Workers’ Inquiry and Global Class Struggle: Strategies, Tactics, Objectives

Robert Ovetz (ed)

Pluto Press, London, 2020. 288 pp., £19.99 pb
ISBN 9780745340869

Reviewed by Katjo Buissink

Robert Ovetz begins this edited volume with a frank admission, that there ‘is little doubt that the global working class is on the retreat and has been for a very long time’ (1). Recognition of this might draw, and indeed has drawn significant parts of the left, into an inescapable pessimism about the future potential of class struggle and a militant workers’ movement. Workers’ Inquiry and Global Class Struggle, however, harnesses this sentiment to present a down-to-earth yet optimistic selection of case studies into the contemporary workers’ movement.

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Iran oil workers’ strike: a spectre haunting neoliberalism

People and Nature | July 16, 2021

More than 60,000 Iranian oil workers have joined a strike for better pay and contracts – the biggest such action since the general strike of 1978-79 that helped toppled the Shah’s regime.

The stoppage is supported by teachers, pensioners, and families seeking justice for their relatives killed during the big wave of protests in November 2019.

The protest began on 19 June, the day after the elections won by the conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who takes over as president next month.

The Iranian oil industry is dominated by the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company. But in recent years it has employed a host of contractors – many owned and controlled by state officials and their relatives – who have slashed pay levels and undermined working conditions.

Striking workers at a refinery, late June
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2 months of coal workers’ strike in the US

Peoples Dispatch | June 02, 2021

Over 1,100 workers have been on strike since April 1 at Warrior Met Coal plant in Brookwood, Alabama. They are demanding that the company respect workers and reverse some of the anti-worker measures imposed by the company’s new owners in the name of bankruptcy, such as wage cuts, loss of paid sick leave, loss of holidays, increased health care costs and more. Despite intimidation, the workers continue their their brave struggle for dignity.

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MAY DAY 2021

Tough times are ahead – and every worker will need their union

Frances O’grady

Morning Star | May 01, 2021

Every time key workers put on a uniform they’re putting their health on the line for the rest of us.

That’s why allegations of government sleaze are all the more shocking. While underpaid health care heroes risked their lives, ministers’ mates lined their pockets.Read More »

WORKERS’ SOLIDARITY 

Make solidarity permanent to create a fairer Europe

Luca Visentini

Morning Star | May 01, 2021

It has been clear simply in the way we have worn masks to protect others, it has been clear in the way workers put themselves at risk to keep essential services running and it’s been clear in the way trade unions won unprecedented support to save jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic.Read More »

WORKERS FIGHT AGAINST BIG TECH

‘They track our every move’: why the cards were stacked against a union at Amazon

Michael Walker

The Conversation | April 23, 2021

“Working at an Amazon warehouse is no easy thing. The shifts are long. The pace is super-fast. You are constantly being watched and monitored. They seem to think you are just another machine.”

So testified Jennifer Bates before a US Senate Budget Committee hearing into income and wealth inequality on March 17. Less than a month later her co-workers at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Bessemer, Alabama, voted 1,798 to 738 against allowing the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union into their workplace to represent them.Read More »

WORKERS FIGHT AGAINST AMAZON

The BAmazon Loss and the Road Ahead

Joe DeManuelle-Hall

Labor Notes | April 14, 2021

The election loss is a setback, but it shouldn’t be understood as a failed test of whether or not Amazon can be organized. The history of the union movement in the U.S. is full of losses that came before big wins. Photo: Joe Piette (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
What can union activists across the country take away from the high-profile defeat in the union vote at Amazon in Alabama?

The National Labor Relations Board announced April 9 that workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, near Birmingham, had voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

The tally was 71 percent no to 29 percent yes—though it’s possible the actual split was closer to 60-40, if you consider the large number of ballots that were cast but never counted because they were challenged by the company.Read More »

WORKERS STRIKE IN U.S. 

Massachusetts Nurses Face Down For-Profit Health Care Giant Tenet in Daring Strike

Sarah Hughes

Labour Notes | April 13, 2021

Two nurses hold a green St. Patrick's Day banner that reads "And the righteous did cast out the evil from the land." The banner pictures a group of nurses chasing off a snake labeled Tenet.
Nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, have been on strike since March 8. Their number one issue: safe staffing ratios. The hospital is owned by the for-profit health care conglomerate Tenet, which made $400 million in profits in 2020. Photo: Massachusetts Nurses Association
On the same day that their employer announced it had made more than $400 million in profits during the Covid-19 pandemic, the nurses of St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, declared their intention to strike.

“St. V’s” is part of the Dallas-based Tenet Health—one of the largest and most profitable for-profit hospital corporations in the country. It is refusing to back down on the number one issue for nurses: safe staffing ratios.

As of this writing, close to 90 percent of the 800 nurses have been on strike since March 8.Read More »

WORKERS PROTEST IN UK

NHS workers demand a green recovery to save lives and help the country get back on its feet

Matt Trinder

Morning Star | April 09, 2021

NHS workers protest for a pay rise for health workers outside 10 Downing Street

NHS workers are demanding a green recovery to help get the country back on its feet after Covid-19 and save thousands of lives.

In a new report published this evening, health staff say decarbonising the economy to zero emissions by 2030, 20 years ahead of the government’s target, could create jobs and prevent nearly 14,000 pollution-related deaths annually in Britain.Read More »

WORKERS PROTEST

How a Janitors Union in San Francisco Got Over Its Fear and Struck

Luis Feliz Leon

Labor Notes | April 08, 2021

People in masks and purple SEIU 87 shirts picket in front of a bright window. Central person has a bullhorn. Others carry "ON STRIKE" signs and wear reflective vests.
Striking janitors picketed the huge Salesforce Tower and other office buildings, as tech workers begin to trickle back after months of remote work. Roughly 3,000 Bay Area janitors were laid off last year. They want everyone rehired, with improved ventilation and protective gear. Photo: SEIU Local 87
With their contract negotiations stalled, hundreds of San Francisco janitors represented by Service Employees (SEIU) Local 87 went on strike March 24.

Roughly 3,000 Bay Area janitors were laid off as the pandemic spread last year. Their union is now demanding a return to work for all laid-off workers—but with improvements.

They want better ventilation in buildings, protective gear for workers, a wage increase, health coverage, additional sick days, and protections against sexual harassment for a workforce that is largely immigrant women of color.Read More »