The recent decision by Starbucks to attack its workers’ conditions (cutting paid lunch breaks, sick pay and other work benefits) in response to public pressure to pay its tax bill – public pressure partly generated by direct action organisations like UK Uncut – has highlighted ongoing concerns over the effectiveness of “Tax justice” campaigns and their relationship to class struggle organisation.
On October 20 2012, the TUC is hosting another national march and rally in London. Like the one on March 26 last year, it is likely to be a big event. Like then, too, it is likely to be a way for the trade unions to have their members let off steam without being too radical. But it looks like the lessons of last time are being learned, as the TUC is taking pre-emptive steps to avoid a repeat of last year's "trouble."
On the back of a demonstration at Sainsbury's headquarters, Pay Up has recently emerged as the latest UK Uncut-style activist campaign. Its aim is to highlight the problem of "in work poverty" and push for a living wage - starting with Sainsbury's. As someone whose first experience of workplace struggle was in Sainsbury's, this immediately caught my attention. So I decided to have a closer look at the campaign, and its pitfalls.
Arrests of those involved in anti-cuts campaigns, as well as the brutality of the police on recent demonstrations has grabbed the attention of the press. The behaviour of the police has been widely condemned by the left, some of whom accuse them of overstepping the mark with “political policing”. But we should not be surprised by the actions of the police, this is them doing their job and doing it well.