Three of Workers’ Liberty’s industrial and trade union “fractions” met on the weekend of 12-13 January — our school worker and health worker fractions met, as did our Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) fraction.
“Fractions” are groups of Workers’ Liberty members and supporters who work in the same industry or who are active the same union.
The school workers’ fraction mainly discussed Workers’ Liberty’s activity in LANAC (the Local Associations for National Action network), the rank-and-file caucus of school workers that Workers’ Liberty members were central to founding in 2012 (see page 11 for more).
The PCS fraction, which mainly includes civil service workers but also workers from other industrial sectors organised by PCS, discussed the fight against job cuts in the Department for Work and Pensions, and a battle over pensions cuts by air traffic controllers at Heathrow. It also discussed upcoming union elections in PCS, where Independent Left, a rank-and-file network Workers’ Liberty is involved in, plans to stand candidates.
The health workers’ fraction discussed the difficulties of agitating for radical industrial action in the main health union Unison, which is dominated by a conservative bureaucracy. An activist who attended the fraction said:
“The priorities of AWL activists are to concentrate on patient educational work in our workplaces in the attempt to rebuild a culture of working-class solidarity. We have been inspired by the example of the Chicago teachers, the fledgling cleaners’ movement in the UK, and other approaches that seek to build a different form of trade unionism based on collective struggle.
“Even as the immediate future looks likely to bring defeats, there is important work to be done to develop a new generation of activists committed to this kind of class-struggle trade unionism. Where struggles do look likely, as in Lewisham Hospital, we orient our efforts to organising and agitating for victory.
“As the government swings the axe at the NHS it is highly likely that some health workers somewhere will begin to resist. As orders come down from on high to close services, patients will be put at risk. We call for health workers to stand by their patients, refuse to comply with any instructions that put patients at risk and collectively defy the managers and accountants who are making these dangerous decisions. It is a modest demand for clinical integrity but if it is taken up throughout the NHS it will mean a radically transform the movement to save the NHS and put workers’ control back on the agenda.”
AWL’s industrial fractions produce workplace, industrial, and union bulletins, and are supported by a national industrial committee. To get in touch with AWL members in your industry or union, email firstname.lastname@example.org.