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(en) Britain, Direct Action # 35 - INTERNATIONAL:

Date Sun, 28 Aug 2005 10:48:53 +0300

It is always good to hear about the successes that our kind of
unionism – anarcho-syndicalism – has around the world. We
fight for unions that are under democratic control of the
membership, with no permanent committees or delegates, that use
direct action to solve disputes and that have a vision of the kind of
society we would like to live in in the future.
With the International Workers’ Association, the
anarcho-syndicalist international established in 1922, expanding in
many places of the world where we have not until recently had any
affiliates, the future for revolutionary unionism looks bright. We
realise, on the other hand, that our unions aren’t as strong as
they were in the early years of the twentieth century and not as
strong as we would like them to be, but an International means that
we can co-ordinate struggles better and win the battle against the

Recently, our sister organisation, the CNT (National Confederation
of Labour) in Spain has been having lots of victories in the workplace
and on the social front. Here are some brief extracts of recent
successes and campaigns that the CNT has participated in.

In north Spain, in Burgos, the CNT and the Burgos Social Forum
called a demonstration, which gathered together more than 1,000
protesters against accidents at work and to march against poor and
unsafe working conditions. The immediate cause of the demo was
the death of ten workers who were working on the construction of a
cycle route in the city, and were employed by the Town Council.
The reformist unions, for all their loud mouthing about accidents
and the like, have done very little. While this march will do nothing
to bring back the ten deceased workers, it is only by refusing to work
in unsafe conditions, protest and direct action that can stop such
things happening again.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, the CNT Construction Workers’ Union
held protests outside the Spanish Ministry of Labour. Workplace
‘accidents’ are the responsibility of the bosses, cutting out
rest periods, putting on crap contracts and ignoring current
legislation. A spokesperson from the CNT stated that these
accidents are “a direct result of casualisation” in the
workplace. We agree. Most of the new ‘flexibility’ of work
practices benefits the bosses and not us and makes it easier for them
to discipline us and get rid of us when they want. The CNT
continues with its national campaign against casualisation as does
the IWA across its member Sections.

The CNT, which does not stand for workplace elections and does
not participate in workplace councils because they are undemocratic,
has recently established several ‘Union Sections’ in different
workplaces. These Sections are controlled by the membership and
all decisions taken in them are through the workers’ assembly.
Recently in the television company CATSA in Malaga such a
Section has been established recently and, with other workplace
unions, has called for a strike in order to implement basic
agreements and to get them respected. Again, while the reformist
unions do little so as not to prejudice their position of power in the
workplace, the CNT is organising workers with an aim to taking
control of their own struggles.
In the Town Council of Adra in southern Spain, better working
conditions have been achieved in terms of wages and hours worked
and in Cornellá, near Barcelona, a CNT member was given his job
back after being sacked from FASKA company.

These may not be huge victories and some of what we have reported
on is clearly ‘on-going’ work. But a union which does not
make compromises before management or the state, as far as it can,
is what we need in Britain, where workplace ‘accidents’,
casualisation and generally poor conditions are fast becoming the
norm. In the future, we will report on the progress of the IWA’s
anti-casualisation campaign and on what’s been happening in
this country too.


Formation of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Confederation (ASK)

At the last Congress of the IWA in December 2004 in Granada,
Spain, the Anarcho Syndicalist Front (ASF) of Croatia was present,
having sent a delegate to observe the Congress’ procedures and
the activities of the International. As a result of that presence, the
IWA accepted the ASF into the IWA as Friends of the IWA, a status
given organisations which either wish to join as fully fledged
members at a later date or which cannot, at present become full
members because of their small size.

The ASF has now reorganised and changed its name to the
Anarcho-Syndicalist Confedera-tion (ASK), representing a step
towards achieving the goal of building a confederation of anarchist
workplace syndicates and libertarian neighbourhood assemblies.

The ASK has increased its propaganda activities particularly in local
communities where it exists, and has recently grown in response to
increased interest in its activities. The ASK also publishes its paper
Antibarbarus every month or two. In addition, with the help of the
IWA, they intend to translate and publish general
anarcho-syndicalist literature, something which does not exist in the
region. We are told that the only place where anarcho-syndicalist
ideas were present was, somewhat paradoxically, in the analysis
made of them by some Yugoslavian Marxist papers.

The ASK intends to ask for affiliation to the IWA at the next IWA
Congress, an event scheduled for Manchester in 2006. In the
meantime, they have close contacts with the Slovenian Union of
Self-organised Workers and the Serbian Anaracho Syndicalist
Initiative, both of which have close ties with the IWA.

We hope that the consolidation of anarcho-syndicalist organisations
in the former Yugoslavia marks a starting point for the creation of
independent workers’ organisations and for the strengthening of
our International, the IWA. What follows is a brief text by the ASK
which describes their organisation.

‘The Anarcho-Syndicalist Confederation (ASK) is a
confederation of anarcho-syndicates and neighbourhood assemblies
(community syndicates) inside the territory of Croatia. All involved
in the work of this confederation are striving to build a
non-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian movement of working-class
solidarity, dedicated to the building of a society based on the
principles of solidarity, collective mutual aid, equality and true
liberation of every individual.

‘ASK strives to organise workers on two basic levels; inside
their workplaces (which is a form of an economic organisation) as
well as inside their community (which is a form of a political
organisation). United in this way, workers form one
economic-political formation, ie., they form organisations which are
embryos of direct-democratic institutions of the future society: the
Commune. As a syndicalist organisation, ASK has two tasks: the
immediate protection of workers’ rights, and the fight for
improvement and better conditions of living for workers within the
existing society.. This aim is achieved through reforms, which are
only a reflection of our struggle to the final goal: the radical
transformation of society, through Social Revolution, which will be
based on the principles of Libertarian Communism, where people
will cooperate on the principle ‘’From each according to
their abilities, to each according to their needs’’.’


Young anarchist killed by police in Bogotá

A 15 year old, Nicolás David Neira Alvares, was killed while
marching in the anarchist block on the Mayday demonstration in
Bogata. Many young people had decided to come together to protest
against capitalism and they joined the huge demonstration which
included union workers, farmers, students, unemployed people and
activists. They marched in a non-violent manner on one of the main
streets of Bogotá.

The demonstration not only remembered those who were killed by
the State in Chicago, but also denounced the current unstable
economical and social conditions of Colombia, demanded a halt to
the Free Trade Treatise and made public the atrocities that are being
committed by the current quasi-fascist government.

Trouble occurred when the ESMAD (police) started to use tear gas
without any reason, and after one explosion, began hitting protesters
with wooden sticks and firing rubber bullets. It was during this that
many people were severely injured, including Nicolás who was
beaten on the head by the police until he lost consciousness. Around
eight policemen surrounded Nicolás covering themselves with
masks to prevent recognition.

After some time, Nicolás was finally taken by some comrades to a
hospital. There he waited for some hours until he was taken to the
Salud Coop Hospital where he remained in critical conditions until
he died on Saturday 7th May.

During this week, many people denounced the situation, writing
articles in the alternative media, helping the family, organising and
protesting in the streets. Many of these people are in turn being
harassed by the police. The media covered the whole affair by trying
to hide the real facts. The ESMAD claim that they never beat

South Africa

When Nigeria tried to force through tough new labour measures in
the face of fierce resistance by workers, over 50 African countries
condemned the moves - these countries included South Africa.

Now the business-friendly ANC government has unveiled similar
plans to further exempt 'small and medium enterprises' from 'central
bargaining and other labour arrangements'. The Congress of South
African Trade Unions (COSATU) has warned of major conflict if the
government persists with forcing ever more workers into the
informal economy. Mbeki, the ANC President, hopes the changes
will be in place by the end of this year. We at Direct Action hope that
COSATU's warnings amount to more concrete opposition.


Union members in Japan have placed the blame for a massive train
crash that claimed 106 lives squarely on the railway company, saying
under pressure workers face humiliating penalties for slight delays.

‘The accident is a result of JR West’s corporate stance of
prioritising operations and high-pressure management that uses
terror to force employees to follow orders,’ said Osamu
Yomono, vice-president of the Japan Confederation of Railway
Workers’ Unions. Japanese trains are renowned for their
punctuality, with JR West and other operators running timetables
down to every 15 seconds.

But it takes its toll in terms of stress on drivers, with punishment
including ‘nikkin kyoiku’ - dayshift education. That means
re-training sessions for those responsible for delays or overrunning
stops. The sessions often include making drivers write reports all day
long on topics such as how to improve themselves or chores such as
weeding, which the union says is humiliating. A 44-year-old train
driver of JR West hanged himself in September 2001 after he spent
three days in retraining for being 50 seconds late when departing
from a station. There have been allegations that the 23-year-old
crash driver Ryujiro Takami, who had only 11 months’
experience and who had gone through re-education, was speeding
after falling 1 minute late due to overrunning a station.


Compensation demanded for Spectrum victims

Garment workers in Bangladesh staged a demonstration demanding
the payment of compensation to injured workers and the families of
those who were killed after the collapse of the nine-storey Spectrum
factory. The disaster was due to faulty construction and left at least
93 workers killed, 36 missing, and over 200 others injured.

Their demands also included the immediate payment of arrears on
wages and overtime to the 6,000 workers of Spectrum Garments and
Shahriar Garments, as well as job security and the settlement
disputes at both factories, owned by the same management.

Police intercepted and blocked the parade of workers, mostly
women, as they were heading towards the Labour Ministry to lay
siege around it to press home their demands. However, they did
allow a four member delegation of the organisers of the
demonstration to enter the ministry to submit a three point
memorandum to the office of the Labour Secretary.

Other workers staged a demonstration on the spot and shouted
slogans against the owners of the factories.

Organised under the joint auspices of the National garments
Workers Federation (NGWF) and Bangladesh Garments and
Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), the demonstrating
workers, earlier held a brief rally at Muktangaon in the capital with
NGWF general Secretary Amirul Haque Amin in the chair.
Journal of the anarchist Solidarity Federation

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