IWW Cleaners win at John Lewis

So far, 2012 hasn’t been a great year. Internationally, the burst of rebellious energy that shook regimes across the Middle East last year seems to have run out, or, as in the case of Syria, been channeled back into the bloody games played by states and politicians. The social conflicts that were beginning to challenge the existing setup in Israel and Palestine have been drowned out once again as the Israeli state launches yet another predictable election-time massacre. In the US, the May Day events that were supposed to mark a revival of the Occupy movement seem to have been more like its last gasp.
Back in the UK, the riots that erupted last summer have yet to return, despite a seemingly endless series of provocative attacks launched by this government against the poor. The left’s great hope was the union-led pensions dispute, which has been slowly managed into the ground. After a few botched attempts at strikes earlier this year, the only really large display of opposition was another routine march, considerably smaller than when the TUC called the same demo a year and a half ago, and dominated by delusional slogans calling for the same union bureaucrats who’ve strangled the life out of the pensions dispute and refused to take any real action for almost a year now to suddenly start acting like revolutionary syndicalists and call a general strike.
Generally speaking, when surveying the current state of the resistance to global capital, it’d be tempting to say that we’re fucked. Which is why it’s all the more important to pay attention to the times that we fight back and win. Just as the relatively small, but well-targeted, campaign against workfare has been far more effective than most of the protests coming from the mainstream left, a few rebellious groups of rank-and-file workers have managed to take on their employers and win at a time when the big unions are showing a total inability to defend their members.
The latest of these victories is a win for the IWW cleaners at John Lewis, where the threat of strike action has won an immediate 9% pay rise, backdated for the last 5 months. This isn’t the first time the IWW cleaners’ branch has won a real victory for its members, and it won’t be the last – even at John Lewis they’re not planning to rest on their laurels, but are going to continue fighting to win the full London Living Wage of £8.55 an hour. As workers everywhere continue to face attacks on our living standards, the John Lewis cleaners offer an inspiring example of how to stand up for ourselves and win. Hopefully their fighting spirit will spread to other previously unorganised workplaces – the emergence of the Pret a Manger Staff Union is a certainly a promising sign in that direction.


About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
This entry was posted in Strikes, Stuff that I think is pretty awesome and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to IWW Cleaners win at John Lewis

  1. Annos says:

    “A few powerful men have hijacked our economic, financial and political structure. They aren’t socialists or capitalists. They’re criminals.”


  2. Pingback: IWW Cleaners win at John Lewis « attempts at living

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