It's been a bad couple of weeks for trade unionism. Two of its greatest champions - Tony Benn and Bob Crow - have both passed away. But beneath the sadness, something interesting has been happening. Something that offers hope for a previously moribund movement...
Bob Crow was the greatest trade union leader of his generation and his death came as a devastating shock to me and millions of trade unionists. I would like to send my union's heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. I can't imagine how they are feeling and I hope the media respect their request for privacy... Bob once asked why it should be just the bankers, the politicians and the idle rich who enjoyed the finer things in life. While some try to beat us by sowing the seeds of envy, Bob offered hope that a better world is possible.
Whether people like or loathe Bob Crow, his contribution to the industrial and political demographic cannot be diminished by partisan bias. Keep that contribution alive. Join a union. Fight for your rights as a worker deserving of respect and equity. Push for the alternative.
Students' Unions need to devise long term plans, which elected individuals can champion, but are essentially run and managed by the longer term 'backroom machine' of the SU. Only then will we start seeing real, organised change in Students' Unions.
The true economic impact of such strikes is hard to calculate accurately, but that doesn't stop lobby groups from throwing big numbers around... Once such a number is picked up in the popular press, it is widely quoted without examination, as the press coverage of the recent strike reveals.
Thank you comrade Crow for dragging us back to the 1970s and 80s. This morning as commuters fought tooth and nail to get on packed buses or some of the few trains that were actually running, I think many Londoners and visitors to the City genuinely hate Bob Crow for the massive disruption he has caused.
The type of politics that has been practised over the last four years is that of the smoke-and-mirrors variety; divert the public's attention to one over-inflated issue/persona while deflecting from what the core truth of the matter actually is...
There's a sad shift to not supporting any of our workers, in London. When teachers, lecturers and other key members of our society when they go on strike. It's like we think that people deserve bad pay, to lose their job, insanely long hours and little respect. And that's a disgrace.
How easy would it have been for Thatcher to dominate the reporting of the dispute had it happened today? Would the 'Battle of Orgreave' ended the same way if onlookers and miners alike were connected to Twitter, Messenger and BBM?
Screaming headlines in the tabloid press - shamefully parroted by much of the rest of our media and compounded by unrepresentative and degrading TV programmes like Benefits Street - are solely designed to smear our welfare state and the people who rely on it.
Despite 94% of Londoners opposing cuts to the fire service, it looks like the closure of 10 fire stations and over 500 front line firefighters will be cut. The closure of these stations is expected to take place in January. In the high court, seven different local authorities argued that the planned cuts were "dangerous, irrational and unlawful". It was this high court challenge that failed.
Delivering his autumn statement, George Osborne declared he was "proud" of the changes his government is making to the state pension. Really? As a thank you for a lifetime's contribution to our society, those pensioners with no independent wealth to fall back on, are facing their retirement living in poverty.
When direct evidence emerges of a conspiracy stretching back years to blacklist trade unionists and prevent them from working, no inquiry is deemed necessary. When a few wealthy executives are reminded of the damage their decisions do to people's lives, it is apparently a gravely serious matter that demands urgent attention.
We're not interested in winding back the clock. We don't see the world as an epic struggle between capital and labour. And we don't have all the answers. Yet. What we do see is people being disempowered. And not just by the government. What marks out the political discourse of my generation is that we have organised against any power which negatively impacts our lives.
UK higher education is again experiencing significant labour unrest with thousands of members of UCU, UNISON, and Unite having spent Halloween on strike. A sustained period of working to contract is now underway as employees are refusing to provide the uncompensated overtime that has become the norm in the sector.
Who would have thought it? Cutting people's benefits, when there are almost 14 times as many jobseekers as jobs, hasn't sent them all rushing back to work and is causing misery for those families at the sharp end of austerity. The Chartered Institute of Housing's report into the impact of the benefit cap in one area of London confirms what any reasonable person would have guessed. But the headline, that the cap is struggling to meet its aims of encouraging people into work and saving taxpayers' money, is I think rather generous.