A summary of the activity of Brighton Solfed in the start of 2018, showcasing the cases we've dealt with up to May.
After a busy 2017, ending with a string of victories, 2018 looks set to be even busier for Brighton Solidarity Federation. In the first 5 months of the year, we’ve had many cases, both with our housing union and workplace disputes.
With a task as huge as that which we’ve set ourselves, it always seems like there’s more to do, and so it’s often easy for our disputes along the way to be forgotten. With this in mind, we felt it important to catalogue and bring attention to some of our results so far – if only to show that when we fight back against rip off landlords and exploitative bosses, we can win.
The year began with a successful end to our long running case against Café Plenty, which saw several pickets at the end of last year (we haven’t had time to write up this case yet, but here are articles from earlier in the dispute , resulting in the best part of the £7500 in unpaid wages going to the worker. This set the scene for the year to go on!
Interview with the IWA General Secretary
Comrade, can you tell us about the current situation of the IWA and the struggles of the Sections? We know that there were recently solidarity actions for ZSP, which is fighting in the Post Office.
First thanks to the comrades who showed solidarity. It was very important for us and introduced the concept of international solidarity to some workers for the first time.
Right now in the IWA, we see a lot of work at the base and international work to move forward and bring our ideas and struggle to new areas of the globe. As the IWA is an international organization and is federalist, there is some diversity amongst the organizations. This means that our Sections have different opportunities and challenges and some are on different levels of development. But most are involved in workplace or community struggles.
Some Sections have been regularly confronting workplace problems in areas where other unions have not been active, particularly among precarious workers because this is an area where usually the mainstream unions have no interest. We can see many confrontations in workplaces such as restaurants or cafes, in places such as the UK, Spain, Australia, Poland, Slovakia or Serbia. Some of the Sections, like the Solfed, have had quite successful ongoing campaigns which are well-known and effective and in Australia the comrades have been doing very good work in activating immigrant workers, who normally face many challenges in defending their rights. And ZSP many years ago became the first union in its country to organize in temporary work agencies and fight against the numerous abuses found there.
On April 30, 2018, the IWA General Secretary visited the legal counsel of the CNT-AIT concerning lawsuits brought against some of its member unions and later participated in a press conference together with representatives of the Secretariat of our Section in Spain. The purpose of this conference was to publically clarify positions and present facts concerning this case.
We are angered to report that members of the Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (KSPSI) engaged in an unprovoked attack of PPAS Jakarta members during a May Day march. In similar style to fascist groups that attack libertarians and take trophies, they stole PPAS flags and their banner.
KSPSI is the only union that was legal under the Soeharto regime and is perhaps used to being a regime monopoliist union with protection from the state. However, they should be ashamed that their members beat other workers during the workers' day of struggle.
Workers of the world, the only good unions are the ones controlled by workers themselves and which are not in bed with the bosses or the regime!
Solidarity to the comrades of PPAS against all the thugs who try to intimidate them!
ZSP-lWA calls for a week of protest action against the repression of workers from the Post Office in Poland
February 26 - March 4, 2018
For almost two years, postal workers around Poland have been protesting for better working conditions. ZSP has been active in attempts to coordinate national networks, actions and to unionize workers, together with hundreds of other workers spread around the country. All of the workers shared two things in common: they are fed up with the very poor working conditions and were not satisfied with the role of the representative unions which signed various agreements on their behalf with the employer.
Major actions of the ZSP have included exposing the problems in the Post Office and providing a forum for thousands of workers to network, making contacts all over the country and organizing national meetings, promoting alternative unionism and organizing and taking part in organizing national protests, together with thousands of workers.
We would like to ask you to show solidarity with Mia, who is together with Priama akcia in conflict with Space Mania café. You can send a protest e-mail directly to the boss Viera Pierce, who refuses to pay owed money to her former worker Mia. The total owed sum is 222.44 €. Since October 2017, Mia has been trying to get her unpaid wage, but her boss ignored her written requests as well as protest actions she organized together with her friend in front of the café. In December 2017 Priama akcia entered into the conflict concerning Mia's unpaid wage. The article contains all the background details a a template of a protest e-mail.
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.
Primero se oyeron los discursos sobre la fundación de la NSF el 28 de diciembre de 1916 y sobre las numerosas acciones directas de los años siguientes. La NSF estuvo asimismo en la avanzadilla de acciones llevadas a cabo por la jornada de 8 horas y comenzó a agitar en pro de la jornada de 6 horas ya desde 1919. Un trabajador de la sanidad/historiador, que está escribiendo dos libros sobre la NSF, habló sobre el desarrollo en Rjukan, una comunidad en la que la NSF contó con 600 afiliados en 1920 y cómo la rama local de la Confederación principal, la LO, cooperó en ocasiones pero la mayoría de las veces socavó a la NSF y sus acciones directas.
Otro discurso fue sobre las actividades de la NSF en los años 20 y 30. La NSF se unió a la AIT en su Congreso fundacional en 1922 y, desde entonces, ha formado parte activa de la misma. La NSF continuó organizando en los años 20 y 30. También contaba con un grupo de mujeres que formó parte activa en los esfuerzos organizativos de la NSF y muchas de sus miembros fueron también arrestadas durante la II Guerra Mundial por trabajo ilegal contra los nazis.
One does not have to search far to find examples of how the police and the state apparatus is used during moments of resistance to exploitation and oppression. Around the world we see how time after time, workers protests are quelled by police, how movements of the oppressed are put down by force. The role of the state in maintaining the power of the elites has long been clear.
Over the last few years, we have had to face the real repression of the state many times, often exaggerated in its reaction. The state has tried to make comrades into terrorists, for example in the case of comrades from ASI several years ago or in the ridiculous case of the arrest of a comrade from the CNT-AIT at the beginning of 2016 for taking part in a politically satirical puppet show. In Poland, the state-run Post Office also tried, unsuccessfully, to charge a comrade from ZSP with “calling for a bloody revolution”, which could have also resulted in serious charges.
The police and the state continue to repress and we continue to react. Comrades around the world face harassment and violence which we condemn, regardless of the level of its severity. In Spain, the libertarian social movements are under attack and in Russia, the very freedom to protest is severely constrained by the state. In Serbia, ASI has recently been taking direct action by organizing with tenants, to prevent evictions and the police have been monitoring activists and bringing charges against them. In Australia, the police have been carrying out brutal actions against refugees on Manus island. During a recent demonstration in Melbourne, in support of the refugees, when right-wing thugs attacked, instead of reacting, the police bludgeoned our comrade from ASF. When these bloody images shocked the world, in some media the police pretended that they had pacified a right-wing attacker, when in fact they stood idly by in relation to the attacks on the peaceful demonstration.