With Friends like These...why union bosses fail to protect our interests and what we can do about it

The experience of sacked nurse Karen Reissmann, and the inability of industrial action to achieve her reinstatement, serves as a timely reminder of the shortcomings of today’s unions in their ability, desire and commitment to effectively support workers in struggle. But all is not lost and for the anarcho-syndicalist solution to the tyranny of capitalism and yet more sell-outs, read on!

Despite the tenacity of Karen’s local Unison branch, who remained on strike up until her appeal, the response of the union nationally in promoting solidarity for her cause was pitiful. In fact, the wholly inadequate response from the Unison leadership contributed to the defeat of the strike every bit much as the actions of the Primary Care Trust bosses themselves.

Strikes off, cuts on at universities

The academics’ union UCU at the University of Sussex cancelled industrial action planned for late June after university bosses declared they were “hopeful” they could avoid any compulsory redundancies.

It soon emerged however that compulsory redundancies had been transformed into ‘voluntary’ ones and the number of job losses remained at over 100, with a similarly severe impact on many courses and workloads expected.

One student mocked the management statement: “We are pleased to announce that the 100 have jumped, and were not pushed. The knives to their backs were unrelated.” A lecturer also commented that “I, among many, have been made ‘voluntarily’ redundant, after being selected for compulsory redundancy. The University seems to have got rid of everyone it wanted by forcing us to accept a ‘voluntary’ settlement.”

For Workers Control - Lessons of recent struggles in the UK

8-page leaflet looking at what we can learn from the 2007 postal strike, the 2008 public sector strike and the 2009 Visteon occupation.

The leaflet was produced for a demo against the Labour Party Conference on Sunday 27th September. It is based on several previously published articles and we try to draw the lessons of recent relevant struggles in the UK.

For Workers’ Control

Lessons of recent struggles in the UK

Recent years have seen promising signs of a working class fightback, after decades of attacks on working class living standards.