This week of (apparently successful) strikes has been one of the biggest waves of illegal strike action the country has seen in years. The fact that these strikes seem to have achieved their goals shows that direct action works. For many years, unions have been telling us that workers must play the legal game, and jump through hoops of anti-trade union legislation implemented by the Tories and reinforced by New Labour. These events, and struggles at Visteon, have shocked bosses and union leaders alike by fighting hard and winning.
Strangely the much of the left has been somewhat paralysed by these events at Lindsey, after very successful media manipulation of the original strike wave to make the strikers look like racist thugs. Clearly there was a small minority who expressed anti-immigration feelings, but the vast majority told the BNP and their ilk where to shove their racist propaganda. More important than the media circus of the original strikes is how the strikers this time around have won their demands with very little media coverage. With events in Iran taking front page headlines, these massive, solid and impressive displays of strength from workers have largely been ignored.
Their success and significance, however, cannot be ignored so easily. Some groups, such as the IWW among others, showed solidarity with pickets, leafleting and street collections for the strikers, but the majority of the left appeared preoccupied entirely with the uprisings in Iran. Clearly this is a major struggle that we should all support, but the wildcats closer to home also give us hope for our own fight against profiteers and bullies in this time of crisis.
Now we must see the strikes for what they really are: a reassertion of the power of workers self-organising outside the safe boundaries of legality. After these strikes, not only is workers' direct action politically positive but also it has been proven to work, not once, but twice in a row. With the media whitewash of the wildcats, it is now necessary to spread the word: direct action really does get the goods.