As anyone who reads this blog on a vaguely regular basis will know, I have some ideas that I bang on about in a fairly repetitive fashion. In particular, one of the fundamental themes underlying my politics is the idea that struggles organised and controlled directly by the people affected are more likely to be successful, especially if they use direct action to cause as much disruption as possible, while those controlled by top-down, bureaucratic organisations like the unions are more likely to be called off before they can achieve any real results. As you may have heard, Trades Union Congress head Brendan Barber and Unison boss Dave Prentis are now arguing that the public sector unions should accept the government’s latest joke offer, that is to say, to allow the government to go on exactly with all the attacks they want to make, as long as they wait slightly longer before making them, which would make the two strikes so far this year a complete waste of time and lost wages. I don’t want to write too much about this, because recent cases have proved that writing stuff on the internet can get you thrown in jail, and I can’t think of much to say about Prentis or Barber that wouldn’t count as incitement to extreme violence, so I’ll just say that this fits exactly with my ideas about what we can expect from the union leaders, not to mention the spot-on predictions made by Adam Ford back in September, but I’m not exactly delighted to be proved right in this case.
But that’s not all there is to it. The past week’s also seen some dramatic examples of the potential of struggles not controlled by bureaucrats. Monday saw the amazing West Coast Port Shutdown event in the US, and in my write-up of it I talked about the need for more militant workplace occupations. Since then, we’ve seen mechanical & electrical workers in the construction industry occupy the offices of Network Rail and BBC Glasgow as part of their ongoing dispute, and now a manufacturing plant in Cork is being occupied by its workforce. It’s too early to say how any of these cases will end, but I’ll predict that they’ll end when those involved make a collective decision that they’ve achieved all they can, instead of just being fucked over by some overpaid scumbag like Dave Prentis. And if the example of workplace occupations spreads and spreads the way last year’s university occupations did, that’s something I certainly won’t mind being right about.