Workers' Struggles

On 20 September, an open letter from a representative of the Peking University (PKU) Marxist Society (MS) in Beijing, China began circulating on Chinese social media. The letter detailed the significant difficulty that the society faced this month in finding a faculty advisor required to re-register as a recognised student club on the campus.

In early June of this year, the workers of the Chinese welding equipment manufacturer Jasic Technologies in Shenzhen attempted to legally unionise to protect themselves from chronically poor working conditions and brutal treatment by the management.

On Monday 13 August, just as Pakistan’s new parliament were taking oath after the recent elections, fourteen workers died in a coal mine near Quetta. The miners were trapped by a gas explosion inside the mine on Sunday.

Along with the renewed discussion in Britain around renationalisation (a policy promised by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn), the idea of workers’ control and workers’ management has re-emerged. Indeed, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said that renationalised companies should not be run like they were in the past, but should instead be run under workers’ control.

In the latest episode of IMTV – the International Marxist Television channel, hosted by our British section, Socialist Appeal– our guests look back over a busy year for student and labour activists on UK campuses. Earlier this year we saw the largest ever strike by academic staff in the University and Colleges Union (UCU), who took action over cuts to pensions.

随着中国共产党在国际舞台上表现越发得自信,中国的工人阶级也开始对资本主义残酷的现实表现不满。从五月开始,卡车司机、送餐工人和吊车司机举行了三起高曝光率的全国范围的罢工行动。这些罢工的规模,虽然跟整个工人阶级相比较还算是小的,但是工人在多个重点城市联合组织的能力展示了阶级的一层正被推向更深的抗争。

As the Chinese Communist Party acts more confidently on the international stage than ever before, the Chinese working class is starting to chafe against the harsh realities of capitalism. Since May, there have been three high-profile, cross-country strikes started by crane operators, fast food delivery workers, and most recently truckers. Although the strikes were small in relation to the general working class, the workers’ ability to organize across several major cities indicates that a layer of the Chinese working class is being pushed into struggle.

Three months of strike by lecturers and teaching assistants at York University has created a deep crisis at the institution. Most classes during the winter term were not in session, and now the summer term has been shortened and course offerings heavily cut down. This is no surprise as most of the teaching at the university is done by striking members of CUPE 3903.

50 years ago, women at the Dagenham Ford Factory began a strike that became a turning point in the fight for equality. It was not the first such strike, and it would certainly not be the last. However, by standing up against bosses, union officials, and even other workers, they would send a message that has stood the test of time and inspires still.

On the occasion of May Day we republish the following leaflet written by Lenin in 1904, when Russia was about to enter a period of revolutionary turmoil. In it, Lenin calls on the workers and peasants to unite, overthrow the blood-sucking aristocrats, bankers and landowners, and take full ownership of all that labour creates. The message still holds true today. Long live worker solidarity! Happy May Day!

SAFTU’s general strike on Wednesday was a serious warning to the government and the capitalist class. It was part of a sharp intensification of industrial action by workers in big sectors of the economy. The attacks on the working class are preparing a backlash and an upsurge of the class struggle.

Teachers are on the move around the United States. By shutting down schools in every county in the state of West Virginia—even defying anti-strike laws that prohibit public sector employees from taking such action—teachers and other education workers have provided an exemplary lesson in class struggle for the labour movement to follow. Their inspiring victory has now set off similar actions in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and other parts of the country.

Across the country, workers are mobilising for a mass general strike on 25 April. Although all sectors of the economy are likely to be affected, the strike is expected to hit municipal services, transport, manufacturing, mining, construction and the public sector particularly hard. The government’s determination to continue with the legislative process on proposed changes to the labour law is preparing the ground for a confrontation with the unions.

The railway workers' strike has encouraged other sections of the working class (and also the students) to mobilise. Refuse collectors, Air France workers, civil servants, lawyers, postal workers, hospital workers and care workers assisting the elderly (among others) are gearing up for action, and every day new layers are joining the fight. The ‘convergence of struggles’ is no longer just a slogan; it has become a fact.

A new Pashtun movement has erupted in Pakistan, mobilizing hundreds-of-thousands of people across the country, with tens-of-thousands attending its public meetings. The state apparatus and the entire ruling class, including all establishment political parties, are trembling at the sight of this huge movement, which originated from the most backward areas of the country – where it was least expected.

The latest issue of Révolution (French organ of the IMT) will be published in the wake of a social movement that could mark a turning point in the correlation of forces between our camp (the youth and workers) and the bosses, of which Macron’s government is the executive body. A rail strike, starting from 3 April, will be the focal point of the struggle. But, both for us and for our enemies, the significance of this strike goes beyond the fate of the SNCF [Société nationale des chemins de fer français: France’s national state-owned railway company] and its employees.

On 4 April, public sector workers in Denmark will be taking strike action in response to negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. The government has reacted by threatening 440,000 public sector workers (of a total 825,000) with lockouts, which could take effect any time from 10 April. This could result in the biggest class conflict in 20 years. The impending confrontation bears major historical significance, because it marks the beginning of the end of 'class peace' and 'social partnership' in Denmark.

For weeks pensioners have been protesting across the Spanish state against the government’s decision to increase state pensions by a paltry 0.25 percent (against a 1.6 percent inflation rate). The largely spontaneous movement has been growing and is now calling on other sectors of society to join in mass demonstrations on Saturday, 17 March.

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