Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 81 - Feb 2006
Everybody knows by now that the pensions system is in crisis. Major
employers such as the Co-op, Provident Financial, Rentokil,
According to a BBC source a 30 year old aiming to retire at 65 will need to save £260 a month in order to live reasonably well. A man aged 40 would have to save £450 a month. How many can afford that? Women, who are more likely to take breaks in their employment will need to save even more.
It's not as if the state will step in to help. At the moment the basic state pension is a miserly £86.50 per week and £131.20 for a couple. Now the government is about to make us work a lot longer before we can get a state pension. You know the thinking behind that: make `em work till they drop.
What has brought this about? The media will tell you it's due to an ageing population living too long and so making too heavy demands on both the state and private pension schemes. The reality is however, that this likelihood was known decades ago and nothing was done to avoid the problem which is now hitting us. Successive governments could have taxed firms more heavily to meet state pension requirements but nothing was done. Rather, from Thatcher onwards governments have reduced taxes on the rich at the expense of the rest of us.
Another argument regarding company pensions is that since these pensions depend on stock market returns, with falls in share prices the money is no longer available. This of course is rubbish. Companies exist to benefit the shareholders and not their workers.So, when the stock market was booming in the nineties, what did these companies who are now pleading pensions poverty, do? They took so-called "pensions holidays". In other words, they stopped paying into pension funds or drastically reduced the amount they paid in. According to one source between 1997 and 2002, employers running final salary schemes grabbed back over a billion pounds. This of course was then given to shareholders.
So, the picture is clear, once again the workers get screwed to benefit the rich.
This crisis is not going to go away. Without a widespread, prolonged and determined fightback we can look forward to an old age either being stuck in the workplace or living in poverty. We must make the pensions issue Labour's poll tax. The war starts now!
ID CARD PLANS STALLING
The House of Lords has dealt a blow to Labour's ID Card Bill, criticising the enormous cost, the obvious insecurity of personal information in a centralised database, the way the government wants cards to be used for accessing public services, and attacking compulsion partly as a result of it not being in the Labour manifesto.
In February we are expected to see the start of biometric passports - starting with a chip that stores your digital photo and, we assume, with future capacity for finger-prints or eye-scans - and driving licences are also due to be enhanced with biometrics. These are seen as a back-door to a wider spread of compulsory ID, and could still be, even though the Lords appear to have voted down this kind of coupling last week.
The government is also creating a separate database for all children in
Corporate Identity: a report which digs up more dirt on the companies
who are developing and cashing in on ID card and database technology for the UK
scheme. Available from Corporate Watch, 16B
Defending Anonymity: thoughts for struggle against identity cards. Get this free pamphlet from the Anarchist Federation. Visit http://www.afed.org.uk
Defy-ID: Find out about groups in your area. Visit: http://www.defy-id.org.uk
ON THE FRONTLINE
Our monthly look at workplace struggles:
It's not often that we can bring you news of a Europe-wide militant
protest that ends in almost total success, but this month just
happens to be one of those rare times. January 16th saw over 10
thousand dockers from every country in the EU
at the European Parliament to protest the proposed introduction of
Port Package 2 - a plan to 'liberalise' EU docks and associated
labour that amounts to a full frontal attack on wages, safety
conditions and workers rights.
Tens of thousands also gathered across other cities in
down ports in solidarity with those gathered at
The main demo was loudly and aggressively militant from the start and
became more vocal as the day wore on - eventually culminating in a
mass stoning of the Parliament itself where 100 square metres of
glass was broken and MEPs harangued. The police turned their water
cannons on the protesters and when this failed the tear gas was
brought out. Too late though - the dockers had made their mark. And
the proposal was thrown out by a massive margin of 532 against 120.
The lesson here is that European wide working class co-ordination is
not only possible but that it can be carried out on a very militant
basis and very importantly, win. It can achieve its aims far better
then months of lobbying with the states bureaucrats and their mirror
image amongst the union tops ever will. Of course, there will be
attempts to smuggle this proposal through again - when capital can't
get in the front door it goes straight round the back, but with the
lessons learnt form this victory it's going to have another fight on
Closer to home we just have space to report that strikes by tube
station staff have been continuing and that drivers are now also
likely to initiate strike action in their long running dispute with
TFL as well.
The transport network has also been hit by a wildcat strike on
busses over management spying on drivers, whilst train drivers have
also been striking in the midlands. Heathrow Terminal 5 is also
looking like it will face another new round of walkouts by building
workers as Laing O'Rourke are up to their normal penny pinching
tricks again. Work And Pensions staff are also considering whether to
take 48 hour action in the coming weeks.
I have a big respect for anyone who volunteers to do work for a
charity. After all, charities cater for the needs of people let down
by the "welfare" state. And there are a lot.
But one thing puzzles me. How is it that some people seem to be
making big money out of aid. And, I'm not talking about corrupt
politicians in the third world or companies profiting from hidden
clauses in aid bills. I'm talking about those working in the top jobs
Take a look at the jobs section in a recent issue of the Guardian. A
charity which aims to provide drinking water in developing countries
is looking for a regional manager at £27,000 plus. A
up to £40,000 plus. That's a lot more than my wages mate!
It is particularly galling that their webpage states that "a gift of
just £2 a month can help bring a child safe drinking water,
sanitation and hygiene education. Your donations could help make the
difference between life and death."
It works out that these two posts are taking safe drinking water away
from around 30,000 kids! It seems also that the charity spends nearly
£6 million on administration, fund-raising and publicity.
But the big prize goes to another charity which is looking for an
International Programme Director at a pittance of a mere £67,000.
Mind you, they request volunteers to work for nothing.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to discourage people from giving
to charity or volunteering. It do it too, every now and again. What
I'm saying is these bodies aren't going to change the world and
neither will Sir Bob Geldof. If you are trying to change the world
(and it badly needs it) it will take a lot more than charity. It
actually needs a revolution, nothing less, and anyone who says
otherwise is wishing for the stars.
ACTION ROUND UP
Rossport Solidarity Camp
Rossport Solidarity Camp is set to re-open on the 25th of February.
The camp is part of a community based struggle against Shell, Statoil
and refinery in a rural part of the West of Ireland. The camp was
closed over winter as building work cannot be carried on then. Last
summer a variety of mass direct actions shut down construction, and
inspired people facing similarly unwanted developments around the
island. The re-opening of the camp is to be preceded by solidarity
actions, targeting Shell, Statoil, or the Norwegian state (part
owners of Statoil).
These are happening on Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th of
February, confirmed locations for actions include Clare,
basic information about how to get there and what to expect, it's at
www.struggle.ws/rsc/ and the camp can also be contacted at 00353
9720944. More people are very welcome, for a short or long stay.
Reclaim our lives - No WTO!
LOCAL GRASSROOTS ACTIVISTS, from
17th, in opposition to the corrupt and undemocratic World Trade
Organisation (WTO) and in solidarity with all those struggling
against it's policies World-wide. The various groups, fighting
poverty, climate change, capitalism and more, spent several weeks
discussing their plans in co-ordination with each other, and from
very early on decided to hold this demonstration on commercial land
owned by the Oracle shopping centre, a place where there is no legal
right to protest. This was to highlight the privatisation,
commercialisation and loss of open, public spaces across the
Court Victory for Protesters
A judge has ruled that seven anti-apartheid protesters who had
blockaded the Israeli agricultural export company, Agrexco
case to answer and the case was dismissed. On November 11th 2004 the
seven protesters succeeded in shutting down the
for over eight hours, blocking both the entrance and exit to the
Info from: firstname.lastname@example.org
SCAB FERRY OPERATOR SHOWS ITS TRUE COLOURS
The Irish Ferries dispute is over but the threat of summary sackings
and casualisation remains. Dozens of workers occupied two ferries
for more than three weeks in appalling conditions, locking themselves
in engine and control rooms below the water line, with little food
and the lights on twenty-four hours a day. The MVs Isle of Inishmore
and Ulysses were occupied when they docked in
apparent that their employer, Irish Ferries, had secretly imported
replacement crews from the
seafarers with agency workers on 3.60 Euros (about £2.80) an hour.
The crews were offered immediate dismissal, `voluntary' redundancy
worth half their entitlement or re-employment at 3.60 Euros (the
Irish minimum wage is 7.65 Euros). Some choice!
The scab crew came aboard incognito with security guards who then
changed into uniforms and riot gear, ready to summarily sack and
expel the Irish crew from the ships. The company says that the
security presence was "necessary" to ensure access by safety and
maintenance personnel while at the same time illegally denying the
trade unions access to their members; another example of how private
property allows bosses to ignore the law when it suits them. "We
have a duty and responsibility to protect our assets", said a company
spokesman quite. The Irish courts ruled after the 2004 dispute
that terms and conditions previously agreed should stay in place
until 2007. How do you get round this inconvenient little problem?
Sack the workers and replace them with new ones employed on a
different basis. Some courts, some justice
The dispute has attracted widespread support. The MV Normandy had to
crew of eastern European workers, ready to be put aboard had to be
driven away in taxis after the SIPTU union said it would not work
with the company if it persisted in trying to put scab crews onto
Irish ships. An unofficial lockout of Irish Ferries ships across
at Holyhead on December 6th in support of the crew occupying the MV
Ulysses drew 60+ demonstrators of whom 25 came from
many you might think but more than made up for by 100,000 who
attended rallies in
government action to combat exploitation of migrant workers and the
displacement of jobs. However SIPTU leaders could not and would not
go beyond these half day actions rather than calling for all- out
The company has a long history of acrid labour relations and on at
least one occasion previously had allegedly threatened to use tear
gas on strikers. In this dispute they have because the law allows
them to threatened to withdraw redundancy offers by going into
(temporary) liquidation, no doubt emerging later under a Cypriot flag
and registered office in
of Inishmore, said: "We've given a lot of things away to Irish
Ferries over the last two years. They've made savings of £3.5m by
taking away conditions from us. We've only our jobs left and that's
what we're trying to secure." Although Irish Ferries says cost-
cutting is necessary, its local competitor, Stena Lines, says it has
no similar plans and will continue to use local crews.
On December 14th the three week dispute at Irish Ferries came to an
end. SIPTU claimed that the deal protects a "threshold of decency".
The deal means a two-tier workforce with those staff who reject
redundancy keeping their old wages and conditions but all new staff
being paid just 7.65 Euros an hour and having longer working hours
and fewer holidays. Irish Ferries can re-flag its ships; a three year
no-strike agreement and all disputes to be settled by binding
arbitration. However the Latvian workers have seen their pay doubled;
they also have gained a month's paid leave for every two months they
work, originally the company wanted one months leave for every three
Everyone close to the dispute recognizes that the replacement crews
were duped by the company and are as much victims of Irish Ferries
duplicity as anyone. People all over the world should be able to have
a decent living.
Globalization and the spread of rampant free-market capitalism is not
a far-away problem of peasants driven from their land or bulldozed
shantytowns but here and now.
Our regular look at history:
ON APRIL 25TH 1974 a radical faction within the Portuguese Armed
Forces, the MFA, revolted against the 50 year old fascist
Left-wing activists began returning from exile, and new political
parties sprouted up. The parties all used the situation to gain
political power in the government. Ordinary folk, in contrast, used
the situation to improve social conditions in their communities and
workplaces through new autonomous organisations. This month we'll
look at some of the workplace struggles.
Workers immediately began struggling against the harsh economic
conditions. Strikes had been met by brutal force under the fascist
regime but lack of experience proved no deterrent to the Portuguese
working class. During the summer of 1974 over 400 companies
registered strikes. One of the most significant was within the TAP
airline. An assembly, held without union officials, drew up a list of
demands including the purging of staff who showed "anti-working class
attitudes", wage increases and the right to reconsider collective
contracts whenever the workers pleased. The demands were not accepted
by the government, so in response the workers declared a strike,
elected a strike committee and posted pickets. All international
flights were halted. The new Minister for Labour, a Communist Party
member, called on the workers to resume work Eventually the
government sent the military to occupy the airport and arrest the
strike committee. Two hundred workers were sacked but were reinstated
after mass demonstrations and threats of further strikes. A shorter
working week was gradually introduced.
It had became common for assemblies of workers to elect delegates to
the committees. These committees were normally elected annually and
were subject to recall. By the end of October 1974 there was about
2,000 of these committees. In the summer of 1975 the movement began
to develop further. Frequently, when demands were ignored by
management, workers would occupy their places of employment and in
many cases set up systems of self-management. Workers would take to
running the businesses themselves. In one factory 1,100 textile
workers rid themselves of the management and elected a workers'
committee to run things.
To be continued next month
Prison abolition seminar
Over Fifty people met in
of prisons ,with two speakers and a discussion.
Reference was made to the old Radical Alternatives to Prison and a
decision was made to found a new group which would both discuss the
abolition of prison and involve itself in activity around things like
new prisons being built etc. For more information visit:
Dutch Ploughshares activist Turi Vaccaro was sentenced to six months
following his disarming of two F16 bombers. His action was carried
out to remember the 60th anniversary of the bombing of
also has to either pay 750,000 Euro compensation for the damage he
caused or spend a further year in prison.
HvB De Boschpoort, Nassausingel 26, 4811 DG
Writing to prisoners
Prison is isolation, so contact with the outside world, letting a
prisoner know s/he is not forgotten, helps break this down. Sometimes
just a friendly card can boost their morale. Writing for the first
time to a complete stranger can be awkward. A card with some well
wishes, a bit about who you are and asking what you can do to help is
often enough. Don't expect prisoners to write back. Sometimes, the
number of letters they can receive/write is restricted, or they just
might not be very good a writing back. To help, include a couple of
stamps or, if writing abroad, International Reply Coupons (IRC's)
that you can get from any post office. Write on clean paper and don't
re-use envelopes. Remember a return address, also on the envelope.
Ask what the prisoner can have sent to them, as this varies from
prison to prison. Books and pamphlets usually have to be sent from a
recognised distributor/bookshop/publisher. Tapes, videos, writing
pads, zines, toiletries and postal orders are some of the things you
might be able to send.
More info at: http://www.brightonabc.org.uk
When going on demonstrations stay sober, don't talk to the police and
if you're arrested give only your name and address then say `no
comment' to any other questions. For more info visit: www.ldmg.org.uk
3 Peace Not War Live Music Room At The Synergy Project. A five-room
spectacular at SeOne Club, with a diverse showcase of positive anti-
war musicians. Contact email@example.com or 07905 514049. See also
4 Northern Anarchist Network Conference. Speakers will include
Dennis Pye on history of syndicalism with special reference to Tom
Mann and Bolton. There will also be a discussion on the 70th
anniversary commemoration in
4 Justice for Nuur Saeed. Demonstrate at 2pm, Plumstead Police
Station, London SE18. This Saturday will see a picket of Plumstead
Police Station, South East London, to protest at the tragic and
suspicious death of 22 year old Somali man Nuur Saeed as a result of
a police operation.
For more info Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 Save Council housing - Mass Lobby and rally 12 noon Central Hall,
Westminster 020 7987 9989 http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk
14 Bell-ringing demo at
Farm Rd, Moulsecoomb,
18 London Anti-war Action Forum - a space where groups and
individuals can come together to talk about and plan actions (forming
ad hoc coalitions where appropriate).
Whitechapel, London E1 1ES (nearest tube Aldgate East).
For more info 0845 458 2564, e-mail email@example.com
22 March 20 It will be ten years from the first eviction of the No
M66 Campaign in February 2006. There will be an exhibition about the
No M66 Campaign, at the
23 Film: The Battle of Algiers - with many contemporary resonances,
this rarely shown black and white film from the 60's has become
something of a classic, with beautiful cinematography and a wonderful
musical score to go with it.
Haringey Independent Cinema will be showing this. The cinema is on
the last Thursday of each month and presently at the West Green
Learning Centre in West Green Road, N15. Doors open 7.15, film starts
at 7.30. Tickets are £3/£2 (low or unwaged). They will be going to
the Fountain pub afterwards to chat about the films, socialise and
have a drink.
23 London Radical History Group presents The Radical History of
Cycling. The subversive nature of bikes, trikes and penny farthings
revealed. 56a INFO SHOP
For more info email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ANARCHIST FEDERATION
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
The Anarchist Federation has members across
fighting for the kind of world outlined above.
If you're interesting in joining contact us at:
Subscriptions to resistance costs £4 from the address above for 12
issues. A two issue subscription to our magazine, Organise! for
revolutionary anarchism, is also £4.
You can subscribe to resistance by email for free via http://www.afed.org.uk