Monday, June 16, 2014

West Bengal workers lead in labour militancy

While thrashing the CEO with iron bars is going a bit too far, one cannot help but admire the determination of these workers not to accept the back of the hand from their employer.

Contrast that with how workers in North America respond to unilateral employer decisions that impact pay, hours, or whether you have a job at all. Labour militancy here is but a distant memory. If the hedge fund that just bought your workplace wants to "create efficiencies" by shutting down and relocating to a low wage state or Mexico or China, workers are expected to slink quietly into the twilight of redundancy with nary a murmur of protest.

If the place was unionized there may be murmurs of protest, but they'll last only a few weeks while some once-mighty outfit like the Steelworkers or Teamsters haggle for a better severance package for their dispossessed members.

The reality of organized labour in America today is that even the Teamsters and the Steelworkers all too frequently negotiate contracts that leave their members working full time but living below the poverty line.

That's just not right.

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