Friday, August 12, 2005

Heathrow Airport got a taste of what happens when workers' rights aren't as important as the bottom line...

70,000 people were stranded in one way or another because of the strikes at Heathrow...this came after Gate Gourmet, a catering company, sacked hundreds of employees over a megaphone when they had staged a walkout...Gate Gourmet has been trying to slash pay, and bust the unions...It is also in a dispute with unions in the US because it's trying to cut pay and benefits...the company is losing money, and now it is losing much more than that...thousands of check-in staff and baggage handlers at Heathrow went on unnofficial strike in solidarity with the fired Gate Gourmet staff...
The 70,000 stranded passengers are innocent victims of this industrial battle...and we can all disagree on who went too far...the company that sacked over 600 employees over a megaphone or the workers that unofficially walked off the job paralysing the airport...but underneath it all is the same old story of profit over people...
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
Abraham Lincoln
With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men. Clarence Darrow (Famous civil rights lawyer)
Films about Labor Struggles:

Norma Rae: Great film with Sally Field (won an Oscar for her part) about a woman working at a textile factory discovering the power of union work..and it has an Oscar winning song that always makes me cry: "It Goes Like it Goes"..

Matewan: The wonderful John Sayles directs this movie about mine workers trying to unionize...a true story of unions and a masacre.

Harlan County USA: A famous documentary about a coal miners' strike in Kentucky.

Roger and Me: The film that put Michael Moore on the map......over 30,000 jobs were lost in his home town of Flint, MI when GM closed its plant...a funny and powerful glance at how out of tune workers' lives and company profits are...

Bas Ya Bahar: The Kuwaiti film that shows how some divers were at the mercy of some of the ship owners who bought their lives with loans divers could never repay...It was about more than that, but the age old struggle between business and labor is interesting to note.

Woodie Guthrie anything by him... he sang one called Ludlow Massacre which was about striking coal miners who wanted to join the union, the company guards shot at them and burned their tents killing 20 people, 13 of whom were children.
Bruce Springsteen-Long time supporter of workers' rights, the haunting title song from The Ghost of Tom Joad is taken from the character from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath:
Check out these Singer-Songwriters: Pete Seeger, Ani Difranco, Rachid Taha, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan...
Bless the child of the workin' man
She knows too soon who she is
And bless the hands of a workin' man
He knows his soul is his
So it goes like it goes and the river flows
And time it rolls right on
And maybe what's good gets a little bit better
And maybe what's bad gets gone
It Goes Like it Goes from Norma Rae

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