The electricians’ victory is a simple answer to those that say the working class isn’t a force or that unions are too weak to win.
Their determined campaign has humbled a huge corporation—and at the centre has been rank and file workers’ organisation.
Despite being ignored by the mainstream media, workers called protests to build up support and show the bosses the depth of opposition to the attack.
The threat of an official strike, and the prospect of spreading unofficial action, was enough to force the bosses to back off.
Strikes are a direct challenge to the authority of the bosses. They can expose the class divide and show the power of the working class.
An astonishing level of hesitancy and conservatism from the union leadership marked the electricians’ dispute.
Nonetheless the rank and file rightly fought to get official backing and an official strike.
But they were also prepared to act independently of the union bureaucracy.
That process needs to be deepened and extended, building up the confidence and organisation of the workers. This can also help to inspire others, in construction and beyond.
There should be no return to the corrupt “company unionism” that has infected construction.
And the lesson for the rest of the labour movement is simple—militant tactics win.
Sparks Revolt: The electricians’ dispute and the rise of the rank and file. New pamphlet by
Simon Basketter, Ian Bradley and Alan Kenny for just £2. Call 020 7819 1175 to order your copy