Anarchist Federation (Britain) | 01.08.2003 13:36
WILDCAT FIGHT BACK!
The recent wildcat walk-outs at Heathrow, which caused the cancellation of 400 flights showed in stark terms how vulnerable the bosses really are, and how dependent they are, on our willingness to carry on working as usual.
The unofficial action by 250 check-in staff was against the imposition of a new electronic time-keeping system, Automated Time Recording (ATR). The workers concerns are that information gleaned from the system will be used to devise new rostering systems that could see them working shifts of as little as two hours, being called in at short notice during busy periods, and sent home during quiet shifts.
To say the least, this would make it difficult for the workforce to plan their lives out of work well as they currently can. In essence, this struggle is about a group of workers not wanting their bosses to interfere to a greater extent in their lives.
The imposition of the new system, which BA tried with no consultation, was met by point blank refusal to work. The action was wildcat in nature due to the unions being merely verbally opposed to ATR rather than actually doing anything to stop it. The response of the unions to the strike was to get the workers back to work and go to ACAS. The GMB union leadership, which has been trying to achieve majority representation in Heathrow and Gatwick, played tough and called for a official strike ballot, as did the smaller Amicus, but the Transport and General Workers Union held back. The wildcat action has led to a climb down by management, with use of the new swipe cards being voluntary, so workers are wisely still using the old signing in system.
The unions have openly spoken of the need for a “cooling off period”, which is predictably manipulative, given that August is the time of year when the airport is busiest and so the company is most vulnerable to attack from workers.
The way forward for check in workers is to go back on the offensive during the busy summer period, create independent links with others opposed to the new system, such as the engineers, who are threatening strike action on this issue, and to co-ordinate their own fight, outside the control of the union full-timers. Relying on official channels to initiate anything always brings frustration – direct action is the only way we can win.
ALL EMPIRES COLLAPSE
Supporters of Western capitalism used to argue that democracies do not start wars. It is now perfectly clear what nonsense this is.
States, all states, including so-called democracies are enthusiastic in their use of violence to maintain and extend their power. Bush, Blair and co have demonstrated their enthusiasm for butchery in Iraq and elsewhere in the world.
As the media never tire of telling us, the USA is the worlds only remaining super power. With the almost total collapse to Stalinism as a counter weight to US global domination, the USA is flexing its muscles when and wherever it sees fit. The US has, of course, used violence before to extend its power, the example of Vietnam comes to mind and for many years it has treated Latin America as its own private domain.
But now, with the collapse of the USSR, it can act more or less totally unchecked. As is clear from the war on Iraq the interests of American capitalism are the predominant factor in US actions and nothing it seems will stop them. After all, they effectively destroyed the United Nations over Iraq (not that it was good for anything). No power exists to prevent the US doing exactly as it wishes.
The US is creating a truly global empire and it’s happily sacrificing its soldiers (not to mention foreign populations) in the process.
Daily, US troops are killed by Iraqi resistance. The US is building up its own system of client states to extend and reinforce its global power, Britain of course, being the number one poodle in this process. So, we have the beginnings of the American world empire.
Empires are unstable
Empires, however, are inherently unstable. All empires in the end collapse under the weight of the contradictions they create. And, the US empire is not as strong as it appears. Of course, militarily the US is virtually unstoppable. It can destroy any force that opposes it through a vast superiority of firepower.
However, it is one thing to win the war and it is another to win the peace, as is demonstrated in Iraq. There is a limit to the number of dead US soldiers that the American system can tolerate.
After Vietnam, the USA cannot take huge numbers of casualties. Iraq was a push over, however, with its million strong army and probable nuclear weapons North Korea will not be as easy. Even Cuba, which is the USA’s next-door neighbour, cannot at the moment be defeated without unacceptably high losses.
Another threat to the US power is daily growing stronger. This threat is China. Although economically backwards at the moment the Chinese system of market capitalism combined with one party dictatorship is making enormous progress. In the not too distant future China too will be a super power, re-creating a world system similar to the one under the cold war.
So, arrogant as it now is, the American empire is vulnerable. Whether it is super power rivalry or resistance at the bottom US domination is not permanently safe – but it is only resistance from below that can rid the world of Empires and the “democratic” or “socialist” states that
create and maintain them.
ON THE FRONTLINE
There seems to have been something in the air for the last month – aside from the Heathrow Wildcats, there’s been a burst of industrial action around the county and much of it has been successful.
The fight back against the attempts to divide the workforce in the NHS into those directly employed by the NHS trusts and those employed by a private contractor received a couple of welcome boosts this month, with two victories in the fight for equal conditions. Workers contracted by Carillion at Goole, Grimsby and Scunthorpe general hospitals struck for 17 days and won a 18% pay rise and an occupational sick pay scheme, as well as paid compassionate leave. In Bolton, porters took 12 days of action and won a rise of 10.25%, sick pay from first day of any absence and payment at time and a third for night working as well as other benefits. News of these victories seems to have spread throughout the NHS – Porters at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital are now set to strike.
There was another encouraging victory for Nursery nurses in Tower Hamlets who successfully fought off the bosses plans to significantly worsen their working conditions. The dispute provoked a three-week walk-out – fully supported by the local parents and residents – which resulted in complete victory for the workers.
The long running transport dispute in Devon between Stagecoach and drivers saw a fifth day of strike action – the drivers are currently paid 20% below the national average, despite the huge profits Stagecoach are pulling in. Stagecoach have a terrible reputation for treating their workforce like dirt – this fight-back is long overdue.
The chemicals company Rhodia faced two days of strikes 17-18th July at their Oldbury and Widnes plants - a total of 625 people walked out to defend their pensions – the first time workers have ever struck over this issue (more please!) and they have promised more to come if their demands are not met promptly.
Big trouble brewing for bosses at Shorts in Belfast, where nearly a 1000 workers have rejected a company offer recommended by their union and also refused their shop-stewards a mandate to negotiate on their behalf. Along with reports that union officials have been busy working to stop any further walk-outs at Heathrow, we once again see what appears to be inevitable in times of upturns in open class struggle - unions working hand in hand with bosses to protect themselves and their positions instead of taking action on the workers demands. How much longer will they be allowed to get away with it?
CLOSE THE DSEi DEATH MARKET!
Against the arms trade, Against the WTO, Against the global capitalist system!
The arms fair “Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEi) 2003” is due to run from the 9th to 12th September, at the EXCEL Centre, London. This get-together for the merchants of death is organised by Spearhead Exhibitions Ltd, in association with the UK Ministry of Defence.
DSEi coincides with the WTO meetings being held in Cancun, Mexico. As part of the continuing world wide opposition to the WTO a European call to action has been issued to support the “Disarm DSEi” actions happening between the 6th and 12th September. The 10th September, coinciding with the opening ceremony in Cancun, has been reserved as a day of direct action, with no rules or guidelines. As part of this day labelled “Destroy DSEi” there have been calls for autonomous direct action and blockades, and a critical mass and reclaim the streets actions are being arranged. The Anarchist Federation is supportng the actions aimed at destroying DSEi, and opposing the WTO, along with the whole capitalist system.
The last DSEi exhibition took place on 9-11 as New York and Washington were under attack, unsurprisingly DSEi unlike many other industries decided to keep their doors open to ensure all sides were armed and ready for the ensuing wars. Once again DSEi gears up to ensure the leaders of the world have their tools for repression and destruction, while their friends in the WTO ensure that those not killed by the weapons of war will be sucked dry by their economic policies.
This whole lavish affair, sponsored by the government, takes place in Canning Town, in Newham, one of London’s poorest boroughs, this kind of sick display is another kick in the teeth that working class people have come to expect, the Government seemingly have money to burn to ensure these dealers in death are able to ply their trade in luxury whilst the needs of those who live locally are continually ignored. Lets put a stop to this…
Days of Action include:
Saturday 6th - Unity March in Central London. The Anarchist Youth Network are calling for a “Libertarian bloc” on this march. For more info Email: email@example.com
Sunday 7th and Monday 8th - Conference with workshops.
Tuesday 9th - “Facing the Arms Traders” A peaceful demonstration at Custom House. Wednesday 10th - “Day of Direct Action Blockades” (no rules, no guidelines)
For more information visit:
FREE SIMON CHAPMAN
Whilst attending the counter-protests to the bosses EU summit on the 21st June in Thessaloniki, Greece, UK activist Simon Chapman was brutally attacked by Greek police.
Whilst sitting on the roadside still being beaten undercover police swapped his rucksack with a black one containing Molotov cocktails and an axe. He now faces, if convicted, a minimum of seven years in prison. He has been denied bail for the moment and is in prison in Greece, sharing a cell with nine other people. He was among eight other activists arrested in Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki Prisoners Solidarity are providing support for the prisoners, including Simon. They meet regularly in London and are planning further action and fund-raisers. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
or join the email list by sending a blank email to: email@example.com.
If you can donate you can do it by standing order to:
Account #: 51 172 0009
Sort code 70-00-01
Send cheques payable to “ABC” to:
BM Automatic, London, WC1N 3XX.
ARGENTINEAN AUTONOMISTA TOUR
The Argentina Autonomista Project have just finished a successful tour of Britain and Ireland. The tour consisted of an excellent puppet show telling the history of capitalism in Argentina and the resistance to it by the people.
This was followed by a talk by a member of the militant piquetero group Anibal Veron and then a question and answer session. It was inspiring to hear how people have used direct action to take control of their lives.
The tour made about 20 stops - from Brighton to Edinburgh to Dublin - and was very well attended. Many anarchists from the AF and other groups were involved in the organisation of the tour which resulted in our Argentinian sisters spreading the word about their struggles and also taking over £1000 back in donations to help set up a community based health centre.
For more information visit:
To listen to an interview with Graciela, the puppeteer, Visit: www.bbc.co.uk/
Following a lively and enthusiastic meeting it was decided that Wakefield Anarchist Group and Bradford Anarchist Group would merge to form a new group called “Stateless” working in both cities and the surrounding areas, weekly meetings have been arranged and a new fortnightly newssheet called Stateless is in preparation (Wakey Wurka is to be no more). The group also decided to hold weekly stalls alternatively in Wakefield and Bradford
Stateless, P.O. BOX 6, Wakefield, WF4 3WX, 07715 517 094 Email: Stateless@1in12.com
• Surrey Disarm-DSEi has bee formed to campaign against the arms fair being held in London Docklands in Septmeber (see article over). A pubic meeting has been organised at the Friends Meeting House in Guildford (Ward St, off North Street) at 7.30pm on August 13th.
Contact Surrey Disarm DSEi on: 07952 653 582 or Visit: www.geocities.com/surreydisarmdseigroup/
• In Devon there are around 250 people actively refusing to pay their council tax since it went up in April and have said they will only pay increases in line with inflation (something like 1.5%).
• Hereford residents recently showed that the powers or spontaneous direct action are alive and well - and successful. Hereford city busses were recently re-routed for the first time in 30 years, turning quiet residential areas with no bus stops into busy bus lanes for the convenience of the travel companies. Furious at this, locals staged a sit down protest blocking the busses for around an hour. Later that week First Bus Company announced the re-routing away from the quiet back roads - to equally quiet back roads!
More pressure from local residents forced the bus company to cave in and reverse the bus routes to the former state. Hurray to the sit-downers! (see Rebel Bull 6 at: www.herefordanarchists.cjb.net)
• Residents of Wolverhampton forced the local council into an embarrassing turnaround. The inept council had planned to shut down the main road into the city for 6 weeks. Angry locals announced they would take direct action to prevent the closure, resulting in the council backing down, only shutting small areas of the road.
Last month 5000 people took part in a demonstration against the expansion of halfpenny green airport near Wolverhampton. Expansion would result in both environmental damage/noise pollution for residents in working class districts of Wolverhampton and the countryside.
Rotten to the Core
Gary Mills and Tony Poole are now free, their convictions quashed. The issue is not over yet: “Nothing will ever make me feel that justice has been done.” Remarked Tony. This is the hypocrisy of the system; “Two examples of gross police malpractice have recently come to light. In once case, two local men are fitted-up for murder and serve 14 years in prison despite being innocent. Do the police apologize? Do they, fuck. Is there an enquiry in the this miscarriage of justice? Is there, fuck.”
“In another case some stand-up comedian gatecrashes a party and within a day there are investigations all over the place. There is a full and unreserved apology and much grovelling and scraping from the police.”
More on this can be found here: http://anarchist606.blogspot.com/ and
Prison System in Chaos
Leaked reports reveal prison chaos with 1,200 serious incidents in 2 weeks. For more see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,978249,00.html
Victory for Jailed Anarchist
US anarchist Cassidy Wheeler has his lawsuit settled on 23rd April. Bristol ABC received this communique from the US; “Oregon DOC has to re-write the mail regulations and probably the Security Threat Group criteria as well. What this means is that folks CAN send anarchist related materials to Cassidy. Pamphlets, newspapers, reprints off the INTERNET are exempt. NO ESCAPE PLANS or HOW TO BUILD BOMBS. Of course you can’t encourage people to riot etc. at least not in clear language. Confusion To Our Enemies.” Mike.
Way to go people! For background info Visit: http://geocities.com/bnristol_abc/old_index/index020703.htm
Wobbly held in Israel
Bill Capowski, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (“the Wobblies”), left the US on July 1 to volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement to help the Palestinian people peacefully resist Israeli military occupation. He travelled to a small village in the northern West Bank, near Jenin where with three other internationals and the local population a peace camp was set up.
To make the story short, the four internationals were arrested by the Israeli army on July 9 after refusing to leave the area. They were beaten, taken to a military base, and denied legal counsel. At their deportation hearing they were issued deportation orders, which they would not sign. They were transferred to Ariel Police Station on Thursday. During the ride to the station, the police captain transporting them was driving 93 miles per hour and got into a serious car accident with Bill and the others in the back, who were shackled and not wearing seatbelts. They are injured and need independent medical personnel to evaluate and treat them. The four remain at Ariel Police Station, and are denied visitation from lawyers and others, phone calls, proper food, exercise and natural light.
Subvert and resist
Take precautions when going on demonstrations and don’t take cameras, booze or drugs. If you’re nicked give your name and address then say ‘no comment’ to any other questions.
AUGUST – 1-3: Radical bookfair and film festival 1in12 Club, Albion St, Bradford, 01274 734160 firstname.lastname@example.org www.re-pressed.org.uk
2-15: Trident Ploughshares Camp. The camp is just half a mile from the Trident warhead depot. Contact: email@example.com
11: Oxford Rising Tide demonstration in London. 01865 241097 firstname.lastname@example.org www.risingtide.org.uk
13-17: Earth First! summer gathering. Radical ecological direct action get together. Write c/o Cornerstone Resource Centre, 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds LS7 3HB. Email: email@example.com, Visit: www.earthfirstgathering.org.uk
22-25: Reclaim the Bases summer camp, Bluebell wood AWE Aldermaston, near Reading. www.reclaimthebases.org.uk
SEPTEMBER – 6-12: Shut Down DSEi (Defence Systems Equipment International). DSEi is Europe’s largest trade fair for guns, bombs, military planes, small arms, mines and tanks. A mass international protest has been called. For more info Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Visit: www.dsei.org or write c/o 11 Goodwin Street, London, N4 3HQ. Tel: 0781 7652 029 or 07887 620 379.
10: Day of Direct Action against DSEi. Mass actions are being planned along with assorted affinity group actions. For more info Email: email@example.com
Join the resistance
The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists aiming to
abolish capitalism and all oppression to
create a free and equal society. This is
We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.
As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it, such as working through parliament and
national liberation movements, as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.
Organisation is vital if we’re to beat
the bosses, so we work for a united
anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations.
The Anarchist Federation has members across Britain and Ireland fighting for the kind of world outlined above. Contact us at:
84B, Whitechapel High Street,
London, E1 7QX. Tel: 07946 214 590