Apr 14 2018

FRENCH PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS UNDER ATTACK

We are posting this article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) about the attacks the French Macron government is launching on French rail workers. As the world retreats behind new national state barriers, France inside the EU seeks to pave the way for private capital to match those already achieved by its major competitor the USA, and a new competitor, soon to be outside the EU, the UK.

 

FRENCH PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS UNDER ATTACK

French public sector workers on strike on March 22nd

In France the Macron Government has set in motion plans for the destruction of the terms and conditions of approximately 150,000 workers in the national rail network, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF). The level of workers’ anger has produced an impressive response. The major unions involved have been forced into putting forward plans for industrial action and in a show of unity 13 organisations on the left have presented a joint statement of solidarity.

Huge protests took place on March 22nd in many cities and towns which mobilised almost half a million public service workers, not just railway workers but other services under threat, regional public transport employees, hospital and care home workers, Air traffic controllers and Air France employees. These were not token protests but were intended as a prelude to, rather than as a substitute for, the  campaign of industrial action which commenced on April 3rd  with a further 34 days of strike action planned over the next three months. Each Strike will last two days with a return to work for three days on a rolling basis with suggestions by one of the unions involved, SUD-Rail, of the need for an all out strike at that point.

Their plans for the defence of jobs and services has provoked a furious onslaught. Attempts to turn private sector workers against public sector workers are dominating the media. The railway workers find themselves on the receiving end of aggressive tactics, familiar to Irish public transport workers, portraying them as pampered, overpaid and  enjoying benefits that the rest of the working class don’t.  TV discussion programmes have dropped all pretense at objectivity with representatives of workers’ organisations receiving such a hectoring from fellow panelists and a carefully selected audience of “angry commuters” that they are practically prevented from presenting their case.

Macron’s “Thatcher moment”

The capitalist drive to increase profitability by increasing the rate of exploitation of labour has in Ireland given us a “recovery” which is clearly at the expense of the working class. This same assault has been much weaker in France. The share of GDP going to wages has dropped dramatically in Ireland, down more that 10% by 2016. In Latvia it is down over 18%, in Greece 14% while in Germany the drop has only been 0.9%. Italy has fallen 0.6% but due to stalwart resistance the working class of France has been the least affected by austerity with only an 0.2% increase in exploitation.

Public sector workers in the strongest central European powers have been left relatively intact but now the assault on the working class, well progressed in the more peripheral countries, is making its way towards the core of Europe. This is a calculated set-piece assault by Macron. The French bourgeoisie, on the back of Macron’s popular support, and driven by the need to increase profitability has decided to take on the workers, to test their strength and to attempt to pressurise the union bureaucrats into making concessions without too much of a fight.

A section of the French labour bureaucracy is aware of this. Bruno Poncet of the SUD-Rail union has said: “The government wants a trial of strength. It’s moving to try us out. It wants this test because it knows if it wins, the last resistance will have been overcome”. There is no doubt that this is an important struggle. If the railway workers are defeated or their bureaucracy sells them out it would be a set back for the entire European working class. Privatisation of public assets and an increase in the exploitation of labour will increase across the board and could retard the class struggle for years to come, indeed with the struggle falling symbolically on the 50th anniversary of the 1968 uprising Macron sees it as his “Thatcher moment”, a reference to the miners strike.

Solidarity

Solidarity is essential and not just between different sections of the working class and students in France. This is a struggle which can inflame the workers of Europe. The attack on the French rail workers is the application of the same economic logic that is behind the attacks on Irish workers pay and conditions and is a general attack on the European working class. If the rail workers are defeated the attack moves to the next phase where the weakest sections of workers are picked off one at a time as assaults on German and Italian workers are prepared.

Broader swathes of the working class are being brought into the struggle and the material conditions for increased workers’ unity in action are being strenghened by this accellerating drive to increase the exploitation of labour and restore profitability in the core European countries.  A drive that has remained unchallenged in Ireland by the pro-capitalist leadership of the Irish trade union movement who carefully fit their “demands” within the ‘fiscal space’ of the EU’s recovery plans and meekly accept pension cuts, two tier pay and privatisation.

Rank and file workers must demand that this acceptance ends. Teachers are once again preparing to challenge the exploitative two tier pay system and the transport workers’ struggles that dominated much of 2017 and were repeatedly sold out by the leadership  have not gone away. The attacks the SNCF workers  are now suffering is driven by the same capitalist strategy for recovery that lay behind the attacks on public transport, health, education and air transport workers in Ireland, largely the same cross section of the working class that was visable on the French demonstrations of March 22nd.

All the issues at Earnrod Eireann, and the privatisation of Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus routes are still in the frame and will come to the fore all the more aggressively if Macron is victorious.  Airport workers and pilots have also lately been in action and as the Ryanair recognition struggle illustrated are ideally placed to build international solidarity with French airline workers and Air Traffic Controllers.

Conditions are improving for a vast mobilisation of the working class. A victory for the French Rail workers would be instrumental in raising the confidence of the greater European working class, it would dispel the myth that the workers have no alternative other than accept the capitalist strategy for ‘recovery’  favoured by the ICTU bureaucracy who hold firmly to that position and a victory would help break their grip on the rank and file of the Irish unions.

Victory to the SNCF workers!

4.4.18

 

This article was first posted at:-

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentFrenchPublicSectorWorkersUnderAttack.html

 

 

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Mar 21 2018

BOB GOUPILLOT REPORTING FROM THE FRONTLINE OF THE UCU STRIKE

1. BOB GOUPILLOT REPORTING FROM THE FRONTLINE OF THE UCU STRIKE

I have just returned from the UCU picket lines at Edinburgh University. Today was the last day of this round of strike action in defence of our pensions. As I walked across the central campus earlier this morning it was really heartening to see the number of pickets at various entrances with lots of really witty placards and posters. We had earlier agreed to stop picketing at 12.30 and gather outside George Square lecture theatre which is currently being occupied by students in solidarity with our action and against the marketisation of education. Continue reading “BOB GOUPILLOT REPORTING FROM THE FRONTLINE OF THE UCU STRIKE”

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Mar 17 2018

SCOTTISH STAND UP TO RACISM BOWS TO ZIONIST PRESSURE

On  Saturday,  17th March, the organisers of Scottish Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) are organising a march in Glasgow in which the racist Confederation of Friends of Israel, displaying Israeli flags will be allowed to participate. Not  surprisingly this has aroused considerable opposition, not least amongst Palestinians who are victims of Israeli state racist oppression. Tony Greenstein  who lives in Brighton, and is a longstanding Jewish campaigner against all forms of racism, including Zionism, has written The Apartheid Flag of Israel as an introduction to the Statement from Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Organisation. This is followed by a Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Statement on Stand Up To Racism.

 

1. APARTHEID FLAG OF ISRAEL 

 

Putting Anti-racism and Anti-imperialism in Separate Compartments

The SWP’s popular frontism in action

Below is a statement which has been issued by the Secretary of Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign.  We, like many Palestinian supporters have been dismayed at the stance of the Scottish SUTR to allow supporters of Israel, the Confederation of Friends of Israel, to take part in Saturday’s anti-racist march in Glasgow, along with the flag of Israel. Continue reading “SCOTTISH STAND UP TO RACISM BOWS TO ZIONIST PRESSURE”

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Mar 07 2018

SCOTLAND’S RATIFICATION REFERENDUM

Below is a leaflet from the ad-hoc Committee of Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party being distributed at the Radical Independence Campaign’s Spring Conference in Edinburgh on March 10th.

Location of Dalmeny Declaration – Out of the Blue Centre, Dalmeny Street, Leith

 

SCOTLAND’S RATIFICATION REFERENDUM

The Scottish Ratification Referendum Act 2018 empowers the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on Thursday 6 February 2019 for all Scottish and EU citizens living in Scotland over sixteen years old. The people of Scotland will be asked:

Do you support the agreement between Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union?

Do you reject the agreement between Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union?

Why should Scotland have the right to vote on Tory Brexit? Continue reading “SCOTLAND’S RATIFICATION REFERENDUM”

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Feb 25 2018

THE RED AND THE GREEN: A PORTRAIT OF JOHN MACLEAN

Gerry Cairns has published a new book,  The Red and the Green: A Portrait of John Maclean. This makes use of new material relating to Maclean’s relationship with the struggle in Ireland. Stevie Coyle posted the following review on Facebook, and there is an edited version in February’s  Irish Voice. Hopefully this informative review will be just  the first review to address the issues that Gerry has raised.

THE RED AND THE GREEN: A PORTRAIT OF JOHN MACLEAN

Members of the Irish community were among those present at the launch of Gerard Cairn’s biography of John Maclean titled The Red and the Green: A Portrait of John Maclean.

The event – organised by Glasgow’s radical bookshop Calton Books and held in McChuills Bar – saw the author demonstrate a passion for his subject and gave an intriguing insight into Maclean the man and the revolutionary, which he interspersed with humour. Continue reading “THE RED AND THE GREEN: A PORTRAIT OF JOHN MACLEAN”

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Feb 25 2018

COWIE MINERS, POLMAISE COLLIERY AND THE 1984-85 MINERS’ STRIKE

Dave Douglass reviews Steve McGrail and Vicky Patterson’s Cowie miners, Polmaise colliery and the 1984-85 miners’ strike. 

 

COWIE MINERS, POLMAISE COLLIERY AND THE 1984-85 MINERS’ STRIKE

Great Strike of 1984-85: an unequal battle

Polmaise was at the epicentre of the Scottish miners’ action in 1984. Like Cortonwood it was among ‘the first of the first’ to be threatened and pick up the gauntlet – the ‘single sparks’ that lit that prairie fire.

The struggle at Polmaise had started in February 84, and for those men and their families it ended 13 months later. The new, ‘get tough’ management style introduced into the Scottish and other coalfields prior to the Great Strike was a deliberate policy to prematurely kick-start the all-out action and break our long-term overtime ban strategy, which was relentlessly reducing stocks of coal at pitheads and power stations. There had been controversial closures in 1982 and 83, and half of Scottish mines were already engaged in forms of action around various disputes by February 84. Polmaise itself was out over the threatened closure of the pit. Continue reading “COWIE MINERS, POLMAISE COLLIERY AND THE 1984-85 MINERS’ STRIKE”

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Feb 22 2018

MAJOR VICTORY FOR THE 94 UKRAINIAN MINERS FACING COURT FOR PROTESTING

In a follow up to an earlier posting, we are pleased to be able to report a victory for Ukrainian miners. This article was first posted at the Ukriainian Solidarity Campaign website at:- https://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org/2018/02/21/major-victory-for-the-94-ukrainian-miners-facing-court-for-protesting/

 

MAJOR VICTORY FOR THE 94 UKRAINIAN MINERS FACING COURT FOR PROTESTING

 

The Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine  has secured a major victory for the 94 miner facing court proceedings.   The miners at the uranium mine “Ingulska” were facing court after protesting for months of unpaid wages. Continue reading “MAJOR VICTORY FOR THE 94 UKRAINIAN MINERS FACING COURT FOR PROTESTING”

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Dec 10 2017

BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE THREATENS WORKERS IN THE NORTH

Bombardier is a Canadian owned aircraft company which employs 4000 people in Belfast. At the moment these workers’ jobs, pay and conditions  are threatened as an outcome  of growing American protectionism, reflected through the Northern Irish political set-up, which hamstrings any effective trade union response. This consequences of this are explained in this article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) 

 

BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE THREATENS WORKERS IN NORTH

 

Bombardier aerospace factory Belfast

 

The ongoing dispute between aerospace companies Bombardier and Boeing – which has raised fears over future of production at Bombardier’s Belfast facility – has served to highlight the highly integrated nature of modern capitalism and the exposure of the Northern Ireland economy to global upheavals. Continue reading “BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE THREATENS WORKERS IN THE NORTH”

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Nov 22 2017

RCN COMRADELY CONDUCT POLICY

In line with the RCN becoming a forum where the principles of communism, republicanism and internationalism from below can be discussed and debated, the RCN meeting, held in Glasgow on November 18th, agreed to this simplified our Comradely Conduct Policy.

 

Anyone attending an RCN meeting or event is expected to act in a comradely manner toward each other. We encourage robust  discussion but any personal or discriminatory remarks will not be  tolerated.

It is the responsibility of everyone to raise, and if they feel able  challenge, any uncomradely behaviour. This should not be left to those on the receiving end.

Any concerns at or outwith a meeting should be brought to the attention of the chair, or another office holder if appropriate (for example , where the chair is involved).

The chair will then attempt to resolve the issue with these comrades and place the dispute on the agenda for the next meeting.  If still unresolved, the meeting will hear from those involved and agree a way forward.”

 

Also see:-

 

NEW RCN STATEMENT

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Nov 13 2017

Review: Struggle or Starve: Working Class Unity in Belfast’s Outdoor Relief Riots

Tommy McKearney reviews Struggle or Starve: Working Class Unity in Belfast’s Outdoor Relief Riots

by Sean Mitchell.

 

 

 STRUGGLE OR STARVE: WORKING CLASS UNITY IN BELFAST’S OUTDOOR RELIEF RIOTS 

Struggle or Starve by Séan Mitchell is an important book that deserves the widest readership among those interested in promoting progressive politics in the North of Ireland. The author provides the reader with a detailed, and even inspirational, account of a rare period in Belfast’s history when the working class was united around a campaign to address matters of immediate need. More than that, through, his analysisraises questions about events of that period which still have relevance today. How possible is it to overcome sectarianism through shared struggle and can this be done within the context of a political unit as fundamentally flawed as Northern Ireland? Continue reading “Review: Struggle or Starve: Working Class Unity in Belfast’s Outdoor Relief Riots”

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