Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 111 - April 2009
Read/download now in PDF format from http://www.afed.org.uk
Contents of the April 2009 issue:
* FIGHTING BACK - DUNDEE WORKERS RESISTING THE RECESSION
* FIRES OF RESISTANCE STILL BURNING IN GREECE
* FRENCH WORKERS SHOW HOW IT’S DONE
* ON THE FRONTLINE - WORKPLACE ROUND UP - Toyota & JCB, Lincolnshire posties, Mitie cleaners
* ACTIONS AGAINST IMMIGRATION PRISONS IN MANCHESTER
* SHELL TO SEA ACTIVISTS OCCUPY OFFICE IN BELMULLET
* TWO DECADES ON- THE GREAT POLL TAX REVOLT
* NO PEACE UNDER OBAMA - THE BLOODSHED IN AFGHANISTAN CONTINUES
* RETURN OF THE WORKHOUSE - GOVERNMENT ATTACKS CLAIMANTS
* GLASGOW SCHOOLS FIGHTBACK GLASGOW SCHOOLS FIGHTBACK
FIGHTING BACK - DUNDEE WORKERS RESISTING THE RECESSION
Workers in Dundee have occupied the packaging plant where they worked after bosses laid them off. The group were employed at the Prisme packaging factory, and were told that they were being terminated with immediate effect and no redundancy pay. After demanding a document with full details of their rights, bosses delivered a letter detailing the law on statutory redundancy pay but adding “Unfortunately, we do not have any money to make these payments to you.” The company is not in receivership, and as a result, the workers occupied the factory, locking up its equipment to make sure they get a proper payoff.
The action follows a series of occupations around the world as the recession bites. From New York to the Ukraine, and from Water- ford to Derry, workers facing redundancy with paltry payoffs or none at all have defended themselves by taking over their workplaces and making demands. In the words of one of the Dundee occupiers, “We want to make other employers think twice before they make people like us redundant. If 12 of us can do it then anybody can, and we will hold out for as long as it takes.”
Actions needn’t be as spectacular as occupations to get results. To defend ourselves effectively all we need is confidence in ourselves and our workmates, and the understanding that our needs and the needs of our bosses aren't the same. Our bosses’ interests aren’t to look after us, but to keep profits up. We don’t get them to give us what we need by trusting them, but by leaving them no choice.
The workers request solidarity and donations be sent to the occupation. Contact 07970875455
FIRES OF RESISTANCE STILL BURNING IN GREECE
Despite several months passing since the insurrectionary events of the “Greek December”, social discontent and working class resistance are still very much alive amongst the youth and workers of Greece. March has been characterised by continuing occupations, street battles and clashes with fascist forces.
BREAKDOWN OF EVENTS:
•4th March - In response to a fascist hand grenade attack against an immigrant social centre on the night of February 24th (which fortunately claimed no victims) anti-fascists take to the streets. The march erupts into extended street battles between protesters and provocative riot police forces deployed to attack the demo. During the clashes that spread throughout the city centre several banks and expensive shops are destroyed, while protesters break into the offices of Golden Dawn [Xrysi Avgi] the neonazi parastate organisation responsible for numerous assassination attempts against immigrants, anarchists and the left. The offices are torched to the ground.
•Friday 6th March -The three month anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos’ murder. Protesters occupy the metro/ISAP station of Attiki, a central transit station between the two urban rail systems. All ticket machines are disabled so that transport is rendered free of charge. Later that same afternoon a march takes to the streets to protest against the chain of organised fascist attacks against the Pakistani community in the area. Activists gather at the site of Alexandros’ murder in the evening. The local riot squad is attacked with molotov cocktails and street battles continue throughout the night.
•Saturday 7th March -The local People’s Assembly of Exarcheia occupies the big parking lot between Alexandros Grigoropulos murder site and the heavily guarded PASOK (Socialist Party) HQ in a move to reclaim one of the city’s last open spaces and demand its transformation into a park rather than yet another block of offices. The locals set up a day-long collective meal, with wine and dances, hold workshops and smash the asphalt, planting pine and olive trees. In the evening a big painting, given as a gift to the Greek insurgency by the Zapatistas of Chiapas, was placed on the wall of the building opposite the murder site, already thick with hundreds of letters and a marble plaque from the boy’s family. The day ended in a big concert.
•Monday 9th March - Members of the Open Assembly for Health occupy the cashiers office of the Red Cross Hospital in Athens demanding free health care for all.
•Wednesday 1th March - Dock workers of the Nautico-construction Zone of Piraeus attack the fences and smash the main entrance of the Ministry of the Commercial Navy in their effort to invade and occupy the building. The workers are driven back by the special-forces of the port police through the use of flash-burst grenades. Meanwhile workers of the Ministry of Culture once again blockade the Acropolis demanding their 4 months’ unpaid salaries and re-employment of fired workers. Reluctant to turn the monument into another battleground the President of the Republic pledges to resolve their grievances.
•Friday 13th March -Riots break out in Athens and Salonica in relation to the coming trial of an anarchist, Yorgos Voutsis- Vogiatzis, who was arrested 18 months ago and is accused of bank robbery. In Athens, the down-town market area and residential area of Kolonaki is gutted by protesters who smash dozens of expensive shops, luxury cars and banks. Journalists talk of the greatest damage in the capital since the December insurgency.
•Sunday 22nd March -The death of Katerina Goulioni, a female prison activist known for her struggle against the vaginal inspection of inmates sparks a violent uprising in the Women’s Prison of Thebes. Inmates refuse to return to their cells, and burn and smash the jail premises, while a protest march in solidarity with Goulioni clashes with riot police forces outside the prison. One section of the prison is said to be seriously burned.
•The job losses in Greece continue with the GSEE (General Confederation of Greek Workers) claiming 4,000 losses amongst its members for February alone. With the severity of the damage caused by the economic crisis still unknown the Greek state has been keen to bring in repressive measures against the growing anti-capitalist movement. In the capital the government has announced the introduction of a “rapid reaction” armed police force, the introduction of police dogs on pedestrian patrols and a “zero-tolerance” policy towards political violence. The Minister of Justice has also announced the introduction of a new law that will severely punish hoods, masks and other distorting clothing in protest marches. This is while the right-wing press has been pushing for the government to reopen the issue of university asylum (universities in Greece have asylum status from the police thanks to the historic place that student protesters played in toppling the military junta). These measures are likely to only escalate rather than dampen social tensions as Greek workers continue to be hit hard by the economic crisis.
FRENCH WORKERS SHOW HOW IT’S DONE
Though the economic crisis hasn’t hit the French economy as badly as here, our neighbours across the channel have been leading the way in showing how resistance to the recession should be done.
March saw the second French general strike in as many months, in protest against the economic policies of the Sarkozy government. 350,000 people marched through the centre of Paris, with student protests following the next day against plans for educational ‘reform’. The demos led to rioting at Place de la Nation, after arbitrary police roundups of young people. The strikes were well attended, and enjoyed the overwhelming support of the population, with over 70% of those surveyed saying that they backed the action.
By comparison, on this side of the water, the TUC’s efforts have been paltry. So far, they’ve managed to put out a handbook on how to ‘deal with’ the recession. That’s right -nothing about how to fight against the bosses who are trying to make us pay for their crisis through cuts and layoffs. Nothing on how to take the fight to their partners in government, who are hacking at public sector pay and looking to claw back the cash spent on the banking bailouts by taking the axe to public services. They’ve also organised a bog standard A to B march for the G20 summit on the 28th of March which will be addressed by the standard tedious labour has-beens.
Though there is a tradition of struggle in France which has been absent in this country since the Thatcher government gave working people a serious kicking, we need to take a leaf out of the book of French workers. All people who need to work for a living are going to have to show some strength if we’re going to avoid a hammering – and this is true irrespective of trade or grade, the colour of our skin or whether our collars are blue or white.
ON THE FRONTLINE - WORKPLACE ROUNDUP
•Postal workers wildcat Postal workers in Lincolnshire were out on wildcat strike for three days in March, after bosses implemented significant changes to job descriptions and working practices without consultation or notification. The changes would have meant workers being made to do tasks which they weren’t trained for, on the day they were announced. Two workers were suspended for raising health and safety questions, sparking the walkout. The strikers have returned to work pending an official ballot from the Communication Workers’ Union.
•Sacked city cleaners continue the fight Cleaners working for the Mitie company in the city of London have continued their campaign against their dismissal. The cleaners were sacked after they complained about being shifted onto night shifts without consultation and without any pay increase for the antisocial hours. They believe that they were sacked for prior organising work and winning an increase in pay to the London living wage. The cleaners are members of the Unite union, which has so far failed to back the protests. The workers have been protesting regularly against the company, and have received support and solidarity from fellow cleaners, workers in the offices where they were contracted, and from the Latin American community. Meanwhile, the company’s lawyers have been threatening the sacked cleaners, claiming that their protests are ‘libel’ against the company.
•Unite union sells pay cut to its members The Unite union has rolled over and sold a pay cut of 10% to its members at Toyota, claiming the measure will bring ‘stability’ to the workers. Toyota is cutting wages and production at its plants throughout the UK, and aims to take the drop in demand out of the wages of its operational workforce. The union has been complicit in selling this attack to its members, claiming that in doing so “none of our members’ benefits are eroded and that these skilled workers will remain in place and at work ready for when the upturn comes.” Presumably the union bosses don’t see decent wages as a “benefit”. The cuts follow similar events throughout the industry. Unions recently negotiated a pay cut for their members at JCB, in order to avoid redundancies. Bosses made the pay cut, and sacked the workers anyway.
Recovery is a long way away, and it is far from clear how this crisis, the worst since the war, can be dealt with. If we continue to allow unions to sell attacks on us to their membership we stand to receive a real hammering during this recession. Bosses will use any sign of weakness to make us pay for their crisis. We have to struggle in our interests to get what we need, and if our bosses plead poverty, that’s their problem.
ACTIONS AGAINST IMMIGRATION PRISONS IN MANCHESTER
2,500 people are currently locked up in 13 British immigration prisons. Phil Woolas, the minister for immigration and borders, is seeking the expansion of the detention estate to 4,000 spaces. 30,000 people pass through one of those prisons every year, including 2,000 children. All are held for indefinite periods without trial or sentence.
The way the British state treats asylum seekers is with a mixture of brutality and bureaucratic indifference. Thousands of people wait for years in a state of limbo, unable to work and moved around at whim. They are subjected to vile abuse on a daily basis on the street and in so-called respectable national newspapers like the Mail and Express.
Asylum seekers are scapegoats for the failings of the housing, health and benefits systems. The way they are treated reinforces nationalist myths and fosters racism. We oppose this treatment not only because it is inhumane but also because nationalism and racism weaken us in our fight against cutbacks and for a better society. Some of these people are imprisoned in Pennine House, the immigration prison located at Manchester Airport in Terminal 2.
Pennine House can now hold up to 32 detainees, double its previous capacity. As a so-called residential short-term holding facility, it can hold people for up to seven days until they are released, deported or transferred to other ‘long-term’ detention centres. Phil Woolas, the minister in charge of immigration, is the MP for Oldham East, which is on the edge of Greater Manchester and is the home of a large ethnic minority population.
Manchester No Borders decided to organise two actions to draw attention to this appalling situation. On Friday 13th March two dozen activists from Manchester and Oldham descended on Phil Woolas’s constituency surgery in Oldham as his last visitor left. He was detained for twenty minutes and only freed when the police arrived.
On Saturday 21st March 70 protestors assembled in Manchester’s Albert Square for a rally before heading off by bike and train to the airport to protest outside Penine House. Manchester No Borders website reports the events:
“After arriving at Pennine House it became clear that the police were prepared for us. They had constructed a protest pen inside the detention prison car park and there were lots of police officers and FIT teams present. The group refused to enter the protest pen and ignored all attempts by police officers to make them do so. After spending half an hour listening to more speeches, chanting and flyering passers-by the group decided to leave the car park.
“After leaving, the police attempted to contain the group and escort them back to the train station for “their own safety”. The group refused this and instead moved around the police line and made their way back to the train station and towards home. During this the police became physical with several demonstrators. Additional TAU vans, dog and horse units were also called in but not deployed. Terminal 2 was closed during this.
“This action was the culmination of several weeks of events aimed at highlighting the links between government migration policy, immigration minister Phil Woolas and Pennine house, located at Manchester airport.”
Members and supporters of the Anarchist Federation in Manchester continue to support our comrades in No Borders, and have been present on recent actions.
Manchester No Borders:
SHELL TO SEA ACTIVISTS OCCUPY OFFICE IN BELMULLET
On Monday, 16th March, seven members of the Rossport Solidarity Camp occupied the Shell office in Belmullet, County Mayo, for over an hour, in support of Maura Harrington.
Maura Harrington was sentenced to 28 days in prison after Judge Mary Devins found her guilty of assaulting a Garda during an incident at Pollathomais Pier. A Shell to Sea spokesmen said of this incident, “On the 11th June 2007 at Pollathomais in the region of 20 local people received injuries in relation to Gardaí forcing their way illegally onto private property, yet no Garda has ever been brought to justice as a result of this incident. Instead now that Shell is about to begin their works in Glengad, it seems that the State operation against the community has kicked into gear”.
Speaking at Belmullet court, local fisherman Pat O’Donnell stated that “It’s a sad indictment of the country when a brave lady like Maura is put in jail for defending her community and standing up to corruption and greed; while all the corporate executives and bankers seem to only get golden handshakes for their corruption and greed. Maura Harrington is a political prisoner sentenced at the behest of Shell”. Maura refused to sign a bond that would prevent her from interfering with Shell’s operations in Mayo for a year and also refused to pay €1000 to the Garda Benevolent Fund. Judge Devins has directed Ms Harrington to undergo psychiatric assessment. Judge Mary Devins is the wife of Government Minster Jimmy Devins.
Shell to Sea is an international non-violent campaign, rooted in the Erris community. It seeks to ensure that the proposed Corrib gas terminal and pipeline are constructed offshore, as is best practice. In doing this it also seeks to highlight the negligent environmental, health, safety, planning and economic consequences of this government backed plan.
Please send messages of support to:
N Circular Road
TWO DECADES ON- THE GREAT POLL TAX REVOLT
If you’ve been following media reports on the 25th Miners’ Strike anniversary closely enough, you may have heard mention of how the state had, since the mid1970s, carefully planned for working class revolt in the steel and coal industries. They did this by stock-piling coal and increasing reliance on nuclear energy and oil as fuel, attacking trade unions and hiring nonunion labour, and introducing a “mobile squad of police equipped and prepared to uphold the law against violent picketing” -also known as the riot police! All these things were used against the miners during the 1984 strike. This is a prime example of state forward-planning against the political threat of ‘communism’ and working class resistance.
Five years after the Miners’ Strike the Thatcher government was feeling confident, and wanted to change the way local government was funded. To do this they would get rid of the housing rates (paid per house with an amount depending on its value) and introduce the Community Charge, a flat rate per person - which quickly became known as the Poll Tax. The revolt against it is now legendary. Most importantly though, this is one of the best examples of our rulers finding out that their subjects can also plan ahead!
From April 1989, Poll Tax bills were to be sent out in Scotland a year before it came to England and Wales, and registration forms were to be delivered south of the border. But in the months leading up its introduction in Scotland, activists (including anarchists and socialists) had been hard at work canvassing support for a mass non-payment campaign. Instead of any real attempt to oppose the ‘Tory Tax’ the opposition Labour Party, with its many councils afraid of the damage to their funding base, had launched the non-political ‘Stop It’ campaign, which was expressly against ‘illegal’ non-payment. On the ground though, things were very different. While registration forms were being burned in the street, Eric Milligan, head of Lothian (Edinburgh) region Labour council’s Finance Department was on the attack, saying in April 1989, “As a socialist, I have no time for tax-dodgers”. Likewise, although there was some excellent action from workers, trade union response to the Poll Tax was mealy- mouthed and out of step with the anger of residents who could not and would not pay the new tax. Benefits workers refused to act as ‘snoopers’. Manchester postal workers took unofficial action, refusing to sort registration forms for delivery. Sadly, the action later collapsed in the face of both union and management opposition. But at the same time, council officials were having doors slammed in their faces and were being chased off the streets. The popular revolt came as a huge shock to Labour, and in December 1989, Eric Milligan was forced to concede, “Such is the scale of the non-payment movement in our region that we may have to write-off large sums of outstanding poll tax.”
What had made the anti-poll tax campaign so successful was not the standard methods of the Left -trade unionism, workplace-only action and sucking up to Labour, but community self-organisation that had begun as early as 1987. The demand “Don’t Collect’”by councils had mostly fallen on deaf ears and it was the “Don’t Register” and “Don’t Pay” slogans that had found a resonance. Door-to-door leafleting and public meetings explained just how many people were not paying, and that you could join them! Anti-Poll Tax groups were being set up not just one per town, but many per neighbourhood. In October 1988, six months before the registration deadline in Scotland, there were already 23 local groups in Edinburgh and 31 in Glasgow, and in a MORI poll, 42% of people said they would support a non-payment campaign. Not only that, but Scottish groups started visiting newly formed anti- poll tax groups in England to spread confidence and tactics, and vice-versa. So by the time the bills were sent out in England and Wales, we were more than prepared to fight and win.
Our communities will need to find this kind of strength again. While councils are beginning to cut services and jobs, the threat of massive council tax increases are just around the corner. Furthermore, in Scotland, council authorities are still pursuing individuals and even partners of Poll Tax non-payers, using tactics like freezing bank accounts. The key lesson from the Poll Tax is that local councils are not our friends, especially when the going gets tough economically. So, as more and more people become unable to pay bills, at the same time as supporting and encouraging workers who are preparing to fight job cuts and wage freezes, we must plan to fight council bureaucrats, courts, snoopers and bailiffs.
Find out more:
•Beating the Poll Tax - ACE pamphlet No.4. Available from the AF website
•Poll Tax Rebellion - Book by Danny Burns, AK Press, 1992
•Nasty Scottish Tax Collectors Still Chasing -Article in Resistance no 102 (www.afed.org.uk/res/reslist102.html)
NO PEACE UNDER OBAMA - THE BLOODSHED IN AFGHANISTAN CONTINUES
Given the amount of media attention focussed on Iraq recently, it’s not surprising that the war in Afghanistan has slipped from the spotlight. President Obama’s high-profile announcement of a withdrawal timetable for Iraq – which is simply a commitment to the implementation of what had been put in place by Bush – will see the majority of combat troops withdrawn by 2010, though with a commitment of 50,000 to stay beyond that into 2011 and possibly beyond. Despite the fact that Obama’s implementation of Bush’s policy should raise questions about his supposed ‘anti-war’ credentials, one issue which has escaped much of the analysis is the fact that the military presence in Afghanistan is being beefed up at the same time as it is being wound down in Iraq.
This year, Obama has continued Bush’s policy of increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan, with a redeployment of troops to the country which could double the US military presence. The surge has thus far seen 20,000 extra US troops deployed or announced, and could lead to a total of 30,000 extra troops deployed, doubling the number already in Afghanistan.
Western policy, despite all the grand talk recently from the likes of John Hutton about this being a defining moment for the world and a battle that ‘democracy’ will win, is one of containment. Though this conflicts with the stated aims of the war in Afghanistan, it is the only course of action which the West has a remote chance of fulfilling, though this is not by any means given. Despite eight years of war, the US and its allies have failed to capture Osama Bin Laden, have failed to break up Al-Qaeda and have failed to break the Taliban. But this failure should raise questions beyond the immediate issue of increasing military strength in order to meet these goals.
It is clear that Al-Qaeda is not, and never was a centralised organisation that can be dismantled in any meaningful way. As a decentralised network, it certainly cannot be decapitated by killing or capturing a figure such as Osama Bin Laden, assuming that Bin Laden is even still alive. Similarly, it is by no means clear that the Taliban, which is supposed to be the major antagonist in Afghanistan, is an organisation that can be defeated through conventional military means. More fundamentally, it is not even clear that ‘the Taliban’ exists meaningfully – US, British and other NATO forces are engaged in combat against Pashtun guerrillas, who appear to be operating in a decentralised and localised manner. Whether this is a reconstituted Taliban or, much more likely, a loose alliance of Taliban elements and local Pashtun people animated by hostility towards the occupiers has never been properly demonstrated, despite the way in which the Taliban are routinely portrayed as the single enemy western forces are fighting.
NATO cannot smash its antagonists, meet its war aims and rebuild Afghanistan from scratch, and it never has been capable of doing this. This is because these stated aims are not the reason for the US presence in the country. The motive for the US occupation is the same reason for every other attempt to occupy Afghanistan – the need for military presence in a strategically important part of the world. Afghanistan occupies a key point near oil-rich central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, and the Russian and Chinese spheres of influence. Its strategic importance has seen it fought over repeatedly throughout history, having been part of Russian, British, Soviet and now US imperial ambitions. In every case, the local Pashtun tribes have fought insurgency campaigns, as they are doing now.
The war in Afghanistan will likely drag on with modified rhetoric and tactics for as long as it is viable to maintain a presence in the country, while at the same time much of Eastern and Southern Afghanistan is effectively controlled by the insurgents. Obama’s plan of ‘negotiating’ with the Taliban, whilst doubling troop numbers, shows that the strategy is a defensive one, looking to consolidate what control is there, not crush the insurgency. And as the war drags on, the death toll will rise. Civilian populations always suffer terribly from war, and in this case tens of thousands are dead from shooting, bombings, starvation, displacement and exposure. The number of deaths has increased sharply recently, and with the latest troop surge this trend will only continue.
Unlike the leftists who are content to cheer on people who would happily kill them, we do not pretend that Islamist ideology has anything to offer people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nonetheless, we oppose the bloodshed and brutality of these wars, and demand their end. We also recognise the hypocrisy of the US and UK claiming to be leading the fight against reactionary Islamists whilst bankrolling the most brutally repressive Islamist regime in the world – Saudi Arabia. We oppose imperialist conflict whilst rejecting the idea that this means supporting the Taliban, for the same reasons that we reject the idea that we have any interests in common with ‘our’ state.
The movements against the wars in the UK failed miserably for reasons that anarchists have been clear about from the beginning. We don’t get concessions by politely marching from A to B and sticking within the framework of ‘legitimate’ politics. The government will do whatever they want unless they are frightened into doing otherwise. The only way we will get meaningful results is by disrupting the normal functioning of society, or threatening to do so. The failure of the Stop the War Coalition to advocate strike action, such as that of train drivers who refused to transport munitions, or direct action, such as the actions of those who decommissioned planes and other military equipment, though being entirely predictable, was what allowed the war to take place. Governments will only ever be frightened by the threat of collective action. Instead, we have seen toothless demonstrations, letter-writing and petitions. If we are to oppose future militarism, such as threatened strikes against Iran or Pakistan, we must be honest about what serious opposition actually means.
The cost of the ‘war on terror’:
•Iraq civilian casualties: 1,033,000 (from Opinion Research Business, a company which has also conducted research for the Conservative party)
•Afghanistan civilian casualties: 30,500
RETURN OF THE WORKHOUSE - GOVERNMENT ATTACKS CLAIMANTS
Whilst the pockets of the government may be bottomless when it comes to throwing money at the financial industry, it is a different story entirely when it comes to the needs of the increasing numbers of welfare claimants.
March saw the government pushing through its Welfare Reform Bill, a piece of legislation which aims to effectively abolish welfare for single parents and disabled people, and introduce work-for-dole conditions for the unemployed. The disabled and single parents can be made to ‘prepare for work’, as directed by Jobcentreplus, at any time or have their benefits cut off. Income support is to be abolished, and increased conditionality brought in for all claimants. The message is clear – it doesn’t matter whether you are disabled, or are forced to care for children full time. If you’re not working for someone, you are socially worthless.
Similarly, the unemployed are to be directed to undertake any ‘work-related’ activity at any time during their claim or lose their benefits. As part of this, ‘workfare’ is to be introduced. Though it is being suggested that this will only be relevant for the long-term unemployed, the legislation allows for claimants to be made to work full time at any point, on projects open to private contractors. This means full time work for the dole, which is a quarter of the minimum wage. In a stunning use of New Labour newspeak, this is being called “compulsory voluntary work”. It is effectively community service for the ‘crime’ of being unemployed, and will consist of similar activity, such as litter picking and graffiti removal.
The absurdity of bringing in these measures now is clear to any sensible person. 4 million unemployed are forecast for the end of the year. The fact that unemployment is a problem caused by capitalism, not a question of laziness, is more obvious than at any time in recent history. Bullying people into finding work by turning the dole into community service won’t have any effect when there is no work to be had! Even if the economy were working ‘normally’, studies show that workfare doesn’t ease unemployment, as it doesn’t improve employability and doesn’t give people the time to look for work.
The government is squeezing claimants to claw back the £2.2 Trillion debt they’re looking at after the banking bailouts, just as they are cutting back funding for services like the NHS. They’ve been squeezing claimants for some time – if benefits had increased at the same rate as pay over the last decade (which hasn’t kept up with real inflation anyway), dole claimants would be on £100 a week. The legislation also allows for the privatisation of important parts of the Jobcentreplus service, and the recent use of privatisation to drive down wages and conditions in the NHS and Royal Mail shows that this is likely to happen to Jobcentreplus workers too.
We can’t expect the government to be altruistic. The only way to look out for ourselves is to get organised, and fight back. There have already been demonstrations against the legislation, but we need to follow the example of unemployed workers in the last Depression, who got themselves organised and took to the streets as a mass force.
GLASGOW SCHOOLS FIGHTBACK GLASGOW SCHOOLS FIGHTBACK
Plans hatched by Glasgow City Council to close 25 primary schools and nurseries have been met with fury by both parents and the wider Glasgow community. Reaction to these plans have seen thousands-strong demonstrations, roof top occupations and lock-ins as parents and the communitymake their anger heard. Despite the city council, over recent years, selling off its social housing stock and passing common good property such as libraries, museums and sports facilities to private concerns, they still seem to have managed to spend £6,000,000 over-budget. Due to the council displaying the financial acumen of a jakey on giro day* they now claim that it’s the city’s children, and by extension its future, that has to suffer.
Council plans to force children out of grade A and B (i.e. top) quality buildings into less suitable and even grade D (dangerous) buildings has been met with staunch resistance.
The 31st of January saw parents chain themselves to the entrance to a council shindig, forcing the politicians to clamber underneath them to gain entrance. this followed parents earlier chaining themselves to the entrance of the city chambers in protest at the council meeting on the school closures.
On the 14th of February the city saw a massive march as kids, parents, teachers and other Glaswegians marched in protest around the city centre. Many realised however that protest marches are not going to stop the councils schemes and parents have begun to take more militant action. Parents at Our Lady of the Assumption primary school in north west Glasgow mounted a protest on their kids school roof. When asked by a reporter whether they thought they were setting a good example to the children the occupier shouted back from the rooftop “Aye! Got to fight for your rights!”.
These attacks by the council cannot be seen in isolation - the Labour controlled council has been on a fiscal bender ever for years now and will not stop cutting back services and destroying Glaswegian culture and communities until they are stopped and removed by the people of the city.
Without a doubt this struggle will go on, the people of Glasgow can only be pushed so far. The city council will be deciding upon the fate of these schools, kids and communities on April 21st. Pressure will continue to mount to keep the schools open until that point and beyond.
*The Anarchist Federation would like to apologise to Glasgow’s colourful street drinking community for implying association with the city cooncil.
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 Anarchist Communism. 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:
London, WC1N 3XX.
Also visit: http://www.afed.org.uk and http://www.iaf-ifa.org
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