Revolution or War n°19

(September 2021)

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Workers’ Struggles and Union Sabotage

Little by little, all over the world, after the shock of the pandemic and the state measures of containment and control of the population, the working class tends to take up again its fight for the defense of its living and working conditions. It is certain that the economic crisis has already begun to directly affect a large part of the world’s proletariat, especially in the less "rich" countries. While the ’welfare’ measures adopted during the pandemic mainly in European countries and North America are about to be abandoned and millions of proletarians will suffer the consequences, unemployment, inflation, especially of basic foodstuffs such as bread, falling wages, deteriorated working conditions are hitting almost everywhere. On all continents, in Iran, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, but also in Greece – to name but a few countries – poverty is settling in permanently and massively. These conditions of misery provoke reactions that seem to want to take up the international dynamic of proletarian struggles and social revolts that was affirmed in the autumn of 2019, before the bursting of the Covid and the containment measures came to interrupt it suddenly.

A few examples among others, knowing that our information is far from complete: since the beginning of the summer, street demonstrations, repressed, have multiplied in Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, in particular against poverty in general and the shortage of bread in particular. In Iran, in August, demonstrations violently attacked by the police and the Islamist militia, the Bassidji in particular, followed new strikes in the oil sector. At the same time, the so-called precarious workers, or “self-employed workers”, and overexploited by the delivery platforms and home delivery services, such as Deliveroo, are rebelling and demonstrating in many countries, in Spain, Italy, England and Lithuania. The rapid end of the aid measures of the ’richest’ countries, measures aimed above all at preventing a social explosion if millions of proletarians in Europe or North America were to suddenly plunge into the darkest misery for lack of wages, will cause the bankruptcy of many companies. This will lead to the bankruptcy of many companies, small or large, called "zombies" because they are insolvent and have survived artificially only thanks to "Covid" subsidies, and thus to an aggravation of unemployment, salaries and working conditions – without mentioning the evictions from housing and other consequences of the misery that will come. The end of the social measures linked to Covid announces the presentation of the bill to the proletarians. Already, proletarian struggles tend to break out in response to the direct attacks of capital.

In Germany, major strikes affected the railroads during the summer. Recently, the hospital La Charité in Berlin, the largest in Europe, with 15,000 employees, experienced a struggle demanding the hiring of new staff, the tenure of health care workers from subcontractors working for the hospital and a policy ’for health needs’ and not dictated by "cost control". It is interesting to note that attempts to organize the struggle directly were organized by the workers themselves.

In the United States, workers at the Volvo plant in Dublin, Virginia, went on strike for five weeks against the advice of the automotive union, the UAW, and the contract it had signed. In August, again in spite of the UAW, the 3,500 workers at DANA went on strike. The first workers formed the Volvo Workers Rank-and-File Committee (VWRFC) to oppose the UAW contract and fight for the extension of their struggle. The same was true of the DANA strike, although it seems highly likely that it was formed and created under the impetus of rank-and-file trade unionists and the influence of Trotskyites. The fact remains that they express a defiance, even an attempt to oppose the unions and to have the workers themselves take charge of their struggle and the defense of their interests.

The beginning of the dynamic of international workers’ struggle is there, even if timid. For this dynamic to be confirmed, affirmed and developed, the proletarians will have to confront, among other things, the sabotage and maneuvers of the unions, whatever the country, whatever the continent. It is up to the most militant proletarians to rely on these first experiences, to gain confidence in themselves and to organize themselves – for example in struggle committees – to prepare, or even launch, struggles and strikes.

Normand, September 18th 2021