Saturday, 11 April 2009

Visteon - the struggle continues...

The Visteon occupation at Enfield has ended, but clearly the struggle goes on. Ady Cousins has posted a superb video marking the end of the occupation - it's inspiring stuff and makes me wonder just how amazing it would be if they were leaving victorious!

Of course, it's a tremendous inspiration largely because it does represent a kind of victory. I've been an active socialist for 16 years and it's the first time anything quite like this has happened in my political lifetime. It's too early to be sure if the occupation tactic is returning as a phenomenon for the first time since the 1970s, but it looks that way. The fact that it happened at all is a leap forward.

Could they have carried on? Well, it's hard to tell at this distance, but these things are shaped by the wider balance of forces. If it was part of a wave of occupations, or if it had triggered wildcat walkouts, it might be a different matter, but I suspect they went as far as was viable. There's also the relative strength of the rank and file compared to the union bureaucracy to consider.

We're in the early days of renewing the strength of the union grassroots, of asserting the possibility of independent rank and file action. It would be daft to pretend the union leaders aren't still an important factor - even when workers move into action independently of the official structures, the bureaucracy still has considerable sway. The key thing for the rest of us is building up as much solidarity across the union movement as possible.

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