Saturday, December 08, 2007


Since last week the online labour solidarity site Labour Start has been calling for solidarity messages from the world community to pressure the bosses both corporate and government to accede to the demands of striking workers at a Ford plant outside of St. Petersburg for decent wages and working conditions (see previous story here at Molly's Blog). The Russian workers are now calling for further solidarity. Their strike fund is running low, and they need donations to keep on struggling. What follows is the appeal from Labour Start for their case. You can donate by credit card. If the embedded link for the campaign doesn't work please go to the Labour Start home site ( ).

"As we told you last week, Russian workers at a Ford factory near St. Petersburg have embarked on an historic strike. Nearly all strikes in Russia last a day or so. Labour laws in that country make it very difficult for workers to strike for more than a day. But this one has gone on for several weeks as Ford refuses to engage in meaningful bargaining. Your thousands of messages of support have been a real boost to the workers---but now they need something more. The Ford workers have asked Labour Start to help raise money for the union's strike fund---which is rapidly running out.

Workers all over Russia who have very little money to give have been generously donating. We now need workers from all over the world to reach deep into their pockets. We have learned that it costs US $20 per day to keep a Ford worker in Russia out on strike. The union is trying to pay 700 workers this amount every day. The union needs to come up with $14,000 every single day. That's a lot of money anywhere, but especially in a country like Russia.

There's a saying in the trade union movement---something along the lines of we can win a strike if we can last one day longer than the boss. That's what we need to do here. we need to help Ford workers last one day longer than the company, to keep the strike going on long enough to compel Ford to come to the bargaining table. If we do that it will send shock waves through the Russian trade union movement. It will mean that this historic strike has led to an historic victory.

Here's what I am asking us all to do.

Let's raise at least $14,000---to keep the strike going that one extra day.

Let's each donate at least US $20---more if you can---to the Ford workers special fund we've set up.

Every $20 pays for one workers to be on strike for one more day.

We want the union to see exactly how much we have given in real time and to make the process as transparent as possible, which is why we're using Chipin.

Please encourage your union to make a more substantial donation as well, and please spread the word.

I know I can count on you. Thanks.

Eric Lee"

Molly Note:

Molly has sent her Peters' Pence this way. Why is this struggle important ? It is a catalyst for the union movement in Russia, and the union movement may be the only reliable force that can hold back the oligarchs and the government of Putin from their drive towards authoritarianism and (the old lefty word) revanchism, to recover their former imperial glory. It is important for the peace of the world that Russia's new ruling class be confronted with an independent and strong union movement. Given the state of politics in the Russian Republic today it may be the only possible break on their ambitions. Back in the country where my mother was born they, like they do in the former Yugoslavia, take their "identity politics" in a deadly serious manner, unlike the juvenile academic and bureaucratic game that it is here in North America. The thing about unionism is that it transcends whether you are Russian, Chechin, Ingush, Kazak, Balkir, Tatar or whatever. It builds solidarity and cooperation across tribal identities. The present Russian population is being trained in ethnic hatred by its government. What they need as "counter-training" is the solidarity experience of unionism. Transnational solidarity is important here not just for the Russians but also as part of our own struggle to redefine leftism as closer to its original internationalism and further from the tribalism that infects so much of the left today. So sign up and give your pennies goddammit.

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