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In praise of transnational strikes August 10, 2018

Posted by Citizen of Nowhere in Uncategorized.

Today’s strike by Ryanair pilots has succeeded in shutting down many of Ryanair’s flights in Europe.  Its effectiveness is predicated on workers being organised across national borders.  It is far to easy for ruthlessly exploitative employers like Ryanair to strike-break when they are transnationally organised and unions are not.

Ryanair’s policy of fake self-employment, whereby it avoids having to pay training, health and social insurance and pension costs of its workers has become a standard part of the management playbook in the neoliberal era.  For instance many of Deutsche Post’s end deliveries are now carried out by pseudo-self-employed van drivers.

It’s heartening to see more unions organising transnationally, particularly within the EU, where they have common legal and regulatory frameworks to work with, as opposed to a chaos of national laws allowing regulatory arbitrage by employers.  And it further hightlights the backwardness of ‘red nationalism’, in either its social democratic or Leninist forms.

The Ryanair strike joins coordinated strikes at Amazon warehouses, solidarity strikes with American T-Mobile workers etc.

Does anyone have further examples?


1. Miguel62 - August 10, 2018

Great to see a genuinely transnational strike in Ryanair. It’s been a long time coming. It’s bloody hard to organise though because of different laws surrounding industrial action in each EU state. For instance, IALPA has members in the UK but they can’t ballot them or make them part of the strike because of the anti trade union laws there from the Thatcher era. There is a complete contrast between the employers right to set up in one EU state and then operate in all others and trade unions having to comply with different and conflicting laws if they want to take transnational industrial action.
Time for transnational trade unions in the EU maybe? With the right to take industrial action in any EU state. And have this enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Would this be too cumbersome and remote from the grassroots? I don’t know but something other than the current status quo is required.


EWI - August 10, 2018

Time for transnational trade unions in the EU maybe? With the right to take industrial action in any EU state. And have this enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

I think that’s a very fine idea, now to drag the ILP and their pet unions, kicking and screaming, to support it.


WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2018

Completely agree, I’d think that if the ILP aren’t up for it perhaps SF might be?


Miguel62 - August 11, 2018

Yep, I think SF might be more up for it. All kinds of issues to be overcome though. Locally, there’s the question of UK headquartered unions and the National Labour movement which hasn’t gone away you know. And there is the (correct) antipathy to “poaching” which can overspill into a restrictive inward looking focus and an ingrained conservatism. Put bluntly, small Irish unions used to defending their patch are unlikely to welcome the creation and arrival of big EU players on to the pitch.
But something has to give. The shrinking density is a problem and the inability to act transnationally is part of that. Radical thinking is needed to overcome this. Mere closer cooperation isn’t enough. There needs to be a structure that can call and run an EU wide strike.

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