists. Regional PAs would be quite different from a national one – indeed if you want a version of the event that is less ‘top table’, this may be what you would end up producing. It is still not counterposed to the national event.
One thing I do not believe can be argued is that that the event can be simply abstained from, though if other people do have other ideas for fighting austerity, we should hear about those too.
This analysis is so spot on that I nothing more to add.
Obviously The International Socialist Network is going places.
A People’s Assembly Against Austerity group is being set up in Ipswich, Suffolk.
George Osborne Weeps: Will Thatcherism Now Die as well?
With that funeral Class Hatred came back yesterday.
David Cameron boasted that “We all Thatcherites now”.
He can say it three times but it will still not be true.
The ceremony was said to be truly moving magnificent .
For all the grandeur, they claimed a simple purpose. They had come, they said, not to bury a political figure or an “-ism”, but a woman of flesh and blood, a mortal who was “one of us”. And yet there were moments when it seemed they had come to bury an entire era, to conclude at last that dizzying, turbulent decade where she reigned supreme. The ceremony that hushed central London on Wednesday morning was a farewell to Margaret Thatcher – but also to the 1980s.
The sight of so many grasping, grudging, gruesome, mean-spirited, mean-minded, and mean-intentioned mourners stirred up great feelings of class loathing across the country.
Sharp divisions sprang up again, as if they had never gone away.
Thatcher was “one of them“.
The Liberal-Tory Coalition is trying to complete the ‘Thatcher Revolution’ by destroying everything that remains of social democracy, equality and care for others.
Instead of collective pride in our common wealth, they promote the private richess of the few.
Instead of joyful unity between people they bring hatred and fear of the many, the poor and migrants,
On the television a succession of admirers of Thatcher have paraded their own merits.
They have done down the efforts of those who have not benefited from the market.
This is a different picture that will remain seared on our minds,
An Effigy of Margaret Thatcher (‘Thatcher the Scab’) is burnt in the former Mining Village of Goldthorpe.
Against fear and hatred the left can build something new.
Sisters, Brothers, Comrades – there’s a place for you: in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity!