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The Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union pursued a beautifully successful struggle against the Hovis company in Wigan. Plans for redundancies were stopped and so was the use of zero hours contracts and the undermining of collective agreements.
Unity, the former ceramics union based largely around Stoke, conducted elegant negotiations and tactics to force a decent pay rise out of Denby.
Both struggles were pursued by specialist trade unions and both exemplified some sound principles of organisation and struggle along with astute tactics. Some of the features were absolute unity and determination of members and preparedness of members to take strike action, a high level of democratic engagement in the tactics, solid shop floor organisation, effective communications and trust between leaderships and members, as well as iron will.
These are not the struggles of the mass simultaneous movement, nor are they idle rhetorical gestures on platforms; they are much more important, and remind us again in such a time of difficulty that workers determined, organised and united can win against all odds.
Zero hours contracts will not go because a politician wants them to and pay rises cannot be offered by any Labour politician except those in local government (and they have supported government pay restraint). Only organised workers can achieve real change.