Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label class struggle

The world class struggle

Is there a commonality between the Spanish Indigados, the Occupy Movement, hosts of other social protests from Israel to Greece, and now showing itself in Turkey and Brasil?

The current economic and social crisis is certainly a deep one and is driving capitalist states and capitalist companies towards some desperate measures to try and stabilise the system and restore (and where possible) increase real profit levels. But this is not to assume that particular capitalist governments or companies are stuck with only one set of inflexible policies. The problem is that isolated struggles by workers in the context of intense capitalist competition will give the capitalists more abillity to offload any gains made by one sector onto other workers The generalisation of struggle will make that harder for them to achieve this and can potentially push back the austerity measures accross a wider front at least on a temporary basis.

Alexander Berkman, the author of the ABC of Anarchism, put it &qu…

We need the union

You cannot be a union man, 
No matter how you try,
Unless you think in terms of “we”
Instead of terms of “I”

Faced with austerity and wage cuts workers, more than ever, need unions that are prepared to fight to defend living standards. The boss doesn’t give up his profits, interests and dividends or bonuses in a recession.  He only demands that the workers give up their wages so that his profits, interests and dividends will be bigger. This is what is known as everyone sacrificing for the “national interest.” Workers soon learns that if they are by themselves , not in an organisation, they will be utterly helpless victims of capitalist greed. If the employer, especially the more powerful employer in the big industries, is able to deal with each worker separately, he can set almost any wage and working standard he pleases. If each worker offers himself singly on the labor market, he soon finds that other workers, especially when there is a large surplus of unemployed, will “underbid” him …

A Declaration of Class War

Socialists are always accused of trying to set class against class. We plead guilty but we actually only point out what already exists. We are engaged today in a class war; and why? For the simple reason that in the the capitalist system in which we live, society has been is mainly divided into two economic classes—a small class of capitalists who own the means of producing wealth and a great mass of workers who own nothing and are compelled to seek employment in the services of the owners. Between these two classes there is an irrepressible economic conflict. The capitalist is the economic master and the political ruler in capitalist society. But we also want to get rid of the class struggle. We’re going to do it by getting rid of the profit system which exists only because there is a class of squeezers and a class of the squeezed.


All government is class government; and that the industrialist and aristocratic thieves hold the reins of political power. The employers know that class…

Growing Consciousness

Capitalism has become an obsolete oppressive system that ought to be got rid off but the old social order won’t simply disappear of its own accord. Its removal is dependent upon its replacement by socialism. Capitalism itself created the possibility and the necessity of socialism as well as creating the class capable of introducing socialism, the working class. There was no doubt in the minds of pioneers of socialism as to the future. They recognised the slave condition of the workers in capitalism and had faith in the worker’s power and capacity to abolish the slavery and build a new society of free people in a classless society. A relatively small minority recognise this as most people continued trying to satisfy their needs within the system rather than by overthrowing it.
"The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority," Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto.

"Self-con…

Ye are many-- they are few

We were sold a dream of a fictitious caring, sharing Welfare State. We were told that if we studied and worked hard we would be promised a well-paid job which would be enough to pay for a comfortable home to raise a family. Workers have been finding out that this was all a lie. The question now is what happens next.

We have had all the failed palliatives meant to patch up the flaws and faults of the system. We have had New Deals, Old Deals and Raw Deals in abundance. But although things could get worse, we shouldn’t completely despair. Social change is happening. The stories of the poor and the nearly poor, and the hardships they endure, are now being told. The anti-austerity and Occupy protests have introduced (or more accurately re-introduced) resistance, challenging the centres of power and calling for the re-building of society. Trade unions are once again discovering their back-bone and asserting their industrial muscle. Everything is in motion and we ourselves are that movemen…

Understanding class

There are two classes in society - the one possessing wealth and owning the means of its production, the other making the wealth by using those tools and technology but only with the permission and only for the benefit of the possessors. These two classes are necessarily in opposition to one another. We have before us today, in capitalist society, masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited but to put it more bluntly, robbers and the robbed. Two economic forces whose interests ceaselessly clash, are pitted against each other. These two classes can never be reconciled and it is this that we call the class struggle. Workers, be they “white” or “blue” collar, skilled or unskilled, because they are workers, cannot survive except by selling their labouring power. Yet were it not for the working class, the whole social fabric would collapse in an instant. It is they who do the useful work. It is they who produce the wealth.

The Real Union Question

Have no illusions about the role of governments, the police or the law - the defence of capitalism and exploitation is the main function of the capitalist state.

Both Marx and Engels advised the workers to unite in trade unions and fight for improved wages and shorter hours. In these struggles, victories would be won. The workers could wring concessions out of the capitalists. “Now and then”, the Communist Manifesto explained “the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers.”

The hand-to-mouth existence of the workers has never made it easy to strike for higher wages and better working conditions. The employers can recuperate lost profits, the workers’ lost wages cannot. As long as the capitalist system exists, the bosses will always try to take back what they have been forced to concede. They will continually try to step up the exploitation of the working class in orde…

Transcending the trade union struggle

The working class are as our Chartist forefathers were not afraid to call it, a class of wages slaves. Yet today we are less preoccupied with the abolition of the wages system than ever. Reformists attempt to mollify inhuman social relations whilst preserving them intact. The old cry for a fair day’s pay echoes repeatedly time and time again. The essence of working-class enslavement is not impoverishment. Whether a worker’s wages be high or low his existence is imposed. It is necessary to abolish the basic condition of modern exploitation, wage slavery.


The old conceptions in the labour movement have become faulty and inadequate and working class organisations offer indecision and confusion, and are reduced to impotence.

Karl Marx counseled the working class many years ago that “they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘abolition of the wages system.’ ”

When we fight for a demand like a wage increase, we are merely fighting against the effects of capitali…

The Socialists' Message

The word “socialism” is commonly used as a political trick. Various Labour Parties are called “socialist” and it is suggested that countries with large welfare state systems are socialist and that nationalised industries are socialist. There has been a persistent tendency to define the idea of socialism to as a mere legal alteration of the property system and the introduction of some sort of planned economy.


When production is for the requirements of the community and when production is for use and not for profit of a minority, this is the basis of socialism. This socialist commonwealth liberates the individual from all economic, political and social oppression and provides for real liberty and for the full and harmonious development of the personality, giving full scope for the growth of the creative faculties of the mind. Based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution it dissolves the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving …

We are the Power

The capitalists are the upper class-because they are always on our backs; if they were not on our backs they would not be above us. In capitalist society the worker is not a person or an individual at all. He or she is simply merchandise, a commodity. The very terminology of the capitalist system proves it. Go to any factory or office and there will exist a department called “human resources”.

Capitalism is a society divided into two economic classes: a relatively small class of capitalists who own the machinery they did not make and cannot use, and the vast numbers of workers who did make the tools and machines and who do use them, (and whose very lives depend upon using them), yet who do not own them. Every cog in every wheel that revolves everywhere has been made by the working class, and is kept in operation by the working class; and if the working class can make and operate this marvelous wealth-producing machinery. These millions of wage-workers, producers of wealth, are forced…

The class struggle

The strike has long been labour's most powerful weapon. Strikes put pressure on the employer - which needs the employees' labour to run the business - to agree to employees' demands for fair wages and working conditions. Strikes are also a public form of expression. Seeing picket lines in front of a workplace sends a message to the employer, to the public and to the workers themselves. It says that the workers stand together to fight for decent working conditions and that their dispute with the employer is so important that they are willing to lose pay to fight for a fair workplace. It tells the public and other workers that they might not want to patronise, or work for, the employer unless changes are made. Strikes build solidarity among the workers and help them maintain their resolve under the severe pressure of losing income while on strike. Strikes are also an expression of control by the workers, who may feel that the employer treats them as if they were nothing mor…

A re-newed class struggle

The capitalist logic says, “The economy is in a recession and the figures are all down this year. We’re all in it together and we all must tighten our belts” But the majority knows that this shared sacrifice is nonsense even if we don’t have the statistics. The company directors’ have been awarding themselves massive pay rises, the gap between rich and poor is getting wider and the tax evasion of the wealthy is becoming only too well-known. There is a general climate of anger and a feeling that we should take action.


Too often the left propose all sorts of ineffective options mostly on the basis that “the workers aren’t up for it” or “everyone is scared,” or even “we aren’t sure we can win.” But when people don’t seem up for it, it’s because they aren’t stupid and they aren’t up for ineffective action. Workers need to understand their union and their fight. Unions must present the truth. If it’ll take a six-month struggle to win, unions have to say so. Don’t patronizse; educate. Don…

class war in India

India factory workers in revolt and kill company president. Workers at the Regency Ceramics factory in India raided the home of their boss, and beat him senseless with lead pipes after a wage dispute turned ugly. The workers were enraged enough to kill Regency’s president K. C. Chandrashekhar after their union leader, M. Murali Mohan, was killed by baton-wielding riot police. Once news of Murali’s death spread, the factory workers destroyed 50 company cars, buses and trucks and lit them on fire. They ransacked the factory. The workers had been calling for higher pay and reinstatement of previously laid off workers since October. India’s factory workers are the lowest paid within the big four emerging markets. Per capita income in India is under $4,000 a year, making it the poorest country in the BRICs despite its relatively booming economy.http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2012/01/27/india-factory-workers-revolt-kill-company-president/


workers defy management

Workers at Scottish Water have rejected a pay freeze. The GMB union said there were fears the ground was being laid for a wage freeze which could last for five years.

“Members resent the fact that five directors will share a bonus pot of £90,000 each while they are being asked to accept a pay freeze.”Richard Leonard, the GMB organiser for Scottish Water said.

The union's membership had rejected the pay freeze offer, which came with a one-off payment of £250 for employees earning less than £21,000, by a margin of 62 to 38 per cent. Strike action could see key employees such as emergency call-out staff and water sewage treatments workers staying away from work during the winter.

Cameron threatens the unions

In his first television interview of the year, Cameron, facing a possible spring of discontent as unions consider co-ordinating strikes against public-sector cuts, sent a tough message against any militant action. "Striking is not going to achieve anything and the trade unions need to know they are not going to be able to push anyone around by holding this strike or that strike or even a whole lot of strikes together – they can forget it,” he declared.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union countered: “If David Cameron thinks he can batter working people into the dirt through his undiluted brand of fiscal fascism, then he’s got another think coming.” He added: “Millionaire public schoolboys, who are insulated from the lives of working people taking the daily hit of VAT increases and spending cuts, are in no position to tell the unions what we should and should not be doing to defend our members.”

Grahame Smith, the STUC general secretary Cameron was deliberately raising the …

ethical exploitation

The "ethical" fish restaurant group, Loch Fyne, pays staff salaries below the minimum wage . Loch Fyne champions marine conservation, and proclaims a corporate philosophy of "an enterprise with respect for animals, people and ecology." according to the BBC
It relies on customer tips to boost total pay to a lawful level . Staff at Loch Fyne Restaurants say they are on a salary of £5.05 an hour, compared with the legal minimum wage of £5.52. The Unite union called the company's behaviour "appalling", and said all restaurant staff should be on a minimum wage salary, as well as getting a fair share of tips. Restaurants are legally allowed to include tips in the calculation of employees earnings, but the practice has been criticised as unethical.
The BBC also revealed that salaries at the Hard Rock Cafe in London were less than half the minimum wage, with waiters on £2.06 an hour

The police and the class war

Scotland's rank and file police are to call for the right to strike, currently denied them by law.
Members of the Scottish Police Federation , representing ranks up to chief constable, will debate the issue at their annual conference.

Police are prohibited by law from striking. The nearest they came to industrial action was a demonstration last year when 22,000 off-duty officers south of the Border protested over the pay deal they had been given. Many officers believe not being able to strike means they enter pay negotiations at a disadvantage and there is an increasing feeling within the federation that pay levels have been slipping.

Charity doesn't begin at home

Staff at Shelter Scotland went on strike yesterday for the first time in the homeless charity's history in protest over pay and conditions. Offices around the country were closed as more than 100 workers and their supporters gathered at a rally in Glasgow to voice their opposition to new employment contracts.

The union Unite said that a proposed extension of staff hours would see employees working an extra three weeks a year without pay.Workers are also opposed to plans to downgrade 40 posts across Shelter's UK services, including four at Shelter Scotland, and to make up to five staff redundant. Unite said the walkout, following the breakdown of earlier talks, would be repeated on Monday unless management was prepared to negotiate a new offer. The prospect of a resolution looked unlikely, however, as Shelter's UK head warned that if the current offer was refused, up to 200 of its 850 staff UK-wide could lose their jobs.

Scotland's Slaves

Some migrant workers in Scotland are being treated like "modern day slaves", according to campaigners being reported by the BBC . Promises of good accommodation and pay quickly disappear when they arrive in Scotland.

Two Polish workers told BBC Scotland that after two weeks of labour they actually owed the farmer money.

The Prague Post reports that the life many migrant workers find in Scotland is not what they had envisioned. They are frequently abused and coerced into accepting illegal working conditions, said Beth Herzfeld of Anti-Slavery International.
The most common form of abuse is debt-bondage. This is the illegal practice of paying an employer up-front for work, rent and food . Sometimes said, it takes workers six weeks to repay these debts, and then they are fired. This is a common “trick” employers use to leech money from vulnerable workers explains Paul Millar , the Czech honorary consul in Scotland .
According to Herzfeld, debt-bondage is one of the tactics used …

Deaths increase at work

The number of people killed at work has risen to its highest level in five years, according to official figures released today by the Health and Safety Commission .
The figures show that 241 people died in the United Kingdom in the last financial year compared to 217 the previous year.
The largest number of fatalities was on building sites where 77 people were killed - up 31%.

Other high-fatality jobs are in agriculture, waste and recycling where there are large numbers of non-unionised, vulnerable labour, including many migrant workers.

Health and Safety Commission staff and inspectors have been cut by 1,000 .

Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, said:
"...ministers have refused to place a specific legal duty for health and safety on company directors, and, with less money than ever at its disposal, the HSE has had to cut its staff, including the number of its safety inspectors."