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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2019

Liverpool Travelodge digger wrecking: union organising is the answer

NSSN activists lobbying the TUC for action, 9.9.18, photo Mary Finch

NSSN activists lobbying the TUC for action, 9.9.18, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Roger Bannister, Liverpool Socialist Party

Footage of a disgruntled construction worker, owed 600 by his employer, smashing the reception of a newly built Liverpool Travelodge with his digger has gone around the world. It has attracted humorous comments, condemnation and some sympathy.

Within a few hours, crowdfunding had raised hundreds of pounds - initially to cover the 600, but then to help pay for legal representation in the inevitable court case.

The many workers who have been underpaid by their bosses will no doubt sympathise, and may even wish they had access to a mechanical digger!

Despite the myths peddled by the capitalist media, British law is overwhelmingly biased towards the employer. It is extremely difficult to prevent an employer from cheating you on pay or other rights in advance, and there are only limited means to seek redress after the event.

According to the government's own statistics, over 9,000 minimum-wage workers were underpaid by bosses in 2018, to the sum of 1.1 million. And in recent years, local councils have had to pay millions for historic equal pay legislation breaches to thousands of low-paid women. Just recently, the heroic 8,000 Glasgow strikers forced their employer's hand on this too.

But reports suggest the worker in question here is not a member of a trade union. This case illustrates an important fact of life under capitalism: workers' rights count for little if workers have no effective method of enforcing them. It is of crucial importance that all workers belong to a trade union.

Unions

Unions can provide legal assistance to pursue non-payment of wages. But more importantly, a well-organised workplace is more likely to prevent these problems occurring in the first place - by stopping the job with industrial action if workers don't consider employers' treatment of them proper.

Union leaderships vary. Some are good, some are bad. Even the best-led unions may vary in effectiveness from place to place, section to section.

It is therefore also vital that rank-and-file workers take control, by electing fighting shop stewards in their workplaces, and combative representatives to their unions' governing bodies. Militant shop stewards can link up with like-minded reps via the National Shop Stewards Network, to learn from each other's experiences, and plan coordinated action where appropriate.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2019:


What we think

Venezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

Join the fight to defend women's lives


News

Austerity out, Tories out

Tory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

Liverpool Travelodge digger wrecking

Fresh inquest into killer air pollution: nationalise energy and public transport!


International socialist news and analysis

International solidarity with the struggle of the Sudanese people

Brazil: Hundreds die in avoidable dam collapse

Belgium: Movement against climate change grows

Germany: School student walkouts reject Coal Commission proposals


Workplace news

Tesco changes threaten thousands of jobs

PCS Left Unity chooses Chris Baugh - unite behind the left AGS and NEC slate

Leicester college staff strike against low pay

Teachers vote 83% for strikes

Unison union campaigns for school support staff action

Trade unions protect rail workers' picket line in Hull


Campaigns and party news

Councils can fight cuts!

Coxford ward byelection: No to cuts - defend our vital services

Keep profiteering developers out!

A strategy to fight the far right

Want to oust the Tories and change the world? ...Then give us the resources to do it!

Socialist Party Wales conference

East Midlands conference


Opinion

Exhibition: Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War

Fiction: Tombland "The power of common people fighting for justice in the 16th century"

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Roger Bannister:

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