Capital & Class. - 1980. - Issue 12 by Conference of Socialist Economists

By Conference of Socialist Economists

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The union was able to force management into dealing with it, but management found that the union could be a useful weapon for disciplining the rank-and-file . In spite of the union, productivity and profitability were maintained (McPherson, 1940 : 150-8) . After the Second World War, the North American auto industry developed the system of seniority and stability of labour which has formed the basis of some theories of dual and segmented labour markets . It is possible that in Brazil the development of trade unions in the plants and a freer political system will lead to a replication of some of the features currently found in North America .

The last Labour government supported the planned increases in NATO military expenditure, and theatre nuclear modernisation through the installation of cruise missiles and Pershing II ballistic missiles . They also carried through the £1 billion Chevaline programme to modernise the warheads on the UK Polaris missiles, proceeded with planning for Polaris replacement, and projected large increases in the defence budget . The Thatcher government not only continued these military preparations, but provided a strident anti-Soviet rhetoric which lent support to the US response to its lost hegemony in Europe.

The trade unions were kept under the control of the Ministry of Labour, and rank-and-file militancy in the plants was subject to the repression of the security forces . Strike action was often countered by the use of the police and the army, and workers in the auto industry were subjected to arrest, imprisonment and torture . This meant that only sporadic and minimally organised resistance could survive . Inter-plant rank-and-file movements could all too easily be disarticulated by the security forces .

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