Saturday 31 January 2009

British left debates whether wildcat strikes are "racist"

The left in Britain has been debating whether the wildcat strike action by construction workers in Britain (see Lessons for NZ left in UK wildcat strike wave) is "racist". The crux of the debate is the attitude that left organisations shoud take to the struggle of these workers, particularly as it's workers' own self activity (not union officials or anyone else) that's driving the strikes. Compare the articles posted on Socialist Unity blog, British socialist Jerry Hicks on refinery disputes and George Galloway backs wildcat strikes, with the statement issued by the British Socialist Workers Party British SWP statement: Why British jobs for British workers is not the solution to the crisis. See also What’s really behind the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike, a statement by a socialist elected onto a strike committee.


Anonymous said...

The lack of Union Leadership in the UK is giving the Far Right and racists a clear field of play.

A huge illegal wildcat strike aimed against migrant workers is being tolerated by the British state and ignored by the Union leaders.

UK union leaders have long used the British anti-strike laws as an excuse to do nothing. (Probably also their slavish alliance to the Labour Government doesn't help either.)

But in the present crisis union leaders must realise that everything has changed.

Now when workers world wide are calling for action against the effects of the crisis. It seems that this policy of passivity is in danger of seeing millions of British workers becoming influenced by the BNP and other militant racist organisations.

The strikes in England are in total contrast to those in France called by the union leadership and targetting the financiers the bankers and particularly the government for their handling of the crisis.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think it's fair to say that the British workers' action is "aimed at migrant workers". To take the attitude that the right thing to do is to go to the picket lines and lecture workers - as the SWP leadership are suggesting - is a chemically pure definition of sectarianism.

If the commenter above is correct, and British workers are taking illegal solidarity strike action over an essentially racist demand, then the British working class are pretty much a lost cause and fascism must be right around the corner. If, on the other hand, the essence of the strike is against the exploitative gang-masters rather than a "send 'em home" message, then this is an opportunity such as the left in Britain has supposedly been waiting 35 years for.

It's becoming clear exactly which "socialists" are in favour of the self-activity and self-emancipation of the workers, and which only see them in terms of manpower for campaigns and movements dreamt up by a self-declared leadership of academic Marxists.

Anonymous said...

If a shop steward takes a legal vote from the floor of a workers meeting demanding some form of action ,and in this case strike action surely the Union,through their legitamate representative the shop steward is bound by its rules to adhere to said motion. The exact motion i have not seen, however i would assume it to be against their employer rather than imigrant workers.As usual the left and Unions,are in disagreement with one another while the true villian the exploytive employer capitalist class has their way yet again.Its time to wake up dump the philisophical diffrences and work together for the betterment of the workers and the disenfranchised within our community.Never before has the exploytive capitalist class been under such stress as it is now, and now is the time for the left its orginisations to rise to the challenge.