In support of the IWA Days of action in the UK, the Solidarity Federation called for campaign of direct action against workfare. The idea was to use the IWA 3 Days of action to launch a concerted campaign to put an end to unpaid work. This is in support of the ongoing Boycot Workfare campaign, that is being organised in conjunction with numerous other groups and organisations.
At a time of unprecedented youth unemployment in the UK , which now stands at over 22%, the government is subsidising businesses by sending the unemployed to work for them without pay and with the new Youth Contract it intends to expand these schemes even further.
The decision on which company to target was left to just before the Days of action to ensure that the company chosen were not alerted to the planned demos and pickets. After discussion within the Solidarity Federation it was decided to target the company Holland and Barratt a major high street chain of shops selling health products. The SolFed decided to target Holland and Barratt because the company intends to take over 1000 people on work experience this year and with a workforce of around 4000, unpaid workers will comprise a significant portion of their staff.
A new general strike was held in Portugal on the March 22nd, the second in four months, this time convened only by the major union CGTP. The strike had a lower adhesion than the previous one but was marked by an intensification and radicalization of protests.
The Portuguese Section of the IWA (AIT-SP) has marked its presence in Lisbon and Porto, before and during the strike, with a campaign for workers’ self-organization and direct action and participating in the demonstrations that took place in both cities.
When the government announced the day that they would discuss raising the retirement age, unions big and small decided to protest. A tent city was set up at the Parliament. There we raised a banner saying that „The strike is our best weapon” and gave out radical leaflets, including information about the general strike in Spain. We spoke for a long time with the rank and file members of mainstream unions about how their unions do not support the idea of general strikes and many of them agree that decisive action is necessary in situations like this, where the government is raising the retirement age to 67. Many sent greatings to comrades on Spain who were on strike and said that it should be that way in Poland.
After that we went to the Spanish Embassy for a picket against the labour reform. During the picket, we also spoke to some employees of the embassy that supported the strike.
On March 31, a rally-picket was held in Moscow as part of global protest days against anti-social policies and austerity measures at the call of the International Workers Association (IWA). The action was organized by the section of the IWA in Russia (KRAS-IWA).
It was attended by a total of about 40 people: representatives of various social organizations (KRAS-IWA, Autonomous Action, Committee of 19 January, trade union "Teacher", civil initiatives, etc.). The rally was held on the square “Krasnopresnenskaya zastava” with the monument to the heroes of the revolution of 1905-1907. Dozens of passing people stopped to listen to the speakers. The newspaper "Direct action" of the Russian section of IWA was distributed. The action covered by the public television network (SOTV.RF).
The struggle for power between different political groups, as expected, didn`t give solutions to the most pressing social problems of workers in Russia. Elections come and go, but our situation isn`t changed for the better.
We obtain the lowest wages and pensions in Europe. The prices of essential commodities and of all necessary services (housing and communal services, transportation etc.) rising continually. The "law of the state-owned institutions" (FL-83) is introduced which finally takes the health, education and child care on a commercial ground, and makes them more and more unaffordable for ordinary workers and pensioners. The ?single state examination? at the end of school study, due to overall corruption, favors students whose parents have fat wallets. The workers in enterprises and institutions are completely powerless: the 8-hour workday is, in fact, canceled in many enterprises and institutions; the right to organize trade unions in a large part of firms simply does not exist; the ability to strike is reduced almost to zero, and the workers and social activists are persecuted for their convictions and dismissed for attempts to defend their interests (the practice of "ban on the profession"). The migrant workers are completely deprived of any rights at all.
However, this is not enough for the authorities and capitalists. They are preparing new anti-social measures. Some new reforms are proposed: a pension reform (with rising of retirement age in spite of a low average life expectancy in the country), a reform of labour laws (with removal of restrictions on working hours, freedom of layoffs, etc.). The sphere of paid medicine and education extends even more. Our social rights are being cut every day, every hour!
As part of the International Workers Association (IWA) days of action against austerity, exploitation, and oppression, the Solidarity Federation will be launching a national campaign against Workfare. On the 29th & 30th March, Solidarity Federation Locals will leaflet companies using the Workfare scheme advising workers of their rights. On the 31st March one national company will be targeted with coordinated nationwide pickets and a communications blockade with the aim of forcing the company to stop using Workfare. The name of the target company will be announced a few days prior to the 31st March to ensure the company cannot prepare against the planned actions.
The Solidarity Federation is launching a national campaign against Workfare as the scheme amounts to little more than a modern form of slave labour. Under the government’s various Workfare schemes unemployed workers are made to work for free for up to 6 months with no guarantee of a job afterwards. They are forced to work on these schemes or risk losing welfare payments.
The CNT-AIT and the Spanish working class are involved in a bitter fight and call on the support of the international working class.
The so-called Labour Reform is a direct attack on the workers rights, pay and working conditions. In 2010, the “socialist” government introduced a round of measures which slashed public sector pay, drove down pensions and cut public services. The new right wing government is carrying on where the old government left off. They are embarking on yet another round of austerity cuts which will further drive down the conditions of life of Spanish workers and it aims to crush or/and weaken the ability of workers to organize and fight.
The current attack on Spanish workers and on the worldwide working class has one sole objective, to secure the economical dictatorship of the capitalists. The price of freedom and security for the capitalists is slavery for the working class. This is the nature of capitalism. The only path to emancipation for us as workers is to take control of our own struggle: A struggle that is directed against and outside the class collaborationist structures and that through Direct Action confronts and defeats the evil that is Capitalism.
The Secretariat of the International Workers Association (IWA) sends its support to the General Strike on March 29 called by the Spanish CNT-AIT and the mobilizations and workers Direct Actions that are so strongly needed further to fight the Capitalist offensive!
Long live the CNT-AIT and anarchosyndicalism!
Long live the AIT!
Oslo, March 21- 2012
from the IWA-Secretariat
-Support for the General Strike called by the CNTE in Spain. Picket at the Spanish Embassy and Demonstration. Mysliwiecka St. 4 in Warsaw at 16:00. At Copernicus Monument (Nowy Swiat 69) at 18:00.
-Action against the privatization of school cafeterias and the replacement of permanent staff by precarious workers. ZSP is organizing against the proposed closure of up to 800 public schools in Poland, against cuts in education, the privatization of auxiliary services and the liquidation of jobs. ZSP Education points out that the proposed privatization of school cafeterias means the liquidation of permanent jobs and an increase in the costs per meal as private catering companies charge more for these services. While the price per meal can increase between 30-70%, the difference will be pocketed by the private firms. The cafeteria staff will either be fired or transfered to the private firm using a legal loophole. As a result, they will become precarious workers in jobs known for extremely bad working conditions.