Socialist workplace bulletins - ideas for content

Submitted by Janine on 6 April, 2008 - 12:17

If you are producing a socialist bulletin for your workpalce, here are some tips on getting effective content together. The tips are in text from below, and attached as a single-A4 sheet (PDF).

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SOCIALIST WORKPLACE BULLETINS - IDEAS FOR CONTENT

The front page should carry one or two editorial articles. This should include articles about general political issues, as well as about the important issues in the workplace / industry / union.

Write general political articles in a way which addresses your audience ie. your workmates. Make points about how the issue affects them eg. when writing about the political fund, mention the MPs that your union sponsors; if your article is about immigration, write about migrant workers in your industry.

Often, one of your main articles will be setting out a strategy for the important fight that the workforce is currently facing eg. for a decent pay rise, against a victimisation, against privatisation, etc. Make sure you explain your strategy clearly, with the main points highlighted by using sub-headings and/or bullet points.

One of the roles of a Marxist group is to be ‘the memory of the working class’. Use examples from previous struggles – whether good examples from victories or negative examples from defeats – to illustrate your points. You can use examples from other industries and unions (or even other countries) as well as from your own: this shows the benefit of being part of a socialist group with members, and therefore experience, across different industries.

Avoid left jargon. Workplace jargon is fine, so long as it is widely used, not specific to one small set of workers.

Write clearly and simply, but don’t water down politics for the sake of patronising assumptions about some ideas being ‘too difficult’ for workers.

The back page should be made up of short articles on workplace issues. Keep each item brief.

Don’t just reflect a culture of moaning. Try to ensure the bulletin encourages workers to draw positive conclusions, to think and to get organised.

Attack managers and union bureaucrats (or politicians, or newspaper editors, ...), but do so in a way that mocks them, explains their action, and explains the problem with the system not just the individual.

Be clear that attacks on union bureaucrats are not attacks on the union itself: quite the opposite, your criticisms are in the cause of effective trade unionism, and in the interests of rank-and-file members.

In a workplace with two or more unions, don’t be chauvinist for one union – it will cut you off from talking to members of the others. But if one union is better than the others, say so.

Where relevant, point out the role of the bulletin, and of a socialist organisation. Explain the case for an independent voice for the rank-and-file. Don’t be shy: take credit if you have pushed an issue or strategy that has won a victory for workers.

Have a ‘who we are’ box which identifies the publishers as socialists (with a brief definition), and summarises your stance on a few key principles on industrial issues.

Have another box inviting workers to send in comments and articles, to attend your regular readers’ meetings, and to subscribe to the bulletin.

Consider having a ‘Marxism At Work’ column – each issue addressing a subject such as wages, new technology, overtime, profits, etc.

Advertise socialist discussion meetings, campaigning activities, Workers’ Liberty publications etc. Some readers will want to find out more about socialist politics and Workers’ Liberty having read your bulletin. This should be limited to one or two box adverts, rather than taking over the bulletin.

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