WSM leaflet for the march against the governments handling of the economic crisis

86 posts / 0 new
Last post
Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Feb 23 2009 20:33
WSM leaflet for the march against the governments handling of the economic crisis
WSM wrote:
We didn’t cause the Crisis. We shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Workers in Ireland are under attack. We are told by politicians that we have to ‘share the pain’. But during the years of the Celtic Tiger, they didn’t suggest that we should ‘share the wealth’. Obscene amounts of money have been made by property developers and bankers in recent years. But now we’re being made to pay for the crisis.

Marching Is Not Enough - Strike Action Now
We don’t have to accept this. We have the power to force a change of policy. A campaign of strike action when we use our trade union muscle to shut down our workplaces will show our strength and show that we mean business.

As soon as possible we need a unified day of strike action across the entire public sector to demand withdrawal of this pay cut. One day of strike action is unlikely to be enough to force a change of government policy. So this needs to be followed up with an ongoing campaign of strike action. For instance this could consist of one day’s action across the public sector one week, followed by two days the following week, three days the week after.

Whatever we choose to do, we need to discuss and work out a strategy to win. Trade union leaders have sold us the myth of ‘social partnership’ for more than 20 years. But we need to build a new sense of partnership and solidarity whereby workers across all unions support each other to build this successful action.

The government will be happy enough if all we do is have protest marches and issue angry press statements. Let’s take the next step. We can win.

Where can the money come from?
They say there is no money, how about the following:
The richest 1% own €100 billion(1)
€8 billion given in property tax incentives
€103 million given to private schools every year
€8 billion in tax breaks for building private hospitals
€9.5 billion of potential gas reserves given to Shell in Rossport

Fighting Back
Strike action is the way for us to show the government we are serious. That strike action needs to be built across the public sector and in solidarity with private sector workers whose jobs and conditions are under attack.

That solidarity needs to be built at grassroots level. We cannot trust the leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. When they went into talks with the government on the ‘Framework Agreement’, they accepted the need for cuts. At a meeting of public service trade unionists last weekend it emerged that it was ICTU themselves who proposed the ‘pension levy’. When the government proposed a pay cut of 10%, the ICTU delegation proposed the ‘pension levy’ as being more sellable. (2)

These people cannot be trusted. Taking back control of OUR unions is part and parcel of the fight to protect what we have won over the years.

Capitalism is failing us. Anarchism is fighting back
Capitalism is yet again dragging us all into a crisis not of our making. This crisis is deep and the recession is likely to last for several years. But this is nothing new. Capitalism is and has always been unstable.

This leaflet is produced by Workers Solidarity Movement, a group of anarchists in Ireland who are involved in our trade unions and community organisations in helping to organise a fightback and in discussing how we can begin to build a new society.

If you want to find out more about real alternatives why not visit our website http://www.wsm.ie or come along to the meeting advertised below and join in that discussion.

(1) Bank of Ireland ‘Wealth of the Nation’ Report, July 2007
(2) For the full details on this see http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91139

Organising The Fightback

As part of the 4th annual Dublin Anarchist Bookfair, WSM hosts a discussion on how workers should respond to the government attacks on us. Speakers will include a Waterford Crystal worker, Denis Keane (Executive member Civil and Public Services Union), Julian Brophy (Free Education for Everyone) - all in personal capacity - and a speaker from Workers Solidarity Movement.
Liberty Hall, Dublin, 3p.m. Saturday 7th March
The Dublin Anarchist Bookfair is a day of bookstalls, workshops and discussions. For full details see http://www.wsm.ie/bookfair

Is it just me, or is there something missing?

Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Feb 23 2009 20:59

Well, as is the form for the WSM this sounds like an empty 'transitional demand' to 'reclaim' the Trades Unions. Organise! pointed out at the last Belfast Anarchist Bookfair that "reclaiming the Unions" was not a worthwhile strategy. Fair enough they call for strike action and voice distrust of the leadership of ICTU but the strike action being demanded is still demanded within the confines of the Trades Union structure, albeit at 'grassroots' level. But if its really about "taking control of OUR unions" meaning the ICTU affiliated Trades Unions and Amalgamateds (a futile act in itself) as opposed to building meaningful solidarity and workers control of their own struggles then what should we expect really?

Also,

Quote:
a group of anarchists in Ireland who are involved in our trade unions and community organisations in helping to organise a fightback and in discussing how we can begin to build a new society

is a bit weak to say the least, no? I mean helping to organise a fightback, okay (except it sounds just like all the usual trot shite really) but the second half of that gives the impression of a group of anarchos chilling and philosphising about possible futures over a few beers while the leaflet says nothing about workers control or libertarian communism or indeed the need to overthrow capitalism and the state. Let alone provide any indication of how we might start to do that.

I realise its 'just' a leaflet but still, the leadership of ideas seems awfully bereft of them lately.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 23 2009 23:57

Is it just me, or does the tone of the leaflet sort of suggest that the happening of this mass strike action is just a given....like 'if we build it they will come'?

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 00:04

To be fair to them, while I don't think it's a particularly strong leaflet, it's reasonable enough for people on the ground to assume that mass strike action is on the agenda. Even some of the more quiescent unions are being pushed into balloting by pressure from below.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 14:36

Maybe, but isnt it likely to be symbolic everybody-out-for-a-day-on-the-same-day stuff that we had a few years ago over pensions?

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Feb 24 2009 00:08

It reads like a suggestion that people should just go out and strike. That's really not going to work.

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 00:20

It will be symbolic one day stuff in so far as the union leaderships can make it so. But the union bureaucracy is not omnipotent. Already for instance an all out strike on Dublin Bus has been called in opposition to cuts and layoffs.

And again, to be fair to the WSM, they aren't just randomly wandering onto the street on some random day when nothing much is going on and arguing that people should go on strike in the abstract. They are raising these ideas on one of the two biggest marches Ireland has seen in thirty years, over major paycuts and in circumstances where a lot of people are really pissed off and want to take action.

The Irish union bureaucrats are just as shit as the British ones, but the situation on the ground here at the moment is not the same as the situation on the ground in Britain a year or two ago.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 00:29

As Deezer has already pointed out the action being demanded is still within the Trades Union structure, and implies that the problem with the unions is the 'bad' bureaucrats, from whom we need to 'reclaim' our unions. Even if a symbolic action is forced 'from below' where does that leave, say, non-union workers? What would be their part?

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 00:43

Ah, now I understand.

It seems that their basic error is to understand that the vast majority of working class anger against the government in Ireland is currently channelled through the existing trade unions. If only they'd known about the better imaginary workers movement that they should be focusing their energies on instead, this would undoubtedly be a better leaflet.

It is of course terrible opportunism to start from where we actually are when we could, through sheer force of will, start from somewhere else instead.

Despite this issue having been cleared up for me now, I have to confess that I'm still a little baffled by your use of the term "symbolic" when talking about something like an all out indefinite strike of bus workers. Are we to assume that action taken by workers is just "symbolic" if they take it through the structures of the unions that they are actually members of and not through the imaginary structures of the non-existent bodies we would prefer?

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 00:49

Hey, Im a Trade Union member and a former H&S rep, so Im not arguing from some 'Outside and Against' position, but as has been pointed out already, a strategy of 'reclaiming our unions' is pretty futile. My trade union experience has, if anything, reinforced this opinion for me.

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 01:07

Whether or not you think that trade unions can be "reclaimed" is rather dependent on what you want to reclaim them for. If anyone thinks that they are going to turn SIPTU into a revolutionary organisation then they are nuts. It is not immediately apparent to me however that there is something more realistic about fantasising about workplace resistance networks or whatever rather than trying to make the unions significantly better than they currently are. I understand that your experience within the unions has left you cynical about their prospects, but I note that you don't have much in the way of successes to trumpet for an alternative strategy.

But leaving that broader issue aside and returning to the concrete situation: In current circumstances in Ireland we are seeing the first upswing in working class militancy that there has been for quite some time. All the indications so far are that at least for now that militancy is going to be expressed entirely or almost entirely through the structures of the existing trade unions. Turning up to a trade union demonstration and telling people that their unions are shit and that they have to build whatever our preferred parallel structures are instead, is not a viable or useful strategy.

Even if you honestly think that's the way things will have to go at some point, the argument at the moment is within the trade unions. And the union leaderships can in fact be forced to allow significant strikes, if the pressure from below is strong enough.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 01:09
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
I have to confess that I'm still a little baffled by your use of the term "symbolic" when talking about something like an all out indefinite strike of bus workers. Are we to assume that action taken by workers is just "symbolic" if they take it through the structures of the unions that they are actually members of and not through the imaginary structures of the non-existent bodies we would prefer?

I said 'likely to be symbolic', in reference to the general kind of response likely from the unions, not specifically about bus workers...I'll bet that the vast majority of people do not
end up on all out indefinite action.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 01:20
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
It is not immediately apparent to me however that there is something more realistic about fantasising about workplace resistance networks or whatever rather than trying to make the unions significantly better than they currently are.

I dont think anyone is fantasising about worplace resistance groups / networks or indeed advocating some overnight en masse exit from the current unions...despite my cynicism which you have correctly detected, but I do see from the News thread regarding the Dublin bus drivers that they do have their own workplace group.

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 01:35

The strike has been organised through the official union structures.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 01:50

And if it is a success, I wager it will be so despite the union structure, not because of it.
Again I dont think anyone is advocating non-participation in unions, where this is a possibility or a worthwhile endeavour. But to get back to the original thrust of the thread which was the criticisms of the particular leaflet, to be honest the first response summed it up anyway:

Deezer wrote:
But if its really about "taking control of OUR unions" meaning the ICTU affiliated Trades Unions and Amalgamateds (a futile act in itself) as opposed to building meaningful solidarity and workers control of their own struggles then what should we expect really?
Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Feb 24 2009 02:20
Deezer wrote:
Well, as is the form for the WSM this sounds like an empty 'transitional demand' to 'reclaim' the Trades Unions.

And the resident trot comes to the defence of the WSM - damned by faint praise perhaps?

Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Feb 24 2009 11:04

Right, irrationallyangry, this is quite a quick response - I really have to catch up on some work urgently right now.

First I'd just like to point out that libcom is NOT a unitary political organisation with a common approach/policy on 'workplace resistance groups' nor does anyone think these will appear from out our arses. Surely the WSM leaflet could have went further than merely criticising the ICTU bureaucracy? I'd have thought the argument should have been presented for those within the ICTU affiliated unions that workers should organise to ensure that the action is not deflected into symbolic one day strike action and that instead industrial action is used more effectively to force the government to meet the wortkers demands. I would also have thought that as the recession also effects non-Unionised and non-ICTU affiliated union members that there should have been some mention that solidarity be extended to defend those taking part in strike action who are outside the existing Trade Union structures. So, while I'd also imagine that a class struggle anarchist leaflet could mention that we should actually be building a better workers movement that does NOT mean ignoring the current realities that we are facing, it is actually really about being more open and spelling out the current realities rather than parroting leftist demands to 'reclaim' our unions.

jack white
Offline
Joined: 7-04-05
Feb 24 2009 12:32

Honestly i'm sure we could have said more but its a leaflet not a programme. to be honest I think it was probably too long as it was.

Secondly while the leaflet and our presence on the demo might not have been perfect its just a small part of our activities since the start of the crisis - which includes an fair bit of analysis, public meetings and reporting on sites like indymedia as well as activity in our unions; proposing and helping to pass motions on industrial action etc.

While critisism is always fair enough I'd like to see an account of what Organise! has been up to in the same time - or even where Organise! has been calling or arguing for actions outside the Trade Unions?

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 12:49
Jack wrote:
To be fair, as a member of SPI I'd have thought your only complaint would be that it's 5 degrees to your right.

That's actually pretty close to where my criticism of the leaflet would be and why I described it as a bit weak. I think it's a bit odd that they stick entirely to the situation at hand and don't argue for a socialist transformation of society (except with a vague reference to discussing "a new society") or indeed for anything at all beyond the immediate call for strikes.

I don't criticise them for having some sense of the tactical issues actually facing workers on the march however and not restricting themselves to the kind of fantasies that are currently so popular on these boards.

Deezer wrote:
First I'd just like to point out that libcom is NOT a unitary political organisation with a common approach/policy on 'workplace resistance groups' nor does anyone think these will appear from out our arses.

No it isn't a unitary political organisation. A very large number of participants on these boards do however prefer to fantasise about "workplace resistance groups" (or their particular organisation's version thereof) rather than engaging with the reality of the workers movement as it actually exists.

Deezer wrote:
I would also have thought that as the recession also effects non-Unionised and non-ICTU affiliated union members that there should have been some mention that solidarity be extended to defend those taking part in strike action who are outside the existing Trade Union structures.

This is pretty much the kind of thing I've been talking about. Criticisms based on the obsessions of some posters here and not based on any understanding of the actual political situation. There is no sign whatsoever that any significant strike actions by non unionised workers are at all likely to take place in the immediate future. Strike action by unionised workers is however going to happen and the issue is how widespread it will be and how serious it will be. In so far as other workers may take action, it will overwhelmingly be through joining the actual trade union movement.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Feb 24 2009 13:19

Even for the WSM, given the way they have been heading, this is pretty shocking. That leaflet is just out and out leftism/Trotskyism.

Irrationally angry I would expect to agree with it, him being a member of the socialist party (although as Jack points out a socialist party leaflet would be better than that).

Angry is however suffering from some misconceptions.

Rather than fantasising about imaginary "workplace resistance groups" (a straw man you have invented, and to which no one he has referred) the position of a lot of the people here is based on our concrete experiences in the workers movement.

Deezer and notch 8 both have a lot of experience working on the railways, in rail unions. Jack and I are shop steward and convenor in local government, etc.

We however, do not live in a fantasy world where we can "reclaim" irrevocably bureaucratised union structures, which existing legal frameworks which force them to act in anti-working class ways.

We recognize that unions act in similar ways regardless of how "left wing" leaderships are. And that the only thing which pushes unions towards more radical stance is increased combativity of the base.

We therefore aim what little efforts we can at rank and file workers, because we believe that ultimately we, workers ourselves, are the only people we can rely on look out for our interests.

So consequently we do not believe in making abstract and impotent appeals to our leaders, in the unions or in the government to help us, but instead appeal to our fellow workers to fight together for our own interests.

This includes the large majority of the working class which the trade union movement is either unable or unwilling to organise.

In local government in UK, for example, we went on strike a few months ago, but even if all the union members were out, this would still be a minority of the workforce - only around 20% in many councils. So addressing workers more generally, and approaching agency, contract, part-time and un-unionised workers is massively important.

jack white
Offline
Joined: 7-04-05
Feb 24 2009 13:23
Steven. wrote:
So addressing workers more generally, and approaching agency, contract, part-time and un-unionised workers is massively important.

Right, and the best way to do this is with a leaflet created for a march by mostly public sector trade unionists?

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Feb 24 2009 13:32
jack white wrote:
Steven. wrote:
So addressing workers more generally, and approaching agency, contract, part-time and un-unionised workers is massively important.

Right, and the best way to do this is with a leaflet created for a march by mostly public sector trade unionists?

of course not. And as Jack points out, it is clear that I was saying that in response to Angry.

Still, that sort of audience is one where it would be possible to get across the message of unity across boundaries of union (non-) membership, employment status, etc.

Rather than mystifying and impossible leftist slogans like "Taking back control of OUR unions".

jack white
Offline
Joined: 7-04-05
Feb 24 2009 13:33

yeah, genius. So looking back is the only part that deals with our leaflet : "Even for the WSM, given the way they have been heading, this is pretty shocking. That leaflet is just out and out leftism/Trotskyism."?

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 13:53

Even the use of the term "leftism" as an insult is rather revealing, given that it is a verbal tick shared by "post-left" hippies and left communist fantasists. Neither group having much of anything to offer anyone interested in actual class-struggle.

On Steven's main reply to me, there are some things I wouldn't disagree with in it, notably the argument that the trade unions are bureaucratised and that by and large militant action is likely to come from the rank and file and not through convincing the bureaucrats. There are also many things that I think are complete rubbish and stem from doctrinaire gibberish rather than any real analysis of the world as it exists: It does in fact matter, whether some here like it or not, how obstructive a particular bureaucracy is and all union leaderships are not the same.

As I said in an earlier post in this thread, whether or not you think the unions can be "reclaimed" depends rather strongly on what precisely you think that reclaiming them means. SIPTU will never lead a successful revolution (then again, neither will an anarcho-syndicalist union). It can however be significantly changed, for the better, by an upsurge in working class militancy. Whether the "workplace resistance group" fantasists like it or not, the current beginnings of a rise in militancy in Ireland is heading straight into and through the traditional union structures. There it is going to come up against the intransigence, conservatism and commitment to "social partnership" of most of the union bureaucracy and leadership. That struggle is a central tactical reality and it cannot be wished away, no matter how hard some our friends here try.

Addressing that reality, by arguing about what the unions these workers are actually in or looking towards should do, while pointing out that the bureaucracy won't want to do it, is an entirely reasonable tactical approach for anyone who is interested in actually pointing a way forward for the struggle as opposed to wanking off about their own ultra-left purity.

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Feb 24 2009 13:56
Irrationallyangry wrote:
There are also many things that I think are complete rubbish and stem from doctrinaire fantasies rather than any real analysis of the world as it exists

Care to explain what this is, beyond the totally banal statement that "all union leaderships are not the same" (no shit).

Irrationallyangry wrote:
Whether the "workplace resistance group" fantasists like it or not, the current beginnings of a rise in militancy in Ireland is heading straight into and through the traditional union structures.

Again, who are these people? The only fantasy here is this ultra-left bogeyman you see yourself debating with.

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 14:08
Django wrote:
Care to explain what this is, beyond the totally banal statement that "all union leaderships are not the same" (no shit).

It's only banal if you think that statements like this are doctrinaire rubbish:

Steven wrote:
We however, do not live in a fantasy world where we can "reclaim" irrevocably bureaucratised union structures, which existing legal frameworks which force them to act in anti-working class ways.

We recognize that unions act in similar ways regardless of how "left wing" leaderships are.

The above is pretty clearly a statement that all union leaderships are functionally the same and that it doesn't matter what the particular attitude of a particular union leadership is. I am saying that all union leaderships are not functionally the same and that it can and often does make a difference what the attitude of a particular union leadership is.

Django wrote:
Again, who are these people?

People who want a leaflet aimed at unionised workers on a union initiated demonstration to avoid arguing for the unions to take particular actions. People who think that such a leaflet should instead be about defending non-union workers. I'm sure you're capable of reading the thread for yourself. If nothing I've said applies to you, then well and good.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Feb 24 2009 14:42
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
SIPTU will never lead a successful revolution (then again, neither will an anarcho-syndicalist union)

Except that anarcho-syndicalists dont set ourselves up as 'leaders' of the revolution?

I dont think IrrationallyAngry has misconceptions about the position of other posters here re: the unions, I think theyre being wilfully misrepresented - None of us would be / have been involved in unions to the extent we are / were unless we agreed that there was at least something we might achieve by doing so,albeit without harbouring any unrealistic expectations. Also who ever said that these workplace networks that we 'fantasise' about 'pulling out of our arseholes' would be mutually exclusive of this involvement, should we manage to painfully extract them?

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Feb 24 2009 14:52
notch8 wrote:
Except that anarcho-syndicalists dont set ourselves up as 'leaders' of the revolution?

Neither do SIPTU.

notch8 wrote:
I dont think IrrationallyAngry has misconceptions about the position of other posters here re: the unions, I think theyre being wilfully misrepresented - None of us would be / have been involved in unions to the extent we are / were unless we agreed that there was at least something we might achieve by doing so,albeit without harbouring any unrealistic expectations. Also who ever said that these workplace networks that we 'fantasise' about 'pulling out of our arseholes' would be mutually exclusive of this involvement, should we manage to painfully extract them?

Insinuations of bad faith aren't a particularly useful way to carry out a discussion. It's entirely possible that I'm misunderstanding the basis of the criticisms of the WSM leaflet on this thread (excluding for a moment my own criticisms of it for not raising political ideas beyond immediate tactics). But if I'm misunderstanding you, it's not because I'm trying to misrepresent you but because I can't extract any coherent content from the arguments in this thread apart from disapproval of a solitary reference to "reclaiming our unions".

So let's try this again:

Is the sole objection to this leaflet that it contains a reference to "reclaiming our unions", which is apparently for some of you a terrible abandonment of principle? Or is there more to it than that? And if there's more to it, could someone please have a go at explaining what in straightforward, unambiguous, terms?

jack white
Offline
Joined: 7-04-05
Feb 24 2009 15:49

Bearing in mind what the occasion was that the leaflet was produced for what would you have put in it Jack? Keeping a similiar wordcount what would you have left out?

jack white
Offline
Joined: 7-04-05
Feb 24 2009 16:45
Jack wrote:
You're asking me to rewrite a leaflet to a demo that happened in the past, in another country?

Not at all, but I think its fair to ask what you think we should have put in it.

Jack wrote:
Depends on your purpose tho? I suppose if you were just doing it to advertise the bookfair

If we just wanted to advertise the bookfair we would have just given out the flyers we printed for it.

Jack wrote:
perhaps presenting some tactics to win might be am idea?

Like here"As soon as possible we need a unified day of strike action across the entire public sector to demand withdrawal of this pay cut. One day of strike action is unlikely to be enough to force a change of government policy. So this needs to be followed up with an ongoing campaign of strike action."

Jack wrote:
Less about reclaiming and demanding stuff from the union

I know you're at work so probably at work and so don't have much time to spend on this but the only reference I see to reclaiming anything is "Taking back control of OUR unions is part and parcel of the fight to protect what we have won over the years." Even if you disagree with that its one sentence.

Jack wrote:
more on the need to take action at a local level, be prepared for the union sell out,

What, like "That solidarity needs to be built at grassroots level. We cannot trust the leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions... When they went into talks with the government on the ‘Framework Agreement’, they accepted the need for cuts. At a meeting of public service trade unionists last weekend it emerged that it was ICTU themselves who proposed the ‘pension levy’."

Jack wrote:
The need to avoid being isolated and divided (union vs non-union, public sector vs private, and even the bits of the public sector getting the levy vs those who aren't)

Could have done with some of this but then it was aimed at people taking part in the march who were mostly public sector workers. (I don't think theres anyone in the public sector who isn't getting the levy though - maybe some employees in State owned companies...)

Jack wrote:
and for me, the most vital bit is argue for co-workers to join picket lines and actively spread the strike as needed on strike days so the unions can't claim lack of interest.

I don't honestly know how relevant this is here. Union membership in the public sector is quite high so I don't think there would be much of an issue about ununionised workers crossing picket lines. The issue of different unions operating in the same workplace will come up though... I think thats a fair point.

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Feb 24 2009 21:12
irrationallyangry wrote:
The above is pretty clearly a statement that all union leaderships are functionally the same and that it doesn't matter what the particular attitude of a particular union leadership is. I am saying that all union leaderships are not functionally the same and that it can and often does make a difference what the attitude of a particular union leadership is.

There's nothing doctrinaire about understanding that there are "existing legal frameworks in which unions have to operate", in his words. Thats a statement of fact. Its about as doctrinaire as saying that there are traffic lights at the end of my street.

The fact that there are different union leaderships with different attitudes doesn't mean we can't make general points about how unions function. Its like saying that because all boardrooms aren't the same, and some executives have different attitudes to others, we can't make general points about how businesses work.

What Steven. wrote looks very much like a realistic assessment of reality from someone with plenty of experience organising within unions. Arguing away realities like union laws as "ultra-left fantasy" looks pretty doctrinaire to me.

IrrationallyAngry wrote:
People who want a leaflet aimed at unionised workers on a union initiated demonstration to avoid arguing for the unions to take particular actions. People who think that such a leaflet should instead be about defending non-union workers. I'm sure you're capable of reading the thread for yourself. If nothing I've said applies to you, then well and good.

I have read the thread, which is why I'm wondering where you are getting this stuff about "workplace resistance groups" or anarcho-syndicalist unions leading the revolution, or making leaflets purely about "defending non-union workers" from, because no-one is arguing for them. They just look like standard jibes about the "ultra-left". People have been arguing against having fantasies about "reclaiming OUR unions", and pointing out that looking to strengthen unions, rather than working class militancy, is getting it the wrong way round. FWIW I agree with Stephen that complaining that unions are bureacratised is like complaining that eggs have yolks. That doesn't mean that we don't join them, or even don't take shop steward postions. It means that we have to work on raising the level of militancy generally and can't rely on good leadership. So in this case I'd make a leaflet that makes arguments along those lines. You won't see anyone arguing that we should give out leaflets calling on people to leave the unions.