Phil Dickens

Leadership and the myth of apathy

Why aren't we rising up? Whether the 'we' in question is young people, the British people, or the poor, this is a question asked an awful lot by both mainstream and leftist commentators. Austerity, job cuts, pay freezes, workfare, poverty, food banks, police brutality, political corruption - it's all the rage, so why aren't we all enraged?

There are two standard answers on the left: apathy and the lack of leadership. Either people are too engrossed in their own little world of X Factor, I'm a Celebrity and 'I'm alright Jack,' or they just don't have the right hero to lead them into battle. The left wing rabble rousers of the past are dead and gone and we need people to replace them and rally the workers.

Nothing in common: unions as bosses

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary.

Some cursory thoughts on the contradictions created by trade unions, as the collective voice of organised workers, also being employers.

On the 26 March, when the National Union of Teachers was taking strike action, members of the GMB were also out on strike. The reason that this action received less attention, particularly from trade union sources, is that it represented a rather unusual situation.

On union scabbing

Some quick thoughts on the need to respect picket lines and the challenge of the anti-strike laws and multi-union workplaces.

As I detailed all the way back in October, a civil service senior management union has taken a stronger stance over key issues in HM Revenue & Customs than the 'left wing' union PCS.

PCS hangs militant rep out to dry in HP dispute

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka

The Public and Commercial Services Union has in the past year worked to sabotage a dispute between its members at Hewlett Packard and their employer. This has culminated in the betrayal of one of their own reps, John Pearson, after he was unjustly sacked by the company.

PCS is best known as the civil servants’ union, however it has members in various areas of the private sector due to privatisation and outsourcing. This includes workers for Hewlett Packard who before 1995, with several contract transfers in between, were civil servants in the Department for Social Security’s (now the DWP) IT Services Agency.

Background

People died for your right, not your obligation

2014 and 2015 are, in a row, two big years for electoralism. I'm already fed up with it.

This year, there will be a referendum on Scottish Independence. Next year, there will be a UK general election. Both of these events are the source of considerable hope and excitement on the left, because either or both offer the opportunity for change.

Resolutions

General strike!

If there’s one thing, politically, that I want to happen in 2014 it’s for leftists to drop the demand for a 24 hour general strike from above and start building for an all out general strike from below.

First, let’s get this clear: the TUC is not going to call a general strike of any kind.

Dan Hodges, mob mentality and the white working class

Dan Hodges has written an article for the Telegraph, using the horrific murder of Bijan Ebrahimi as an excuse to attack “the dark side of working class Britain.” This is an attempt to address the points he has side-stepped for the benefit of his polemic.

Ebrahimi died when a mob surrounded his house in Brislington one night in July. He was beaten unconscious, dragged from his house and burned alive in his front garden. Two men, Lee James and Stephen Norley, were sentenced very recently for the crime, though it is almost certain that a wider section of the local community was involved.

The Socialist Party have no right to demand one way solidarity from claimants

Following a debate on Twitter, several statements appeared online seeking to defend the PCS union over its position on welfare reform and sanctions. This is a response, particularly aimed at PCS Vice President John McInally’s piece for the Socialist Party.

In writing this I am “helping the Tories,” if the nonsense aimed at Boycott Workfare of late is anything to go by. They raised the question of PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions refusing to sanction claimants, which is apparently highly divisive and has the government rubbing their hands with glee.

Has PCS been outflanked to the left by a bosses’ union?

A look at two of many attacks faced by workers in HM Revenue & Customs. The contrasting responses from clerical grade union PCS and senior grade union ARC are worth noting, but not for the reason you might guess.

Listing all of the ongoing issues and disputes within HMRC at present would be an essay in itself. Suffice to say, there are a lot. In this post I want to talk about two in particular; the imposition of detrimental new terms and conditions for staff and the quotas in the new performance management system which are aimed at making it easier to sack the “bottom 10%” of staff from the job.

On Labour's pledge to axe the bedroom tax

Why the pledge from the Labour Party to axe the Bedroom Tax doesn't mean we've won and, if we take it at face value, could mean that we lose.

The Labour Party has this week vowed to scrap the Bedroom Tax. The announcement, which has dominated headlines as well as a lot of talk on Twitter, comes as Labour prepares to hold its annual conference in Brighton.