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Vol. 73/No. 10      March 16, 2009

Reactionary UK strikes I
In the article, “Reactionary UK strikes oppose immigrant jobs,” in the February 16 Militant, Communist League leader Jonathan Silberman took an important stance against the strikes and their British nationalist and anti-immigrant political character.

According to the article, the subcontractor at the union-organized worksite “decided” to hire workers from Italy and Portugal, something a company is “allowed to do … under European Union law.” But whether or not EU labor law “allows” this has nothing to do with what stance communists should take on the issue.

My question is, should class-struggle-minded union leaders in the United States, Great Britain, or anywhere else allow a subcontractor (or the company) to directly hire in labor from another country without union members or other workers being able to apply for the jobs? Or should the labor movement accept such a practice, and simply do everything they can to organize the contract laborers into their union?

Greg McCartan
Oslo, Norway

Reactionary UK strikes II
Tony Hunt is wrong to call the recent spontaneous walkouts in oil refineries and building sites “reactionary unofficial strikes.” They were not nationalist, anti-immigrant outbursts but responses to job cuts, tearing up of local agreements, and attempts to weaken local union organization.

The slogan “British Jobs for British Workers” has appeared. Some on the strike committees have repudiated its use. They have also called for trade union assistance for the migrant workforce. These walkouts were class struggles, not reactionary nationalist outbursts. Despite the masks stuck on this dispute by the media, it is a class struggle that deserves support not condemnation.

Murdo Ritchie
Glasgow, Scotland

Reactionary UK strikes III
The article entitled “Reactionary UK strikes oppose immigrant jobs” was seriously flawed. First, it failed to provide necessary background information, particularly concerning recent rulings by the European Court of Justice that empower employers to ignore local union agreements on wages and conditions and prohibit trade unions from attempting to enforce them. The only oblique reference to this in your article was its statement that employers “are allowed to [hire non-UK workers] under European Union law.”

John Smith
Sheffield, England

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