Introduction to Discussion of Class Power on Zero Hours

Class Power on Zero-Hours was published in April of 2020, just as the magnitude of the covid epidemic was becoming clear and months before the protests against police violence would sweep the United States and subsequently the world.1 Its accounts and analyses are based completely on what the authors did and learned before those dramatic developments. But, if anything, the book’s relevance and importance have been enhanced by them.

aw is a small political collective whose members have been living and working in Greenford, in west London for the past six years. Greenford is a neighborhood that’s out of the way and out of sight and has, for quite a long time, seen very little of left-wing activity. Nonetheless, it houses fairly large concentrations of workers in industries vital for the everyday functioning of the larger London metropolitan area. The aw were determined to change the underestimation of the community by the larger left forces in London. After a good deal of looking around, they began working in food processing and distribution. In their words, they got rooted. Over time, they concentrated their political activities on workplace agitation, building a local solidarity network, publishing a newspaper (Wild Workers West) and developing as a political organization (with one foot in the community and the other in the left). Like many others, they were not sure what they were doing; unlike those many others, they refused to pretend that they were. Without hesitation, they reveal everything that didn’t go as planned and, as a result, we discover things that might really matter instead of fairy tales.

It is an incredibly rich text—with well-told stories, careful analyses and well-crafted arguments. They have a lot that is very distinctive to say. The text is characterized by clarity, not sectarianism.

Insurgent Notes decided to initiate this roundtable discussion because we believe that the book has the potential to initiate some far-reaching conversations about what should be done here in the United States and we’d like to contribute to the further development of the aw’s work in the United Kingdom and internationally. We invited individuals with a variety of different perspectives on the matters at hand to contribute and also asked the Angry Workers to respond.

Let’s say something about the moment. New possibilities appear. Old familiars (varieties of Leninist parties; social democracy; insurrectionism; communalism of one kind or another; anarcho-syndicalism; identitarianism, and, to be fair, left/libertarian communism) seem increasingly less adequate. They are breaking up against the reality of everyday errors and miseries—which provoke ever more insistent proclamations of the necessity of the overcoming of that reality. The Angry Workers can provide us with new ways of thinking through the dangers and the opportunities.

We would urge readers not to see the analyses and arguments presented in the book as positions to simply agree or disagree with. Instead, they need to be studied, understood and seriously engaged with. In that regard, we think that the formation of study groups devoted to grappling with the text over a period of time might prove to be especially valuable. If individuals or groups are interested in doing so, please let us know by emailing us, and we’ll try to help out in putting people together.

In the meantime, if you’d like to respond to any of the contributions, please do so.

Here are a few valuable links to Angry Workers projects:

Website

Facebook Page

Let’s Get Rooted

Finally, we want to express our appreciation to all of our contributors and to the Angry Workers themselves for their cooperation and patience.

Class Power on Zero-Hours is available from PM Press.


  1. Zero-Hours refers to a fairly prevalent form of labor contract in Britain where an individual employee is not guaranteed any minimum number of hours of work in a week but is expected to be available for work on any occasion. It’s the worst of all worlds.↩︎

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