Each May Day we remember the history of workers in struggle for the 8-hour day, which is behind the holiday. This struggle is still relevant. The material conditions of the working class in many places is abysmal and the 8-hour day is still a goal to be achieved, not only because of its absence but because many people simply cannot afford to live on what they could earn in 8 hours. In many places where decent conditions were won due to historic struggles, these gains have been eroded by the advance of the capitalist offensive. Hundreds of millions of working people live in stress and anxiety due to their precarious situation, often not able to afford the basic necessities of life – nevermind fully enjoying the fruits of their labour.
At the same time that this is happening, another, much more dangerous thing is spreading around the world. Anxiety and frustration has driven parts of the working class, always with the manipulation of elites, into worldviews that are both extremely divisive for the working class, as well as highly authoritarian and anti-libertarian in their nature. Scores of working people have turned to nationalist rhetoric and different forms of social conservatism, wrongly thinking that measures such as building walls or stepping up the police state will somehow save them.
At this time in history, we, members of the International Workers' Association, face a number of extremely hard tasks, in light of a mass shift in the ideas which dominate in some of the places we operate and in light of urgency to counter these trends. The IWA has never been just a union federation. It has never only been about just organizing workers in their economic struggles. The IWA is the workers' federation which stands for the new world in our hearts, where all of humanity is equal and the ideologies which divide us, drive us to war, hatred, discrimination etc., are replaced by the libertarian ideal of freedom, respect and dignity for all.
We are sorry to hear of the death of long-time anarchist militant and member of the CNT Spain, Jose Luis Garcia Rua. Garcia Rua passed peacefully on Friday morning, January 6 at the age of 93. Rua was born in 1923 in Asturias, Spain. His father had been a member of the CNT who perished on the Oveido front during the Civil War. In 1939, he was forced into exile in France, eventually winding up in a concentration camp of Argelers and Barcarès, however he was able to return later than year.
Garcia Rua began a career as an academic, but worked in construction, metal and mines. He was involved in anti-Francoist activity and ultimately repressed for his role in a miners' strike. He lost his job in academia for some time but ultimately became a professor of philosophy in the University of Granada in the mid-70s. In 1977, after the death of Franco, he was chosen Secretary of the Andalucian region of the CNT, a position he held twice. Between 1986-1990, he served as the General Secretary of the CNT and from 1997-2000, as the General Secretary of the IWA.
He is the author of numerous articles and books, both related to anarchosyndicalism as well as his academic interests. On May Day 2015, he made an impassioned speech about the International Workers Assocation, calling on comrades to continue the tradition of militant anarchosyndicalism. This was the last speech that he made in public.
We send our condolences to his family.
The NSF had an 100th Anniversary event on October 29th as start for the NSF Centennial. It was held in a wooden house in Grunerløkka in Oslo and it was very well attended. Greetings were held from IWA Secretariat (with seat in Poland) by the General Secretary, a comrade from SFManchester,
and a comrade from Ørestad LS, which is an IWA Friends organization. Later, it appeared 9 workers from a new grassroot initiative of transport workers from the big transport terminals in Oslo and surroundings, and they made a greeting to the NSF.
There were first speeches about the founding of NSF on December 28th of 1916 and the numerous direct actions the following years. The NSF was also in the forefront of making actions by taking the 8th hour day, and started to agitate for the 6th hour day as early as in 1919. A health worker/ historian , who is writing two books about the NSF, spoke about the development in Rjukan, a community where the NSF had 600 affiliates in 1920, and how the local branch of the main Confederation, the LO, sometimes cooperated, but most times undermined the NSF and its direct actions.
Another speech was about NSF activities in the twenties and thirties. The NSF joined the IWA at its founding Congress in 1922, and has since taken actively part in it. The NSF kept organizing in the twenties and thirties. They had also a women`s group that actively took part in the NSF
organizing efforts, and many of its members were also arrested during the World War II for illegal work against the Nazis.
On December 2-4, 2016, the XXVI Congress of the International Workers' Association took place in Warsaw, Poland. Delegates and observers from 12 countries took part in the Congress, which reached a number of important decisions. The Congress reaffirmed its committment to organizing on egalitarian principles and also to increase the focus on workplace activities over a broader area.
One of the decisions was to establish a loose guideline for new organizations that would like to join the International. Organizations which would like to affiliate should consider how they may develop to be more stable organizations, with activity involving workers and the workplace. The IWA has also formed a working group with the aim of helping to develop strategies in this respect. It is expected that the working group will help Sections to seek inspiration to develop a strategy which is realistic in their current circumstances, taking various factors into account, such as the social climate in their location, the history of the organization and its current capacities.
The above perhaps marks a turning point in the IWA as it is the first attempt to develop such cooperation between the Sections in an organized fashion.
On the 2nd – 4th December 2016 there was a well attended congress of the IWA held in Warsaw, Poland whereupon it was resolved to reaffirm the aims, tactics and principles held by the IWA and to commit to strengthening and growing the international.
The congress has approved the creation of workplace organizer training and strategy for workplace activities groups. It was also decided to organize promotional events throughout the world to facilitate the dissemination of our ideas and encourage workers to join our ranks.
lt has come to our attention that various organizations have been invited to a conference ostensibly about „rebuilding the IWA” that is to be held in November in Spain. Due to the fact that this has caused some confusion as to the nature of said conference and to avoid any misunderstandings, we would like to clarify a few matters.
The Congress of the lnternational Workers' Association is to be held at the beginning of December in Poland. This Congress and only this Congress is where decisions about the proposals submitted to the Association can be made by the entirety of its member Sections.
The conference being held in Spain, to which some organizations were invited, is not organized by the IWA, although it claims to be a „conference for the preparation of the IWA refoundation”. This initiative is thus a split where outside organizations are being invited to decide over the future of a federation to which they do not belong. It is held against the statutes, agreements and principles of the very federation it claims to be refounding and its aim is to exclude a dozen other member Sections from the process.
The case against a group of people accused of having attacked the Greek Embassy in Belgrade has gone on for 7 years already. On July 25, a new chapter in this grotesque process opened when judge Goran Ramic presented a new sentence, convicting four of the defendents and acquitting one. Ratibor Trivunac was sentences to an 8 month suspended sentence for 3 years, Ivan Vulovic, Sanja Dojkic and Ivan Savic were condemned to six months suspended for 2 years. Tadej was aquitted. This is not the end of the case, since we will appeal this farse until the end, until all the "Belgrade Six" are completely cleared of all the charges.