Richard Gingell, Black Country Socialist Party
In the second and final episode of ‘Strike: Inside the Unions’, we rejoin the ongoing struggle of workers in the strike wave. The first episode had us follow Mick Lynch of the transport workers union RMT, Pat Cullen of the nurses’ RCN, and included some appearances from Unite’s Sharon Graham. The second offering continues that trend, and also includes numerous GMB union reps fighting hard in Amazon warehouses and beyond.
Featured between the action shots of union leaders in action is footage of numerous strikes, demonstrations and protests. Unfortunately, these images are used purely for their imagery and with little time to elaborate their message.
While it was great fun to pause every few minutes to explain what was happening, or even to note the demonstrations I had personally been on, I couldn’t help but wonder why there was such a focus on the union leaders when really the strikes were about the struggles of working-class people.
I’m extremely sceptical of the BBC at the best of times, so I went into this cautiously optimistic. I was very happy with the portrayal of Unite’s Abellio London bus drivers and their monumental 18% pay rise, and the determination of the GMB’s Coventry Amazon workers.
But the way the RMT and RCN disputes were presented left more questions than answers. Why had these much larger, fierce and protracted battles not been able to secure decisive victories for all involved? Throughout the episode there is an overwhelming lack of context.
A tired and dead-eyed looking Sunak appears on screen multiple times to berate unions and workers for daring to stand up for themselves – of course failing to point out the underhanded and disingenuous manoeuvres that he and his ministers have employed to cause the situation in the first place!
Time is given over to sound bites and interviews discussing the horrors that the members of the public have been subjected to during the strikes, failing to acknowledge that these striking workers are also members of the public, being subjected to their own horrors by tyrannical employers.
Ultimately, the fact that workers fighting back is being seen on our TV screens is a good thing. Workers feeling the squeeze themselves may find comfort watching it and even be galvanised in their own struggle.
11am – 4.30pm, 24 June at Conway Hall, London. Registration fee £6
Confirmed speakers so far: NIPSA General Secretary Carmel Gates, BFAWU General Secretary Sarah Woolley, POA General Secretary Steve Gillan, NAPO National Official Annoesjka Valent, GMB Officer Gary Palmer from the victorious #GMBThree