“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The lessons of the 70's still relevant today.

With more details of the construction industry blacklist starting to come to light in the same week that calls for government files on the 1972 building workers strike to be made public at last, old building trades militants must have a bit of a spring in their step today. It was never an easy industry to work in and one of the hardest to organise effectively but as the sparks showed last year, it can be done.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

1 comment:

Dr Llareggub said...

I recall the building workers strike and events after it. Sat through part of the Shrewsbury Pickets trial at Mold County Court, only one there some days to support them. I worked on Building sites around Liverpool at the time, but also worked on the building of Reading Gas Works, New Steel works in South Wales, not far from where the Swansea anarchist students and hippies were selling 'Alarm' to the locals. Pity, in the recent attention drawn to this period, not to mention the unoffical, anarchist, methods of combating the bosses. I am sad to see this history - a formative part of my life - has been over written in the official union/Labour narrative. A building side - probably like a ship - cannot function purely by coercion or authority of the bosses; it requires cooperation. Withdraw that, and the bosses were screwed.And this was done with finesse. Good work sabotage was a way of withdrawing cooperation, excessive attention to doing the job well - a couple of welders could stop the site more efficiently than a strike just by perfecting their work on a pipe, especially when the bosses had no one to replace them. Unofficial modes of communication, a few household chemicals in the concrete mixer, tools like Kangol hammers, not put away at night, and the bosses got the message.Long after the unions negotiated away our tea and rest breaks in the great pay rise, we were pulling stunts to keep the bosses in check. I became a concrete ganger after an unfortunate accident broke the legs of my bully of a predecessor, and took charge of 14 cons from the local nick. Every Saturday they escaped into town, stole porny books which they took back to the nick and exchanged them with the screws for good quality prison boots which we auctioned on Sunday mornings. I have endless stories of how we fought back and frequently won. All we have left now are the narratives of the unions and their strike activity. But we fought the class war over and above all that. I could go on...