The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 5th May 2006
Anniversary of the Paris Commune
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IMMIGRANT WORKERS LEAD THE STRUGGLE
by Berta Joubert-Ceci
A GIANT has awakened in the heart of imperialism. The
“invisible” workers who for decades have been vilified and exploited in
quasi-slavery conditions, who get up at dawn to pick the vegetables and
fruits we all eat, who work in the crowded and many times unsafe areas
of restaurants, shops and food processing plants, who clean and tidy
hotels and homes, who take care of children and toil in so many areas
for a meagre wage with no benefits—they have awakened to take their
rightful place in the history of the working class struggle in the
They are spearheading a revival of working class struggle with a call
for a boycott and strike on May Day. Not even a massive roundup by
Immigration of more than 1,100 undocumented workers in many areas of
the country on 20th April, clearly aimed at turning back this
movement, has dampened its ardour.
At no time in the recent history of America, since the courageous
African-American movement for civil rights, has a struggle so shaken
the very foundations of the imperialist order. Hundreds of thousands of
undocumented workers and their allies have been in an almost constant
mobilisation across the country, sparked by anti-immigrant legislation
approved last December by the House of Representatives.
The Sensenbrenner-King Bill, which declares itself to be for
“Protection of Borders, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration
Control”, represents the most vicious racism of the ultra- right in
this country. It also attempts to stimulate the vicious xenophobia that
was purposely whipped up after 9/11.
Even though other immigration Bills are pending in the Senate, not one
calls for full rights or amnesty for undocumented workers. Basically,
what has been going on there is a debate between the ultra right and
This struggle happens at a crucial time in the United States. The Bush
administration is embroiled in the so-called global “war on terror”,
which includes the quagmire of war and occupation in Iraq. Nevertheless
the US still intervenes in Afghanistan and threatens Iran, north Korea,
Venezuela and Cuba, funnelling hundreds of billions of dollars into
At the same time, social services at home are totally under-funded. The
budgets for schools, healthcare, public housing, repairing levees,
inspecting meat, even veterans’ benefits—virtually all programmes that
provide the support and services people most need—have been drastically
cut or eliminated.
In the private sector, there are massive layoffs and a corporate
offensive to cut pensions and healthcare, even in unionised jobs. A
close look at health care alone highlights the critical situation for
the masses in the United States. A recent study by the Commonwealth
Fund, a private healthcare policy foundation, found that in just four
years the proportion of people lacking healthcare coverage soared—from
28 per cent in 2001 to 41 per cent in 2005.
According to Karen Davis, president of the Fund, “The jump in uninsured
among those with modest incomes is alarming, particularly at a time
when our economy has been improving. If we don’t act soon to expand
coverage to the uninsured, the health of the US population, the
productivity of our workforce, and our economy are at risk.”
Immigrants aren’t responsible for any of this. Capitalism is.
At a slower pace and not as extreme, the cutbacks and layoffs here are
creating conditions similar to those that have driven the immigrants to
leave their own countries in search of work. Their homelands have
suffered under financial demands imposed by the International Monetary
Fund and World Bank, which work in the interests of US corporations.
The immigrant workers’ struggle is also an anti-war struggle.
Immigrants are well aware of the economic war that Washington has
launched against their countries, aided at times by the Pentagon—as in
Plan Colombia, which gives US military and economic aid to a regime
that allows death squads to crush unions. While the economic
penetration is mostly carried out through so-called “free trade
agreements”, they are accompanied by the build-up of US military bases
throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. And economic strangulation
can also be an act of war, like the sanctions were in Iraq.
Millions of undocumented Mexicans have had to cross the border because
the devastating and genocidal NAFTA trade agreement, which Mexico was
pressured to sign by the US, bankrupted its farmers.
Their fight is not only for recognition and respect for their own
rights, but for each and every working person here who is under attack
by greedy corporations that wage war at home and abroad to meet their
insatiable thirst for profits. What workers won in past struggles is
being taken away.
The undocumented workers who participate in the May Day Boycott are
especially courageous, and their action will strengthen the entire
working class in the United States. As Roger Toussaint, president of
the transit workers’ union in New York City and himself an immigrant
worker from Trinidad and Tobago, said to a rally before he was jailed
for leading the transit strike, “You have to take risks in order to
Our undocumented brothers and sisters are taking that risk. The
workers’ movement, the anti-war movement and progressives in general
should strive to support their efforts in every way possible—for it
will benefit all. Their struggle is our struggle. They are part of the
working class here, not outside of it, and they are the most exploited
By raising the banner of mass struggle and taking a path independent of
both Republicans and Democrats, they are setting a tone of resistance,
challenge and defiance that is so needed to show the true power of the
workers and end this long period of retreat.
Workers World (US)
Organisation is the key
The May Day March that made
its way from outside Marx House on Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar
Square last Monday was the largest for decades and showed that
Britain’s trade union movement can still turn out thousands when it has
a mind to.
Here was the real British working class united and in upbeat mood
to fight to defend pensions, education and the NHS; to oppose
privatisation and to demand backing for a new Bill of Workers’ Rights.
It was a far cry from the image of ignorant, apathetic racists that
much of the media – and some Blairite Labour MPs – regard the working
class to be. There were also plenty of colourful international
contingents on the march as usual; reminding us that in celebrating May
Day we are part of a global movement supported by billions.
As one speaker in Trafalgar Square put it, “How can we hope to
win against people like Bush and Blair? We’ve only got six billion on
Organisation is the key. The power and strength of millions of
workers can only be effective through unity and organisation. In 1848
the Chartist leader Ernest Jones told a rally in Manchester: “Some tell
you that teetotalism will get you the Charter: The Charter don’t lie at
the bottom of a glass of water. Some tell you social cooperation will
do it; cooperation is at the mercy of those who hold political power.
Then what will do it? Two year ago and more, I went to prison for
speaking three words. Those words were: ‘Organise – organise –
organise’… And this day again I say: ‘Organise! Organise! Organise!’”
Organisation is power and the ruling class know that once the
working class is properly organised, they are doomed. That is why
ever since the Chartist days they have sought to destroy and undermine
working class organisation. They have sent splitters into our movement
to foster faint-heartedness, reformism, revisionism, confusion and
The front line of the class struggle is inside the labour and
trade union movement because the ruling class know that spreading
disorganisation here is the key to them holding on to power.
The Labour Party was founded to be the political expression of
the trade unions, the organised working class. And the ruling class set
out to subvert it from the beginning. The correct strategy of the
working class must be to combat that subversion and throw out the
treacherous Blairites. But that cannot be done by quitting the arena of
struggle. That is to surrender the labour movement to the enemy.
One small group calling themselves communists were calling on the
unions to “Break the link with Labour! Defy the anti-trade union laws!”
Nothing would suit ruling class better than to have the potential power
of organised working class further fractured and splintered. Break the
link with Labour and the movement will be fragmented and working class
unity virtually impossible to achieve.
We owe it to our predecessors from the Chartists onwards, who
struggled to build the labour movement we have today – and to the rank
and file trade unionists and Labour Party members who are still working
hard to save the party from a catastrophe in the local elections and
keep the BNP at bay – to defend the unity and strength of the movement.
The current spate of scandals surrounding John Prescott and
Charles Clarke – not to forget Tessa Jowell and the cash for coronets
scam – have brought disgrace on the Labour leadership. The
privatisation policies of Patricia Hewitt and Ruth Kelly are an attack
on the working class. But all of them put together pale into
insignificance compared to Blair taking the country into an illegal war
on false pretences.
The trade union and labour movement leaders throughout the
country must be aware that the leadership of their party is in the
hands of the class enemy – and that they have the power and the
organisational tools to throw out Blair and his clique. The rank and
file have made their feelings clear on May Day. By the time you read
this, it is likely that voters throughout the country will have made
their views clear. The labour movement must use that power and deliver
the movement from Blairism.
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