Friday, 9 August 2013
Zero hours contracts are nothing new. In the past a number of industries relied to a large extent on casual labour and with it came the insecurity and deprivation that many of today's workers know only too well. I have just been reading Good Morning Brothers, the autobiography of the militant docker Jack Dash. When I was working as a barge-hand in the 60's I used to spend a lot of time in Jack's stamping ground, the Royal Group of docks. I had huge respect for the dockers, for their skill, toughness and militant refusal to be beaten down by the bosses yes, but mainly for the very many examples of working class solidarity that I witnessed. Jack Dash was a real bogey man to the ruling class and hardly a day passed without him being vilified as a trouble maker by the right-wing press. The man was not perfect. He was a died in the wool Stalinist who like many of his generation had swallowed the soviet world view hook, line and sinker but he was first and foremost an old fashioned militant who would not allow himself or his mates to be shat on by the bosses. Jack and his contemporaries knew all about the evils of casualisation and many could still remember the terrible indignity of men literally fighting for a days work, but they also knew that by standing shoulder to shoulder they could force the rich and powerful to back down. Jack Dash was hated by the bosses and with every good reason. We could do with a few like him today.