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Working Class Political Theory – Haringey Bin Strike Post Mortem

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Aug 23 2006 23:32
Working Class Political Theory – Haringey Bin Strike Post Mortem

Hi

Well the strike is over and as far as I can see, they’ve got a worse deal than they started with. It wasn’t strategically the right thing to do to go on strike in the first place, but the left has no other tactic up its sleeve.

Everyone with an ounce of sense saw this coming, but we buried our pessimism and acted as cheerleaders throughout the campaign. No doubt, the various flavours of left libertarian will join in with the empty Trotskyite cliché of “The Union Sold Us Out” in order to avoid being seen to add further to the cynicism and disillusion.

Next time, will we cast a more critical eye over likely outcomes or call “Everybody Out!” again like 70’s sitcom “The Rag Trade”?…


Love

LR

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jef costello
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Aug 23 2006 23:38

Well they went on stirke in protest at the loss of two trucks and two crews. They were offered a £1400 bonus to accept this.
By striking they won one of the crews a reprieve. I don't kno if they got strike pay or if the £1400 bonus was still paid. It's hard to say, we're short on information.

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 23 2006 23:46

Hi

Wrong Jef. There was never any question of job losses, at least not officially. It was the number of trucks deployed that was the issue. They were taking two off the road and offering £1450, now they're taking one off the road and offering £650 for anyone who clears up the backlog of rubbish in double quick time.

So the "health and safety" principle is really as bad as ever, may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, plus they’ve lost pay for not being at work, plus they’ve lost their bonus. Apparently the £650 won’t even cover lost pay.

Love

LR

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Aug 23 2006 23:47

Well if you're right they lost. At first I thought the loss of two trucks was not linked to job cuts but my local newspaper begs to differ.
If they wanted to win they needed to ask for strike pay.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Aug 23 2006 23:54

Hi

Jef, no one's been paid Strike Pay since the 70's. Did you not see all of this coming? The union called them out on a flimsy strike with no leverage so that a few lefties could advance their political careers. Simple as. I tell you, if MI5 had hired the agitators to deliberately discredit “the left” and disillusion the rank-and-file, they wouldn’t have done a better job.

And this is they way of most industrial action I can remember, set piece strikes and sixth form debating society levels of analysis and strategy. It’s got us nowhere so far and will get us nowhere in the future. Next time, we either try something new or the same thing will happen. Over and over again. Forever.

Love

LR

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Aug 24 2006 06:55

This wasn't a set piece strike, it was indefinite for a start. I see what you mean but I can't see what else they could do. I suppose more militant picketing but there were a total of 40 odd workers when they finally voted to go back to work, probably not enough to manage a militant picket, especially over time.

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the button
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Aug 24 2006 08:35
Lazy Riser wrote:
Jef, no one's been paid Strike Pay since the 70's.

I got strike pay during a pay dispute in (errrr.....) the mid-90s. Carry on. smile

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Steven.
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Aug 24 2006 09:01
jef costello wrote:
Well if you're right they lost. At first I thought the loss of two trucks was not linked to job cuts but my local newspaper begs to differ.

As would anyone with any sense. Lazy, it was a minor success, I'm sure they didn't expect to win on everything, hardy anyone ever does; they negotiated a compromise which was slightly better than the previous one.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
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Aug 24 2006 09:27
John. wrote:
As would anyone with any sense.

That's a bit harsh.

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Steven.
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Aug 24 2006 10:22
jef costello wrote:
John. wrote:
As would anyone with any sense.

That's a bit harsh.

Sorry I didn't mean it to be. But I'm sure Lazy would realise that as well. I mean with fewer trucks would they just leave the workers at the depot doing nothing?

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Aug 24 2006 13:45

Hi

Lazy Riser wrote:
no one's been paid Strike Pay since the 70's.

the button wrote:
I got strike pay during a pay dispute in (errrr.....) the mid-90s. Carry on.

It was an exaggeration, I cringed as soon as posted it. Cut me some slack, I’m sure you appreciate the general gist. Not even the NUM paid Strike Pay in ’84 and ’85.

Jef Costello wrote:
This wasn't a set piece strike, it was indefinite for a start.

Ok, what do I mean by a “set piece strike”. First the Union has a set of demands that overshoot what they'll accept so they can go through the motions of being negotiated down, then the action of striking itself is more as a protest than the direct application of pressure as the bureaucrats negotiate on workers behalf, then the workers stay out for as long as they feel they can afford to and vote to return to work within the first few offers made by management, even if the offer doesn’t really address what they said they wanted in the first place. It’s a choreographed event, with the Unions and Management as Executive Producer and Director.

Jef Costello wrote:
At first I thought the loss of two trucks was not linked to job cuts but my local newspaper begs to differ.

John. wrote:
As would anyone with any sense.

For sure. All attacks on workers tend towards wage cuts and job insecurity in the end. In order to stage a strike and not get sacked, you need to set out demands. Here, the “cause” was set out as health and safety.

John. wrote:
with fewer trucks would they just leave the workers at the depot doing nothing?

Accord’s plan is the thin-end of very big wedge to up the work tempo and maybe encourage the least productive workers to move-on for a better deal elsewhere.

John. wrote:
Lazy, it was a minor success, I'm sure they didn't expect to win on everything, hardy anyone ever does; they negotiated a compromise which was slightly better than the previous one.

John., this sounds like a project manager trying to save his / her bacon when they fail to deliver on plan and to budget. We can talk up the consequences and try to raise morale all we like, but at some point it stops us from learning from our mistakes and developing more sophisticated and effective techniques for the future.

Here’s some quotes (this from http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=9477, sorry)…

Quote:
Accord also gave the workers a deadline of last Wednesday to accept their original cash bribe of £1,450 to accept the loss of two lorries.

Workers rejected that offer, arguing that the strike was not about money, but about health and safety.

The new deal accepted by the workers does not include the original cash sum. It does include £650 “clean up” money if the workers clear the backlog of rubbish in two weeks.

Several of the workers pointed out that this is less than the money that they lost through being on strike.

Now, we can call it a “limited success” if we like, but a chain of such limited successes have brought us to our current position, an overall decline in our standard of living and conditions of work. I don’t what the solution is, but we need to put our heads together and come up with something new and casting such mediocre outcomes as limited successes isn’t going to help us find the gap between what we’re currently doing and what we need to do to really win.

Love

LR