Phil's blog

The need for a labour movement that can defy the law

The Public and Commercial Services Union has responded to threats of legal action by removing one section of its membership from the strike action due to take place on the 5 and 8 April. This shows the limits of legal trade unionism. It also underlines the urgent need for strong rank-and-file movements in the UK.

An injury to one – fighting the victimisation of workplace organisers

Victimisation, by bosses and the state, of those who try to organise in the workplace is nothing new. But recently a spate of high profile cases have focused wider attention on the issue.

The “war on the unions” - its meaning and the response we need

Stories about the government threatening a “crack down” on trade union power emerge almost on a loop. Particularly in times of heightened class antagonism. But far from showing the unions as threats to society, such threats are a demand that the unions tighten up their role in policing class conflict.

“The real enemy?” Why we should reject left unity as a concept

A number of pieces have been written recently on “unity” amongst the left and the ways we can achieve that. What follows are the reasons I reject left unity as a notion and the kind of real unity that the workers' movement needs – and, to a large extent, already has.

Unity and solidarity with claimants should be practical, not just theoretical

With attacks on claimants and the unemployed escalating, campaigners and trade unions have made numerous calls for “unity” between workers and the unemployed. But too often, this “unity” is a purely theoretical one. How can we go beyond words to build a practical basis for solidarity across our entire class?

Civil Service Rank & File Network conference - a report

On Saturday 2 February, the Civil Service Rank & File (CSRF) Network held its inaugural national conference in Coventry. This is a brief report of the event and analysis of where the group is and should be heading.

On prisons, screws – and their unions

An attempt to sketch out my attitude as an anarchist towards the prison system. Why do we oppose them? Why does our solidarity go to the jailed over their jailers? How do we view the role of trade unions such as the Prison Officers Association?

A post-mortem on the workplace committee that never was

A look at my recent experiences organising at work, and in particular how they've been undermined by certain branch officials. How can militant workers respond when rank-and-file action is sabotaged by factionalism and personalities?

Rejecting the compulsory jobs guarantee and the left's work ethic

A look at Labour's compulsory jobs guarantee and the problematic narratives that inform the debate around both it and unemployment in general.

Why no platform is still relevant, and the trouble with liberal "anti-fascism"

Some on the liberal end of the anti-fascist movement have argued that "no platform" is dead and free speech the best antidote to the far-right. This argument rears its head time and time again, but it bears shooting down every time.

Where next in the fight over civil service pay and conditions?

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has announced that it will ballot in the new year for renewed industrial action against government attacks on civil servants and public services. But will this really mark a departure from the stagnant campaign we've seen thus far? What can rank-and-file workers do to push away from the prospect of managed defeat?

A class struggle perspective on the gun control debate

Yesterday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conneticut once again re-ignited the gun control debate. For US liberals, stricter gun regulations are the key to preventing future tragedies. For conservatives, responsible gun ownership and armed citizenry is the best defence. But neither position really gets to the roots of the issue.

Tax justice, austerity and class struggle

The recent furore surrounding Starbucks has once again pushed the issue of tax dodging and its relation to austerity into the limelight. But it has also brought into sharp focus the problem with calls to “pay your tax” being divorced from questions of class struggle.

The trade unions and the "crisis of leadership" narrative

HMRC staff in Coventry during rank-and-file led action on 14 November

The ongoing struggle against austerity have brought into focus the differences between the "left" and "right" of the trade union movement. But they have also shown the inadequacy of the trade union left and the illusions it promotes. So what hope do militant workers in the UK have of going beyond the limitations imposed on us from above?

The beginnings of a rank-and-file rebellion in the Civil Service?

A look at recent developments within the civil service. The government's latest attacks, the response from both the union and ordinary members, and the prospects of workers taking control of their own struggles.

What October 20 tells us about the state of the movement

Saturday October 20 saw the TUC's "Future That Works" march and rally. It was the second biggest demonstration so far against austerity, the belated follow-up to the "March for the Alternative" last year. But what was the point? And where do we go from here?

On rank-and-file action, trade union representation and building confidence

A brief note on why forms of action taken at the behest of trade union structures cannot be equated with rank-and-file led organisation and direct action.

Paedophilia and rape culture

A blog looking at the prevalence of child abuse in our society and how it relates to rape culture.

TRIGGER WARNING FOR CHILD ABUSE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT.

Towards a general strike?

A follow on to my post Lobbying for the limited yet impossible, now that the Trades Union Congress has voted in favour of a motion on calling a general strike.

PCS blinks first in dispute with HM Revenue & Customs

Yesterday, the Public and Commercial Services union announced that strike action due to be taken by HM Revenue & Customs workers on Monday had been suspended. This supposedly followed "significant progress" in negotiations with the employer. The reality is quite different, in a campaign that has been mismanaged (at best) for coming on two years.