US Longshoremen show the way with strike action on May Day to stop the war in Iraq


DOCKWORKERS of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have decided to stop work for eight hours in all US West Coast ports on May 1, International Workers’ Day, to call for an end to the war with Iraq.

The motion carried by the dockworkers calls the war an imperialist war for oil in which the lives of working-class youth and Iraqi civilians are being sacrificed and that therefore they have declared May Day a ‘no peace, no work’ holiday.

The Longshoremen oppose both the Republicans and the spineless Democrats, who oppose the war but who vote to finance it, and have decided that they have to show where they stand on the issue.

The Pacific Maritime Association, the West Coast employer association of shipowners, stevedore companies and terminal operators, have declared their opposition to the stand taken by the dockers, and will be running to the Bush regime to use the state to take action against the dockworkers.

In 2002, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threatened that if there were any of the usual job actions during contract bargaining, then troops would occupy the docks because such actions would jeopardize ‘national security’.

the PMA employers locked out the longshoremen and shut down all the West Coast ports for 11 days. but the ‘security’ issue vanished without trace.

Bush, however, invoked the Taft-Hartley Act, forcing the dockers back to work under conditions favourable to the employers.

This set the scene of one of the biggest battles between workers and the state in the US since the end of the Second World War.

When the US-UK armies invaded Iraq, hundreds of protesters demonstrated on the Oakland docks, and the dockworkers being men of principle refused to cross their picket lines.

Their action was met by a savage police attack, made without warning. Police in riot gear opened fire, shooting protesters and longshoremen alike with allegedly non-lethal weapons – wooden dowels, rubber bullets, pellet bags, concussion grenades and tear gas.

A UN Human Rights Commission investigator described the Oakland police attack as ‘the most violent’ against anti-war protesters in the United States.

These workers are now going to take strike action and march on May 1, international workers day, against the imperialist war in Iraq, and they must have the support of the trade unions not only in the US, but all over the world.

The British workers and youth marched two million strong against the war in Iraq. The so-called democratic Blair government simply ignored their massive protests and launched a savage attack on Iraq, knowing full well that the Iraqis did not have any weapons of mass destruction with which to retaliate.

Over a million Iraqis have been killed and wounded since that savage attack took place.

The only way to stop this war is through strike action, building up to a general strike to bring down the various warmongering imperialist governments.

The British trade unions must follow the example of the US dockworkers.

Monday May 1 is international workers day and it is definitely the day to stop work and march, at the same time as the US dockworkers, to stop the war in Iraq.

Otherwise, if a real struggle is not begun against imperialist war, it is only a matter of time before the US and the UK attack Iran and perhaps devastate a chunk of central Asia using weapons of mass destruction, with the loss of another million or so innocent lives.

• Follow the lead of the West Coast dockworkers

• Take strike action on May Day to stop the war in Iraq

• Organise a general strike to bring down the Brown government and to bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.