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(en) Britain: Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance #85 - June 2006

Date Tue, 30 May 2006 17:19:08 +0200 (CEST)


THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT!
It looks as though 2006 is going to turn out to be highly significant for
European workers.
Here in Britain, the government, whose members are in line for whopping
great retirement pensions, are working out ways of cutting the pensions of
ordinary working people, while making them work until they drop. Make no
bones about it, this is a major attack.
And what are the unions doing about it? One day strikes here, and one day
strikes there. Given the low key response to the pensions crisis the
government is hardly quaking in its boots. Rivals Blair and Brown are
supposed to have come to a deal on this issue, so between them we can
expect to be screwed.

Contrast this softly, softly approach to what the French workers and
students achieved in March and April of this year. The French government
brought in a measure which meant that young workers under 26 within a two
year trial period could be sacked by their bosses without explanation. And
what was the response of the French working class? Well, millions of them
including young workers, students, older workers, families and pensioners
took to the streets. Not content with peaceful passive protests, they
turned to more dramatic, and effective, methods of persuasion. There were
riots, street clashes, many blockades of rail tracks and motorways. France
erupted into anger.

And the outcome? The law was scrapped and the humiliated government has
been forced to pay massive subsidies (£104 million per year) to encourage
firms to take on young unqualified staff. That?s the way to do it!


DATABASE DANGER

Now the Identity Cards Act has been passed, the building of 69 ?in-person?
registration centres for gathering biometric data and vetting passport
applications is supposed to go ahead later this year. In the next couple
of years the centres will also manage compulsory entry on the National
Identity Register for passport applications, and Labour have made it clear
that their final goal is compulsory ID for everyone. Maperley, the private
offshore company that already owns buildings for HM Revenue and Customs
(but avoids paying tax!) has been given the Home Office contract to run
the new centres. In the meantime, No2ID is asking that if you need a
passport, it would show the level of opposition to ID if everyone renewed
or applied now, even if your passport is not due for renewal yet
(www.renewforfreedom.org).

Labour?s ID scheme is rife with private ?enterprise?, which is not
surprising since the huge funds needed to set up and run one of the
biggest top-down Information Technology projects in the world seems to be
an almost bottomless pit of cash (the other British project vying for the
title is digitisation of NHS records). The size of the ID scheme is not
just about billions of pounds though. The Criminal Records Bureau have a
computerised system to do criminal record checks on job applicants, known
as
?disclosures?, and say that 25,000 people were prevented from being
recruited last year. But in May, the CRB were found to have wrongly
labelled 2,700 people as ?criminal? due to their personal details being
similar to someone on their database - an error of 0.03% in 9 million
disclosures. Not only that, but there is evidence of massive abuse of the
database from employers making illegal checks on potential employees for
jobs involving ?no risk to children or vulnerable adults?, and excessive
requests for ?enhanced disclosures? which impart additional information
the police may have about an individual, not just known convictions.

The ID cards system is much, much bigger. With around 4 in 5 of us being
over 16 years of age that means about 50 million people will go in the
National Identity Register. The possibility for errors seems endless,
whether it?s in entering the 49 pieces of information per person in the
first place, or looking up your identity hundreds or thousands of times a
year (not just for the occasional job application). Never mind the myriad
of ways that knowledge of many ?correct? identities will be deliberately
abused by the police or anyone else that has access to the database.
Children?s databases and plans for police logging of all car travel in
Britain using digital cameras are also underway, to make us even safer we
are told. It?s clear that the more invasive the State and its corporate
partners become through their huge IT projects, the more the potential for
abuse will carry on growing.

Defending Anonymity, the AF?s anti-ID pamphlet, is available for free
(send us a SAE) or online at http://www.afed.org.uk



ON THE FRONTLINE

The big news this month was the return of the mass wildcat to a British
car factory for the first time in many years. A thousand workers at the
General Motors Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant downed tools and walked out
when they got wind of comments by the GM Europe President that job cuts
were in the pipeline, word quickly got around and the nightshift then
failed to turn up for work as well. The union quickly got the workers back
inside the factory though, all the better to ?negotiate? their jobs away -
1000 job losses were agreed within a few days.

There was also a large wildcat in the West Midlands mail centre, when
around a 100 workers walked out after a racist incident. Further trouble
is on the way in the Post Office where a national strike is looking very
likely following management?s unilateral imposition of a 2.9% wage rise -
something that the workers are very unhappy with - it?s been suggested
that in line with the PO manager?s long term plans this is an attempt to
further demoralise post workers so that they leave, cutting the wages
bill, and making the company appear a better bet for investors with
further
privatisation lined up over the coming years.

The nationwide lecturers boycott of exams continues and is now really
starting to bite with exams being called off around the country. The union
is still refusing to endorse a strike though, despite the clear need for
decisive measures to be taken immediately: and is only arguing for a
slight escalation via management boycotts and other partial steps.

Bus drivers in Wiltshire and Dorset are going be holding a number of 24
and 48 hour strikes next month over a derisory pay off. The surprising
news is that for once the company involved isn?t First.

Some bad news now - a CBI report has found that absenteeism is now at its
lowest point for 10 years, and that only 17% of days lost are believed to
be fraudulent. With the World Cup fast approaching surely with a bit of
effort we can improve on the 160 million days lost last year - pull your
fingers out!

We bet the CBI didn?t bother to publicise another report that was
published last month, which discovered that leading company bosses enjoyed
an average pay package of £3.3 million a year - meanwhile, the average pay
is £22,900. The class war is over is it Tony?



HIGHER EDUCATION DISPUTE

For some time the university academic staff unions, the AUT and NATFHE,
have been instructing their teaching members? not to set exams or mark
their students? work, to pressure employers in the current pay dispute.
Already some university vice chancellors are threatening to deduct wages.
Lecturers and research staff were promised higher wages as a result of the
new tuition fees which will be charged from September, a promise that the
universities had no intention of keeping. Wages have dropped in value by
40% compared with other public sector increases since the 1980s, whilst
those of vice chancellors have risen by an average 25%.
Due to the action many students will end the academic year without having
gained enough marks to progress, and if they are in their final year they
will not graduate properly. So is this action justified? Many staff as
well as students don?t think so, and see it as dividing their essentially
common interests.

University academic staff are taking the most traditionally effective form
of action ? the withdrawal of labour. But why strike when other forms of
action are open? Students suffering is just a side-issue to trades unions,
because students are not their members. Other forms of industrial action
should be taken, something that unites staff and students and expresses
both of our interests whilst hitting the universities in the pocket.
Both students and lecturers have also been let down by the naive
careerists of the National Union of Students. These fashionably supported
lecturers? action at first, but then withdrew it when things got
controversial. These issues are not games. We need to work out where we
stand, and remain firm. The NUS strives for nothing beyond the status quo.

In the current situation students can only be expected to identify with
lecturers? interests to a certain extent. We need to work hard to unite
lecturers and students in challenging both the employers and the power of
single-interest unions, which fail to represent us.


POLICE BRUTALITY IN MEXICO

The conflict began on May 3, when flower vendors from San Salvador Atenco
attempted to sell flowers in the nearby community of Texcoco at the site
of a planned WalMart megamall. Police evicted the vendors, beating many
people in the process.

The Atenco-based Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT) mobilized
protests, which were brutally repressed by police. News reports indicate
police killed at least two residents, and at least 50 or more are injured,
some of them critically. Eleven police were detained by Atenco residents
who demanded an end to the repression and the release of prisoners in
exchange for the release of the detained police. Instead of negotiating an
exchange, the Federal Preventative Police (anti-riot squad) entered Atenco
during the early morning hours of Thursday, May 4, declared a state of
siege, and began a house to house search for the detained police, severely
beating and arresting residents.

The results of the police terror on May 4 were 275 people held in
custody. Many of the leaders of the FPDT were arrested when police
searched their homes without warrants, directed by a masked informant.
Townspeople recognized the informant?s voice as he directed police. Three
of the top leaders of the FPDT are in a maximum security prison, charged
with kidnapping.

Now, 144 people are charged with a lesser offence for which they can bail
out if they can come up with approximately 24 thousand pesos (around
$2,000 dollars). Charges against another 17 were completely dismissed.
However, 28 remain in prison charged with kidnapping for the detention of
police on May 3, including 3 FPDT leaders.

San Salvador Atenco is an autonomous (self-governing) community a little
to the east of Mexico City. The community is highly organized and is
famous for its militant protesters who participate in popular
mobilizations across central Mexico, including those opposing a WalMart
store near the
archaeological site of Teotihuacán (close to Atenco). It appears that the
police were just waiting for the right excuse and the okay from above to
smash San Salvador Atenco, in particular the FPDT. Organise actions
against Walmart and put pressure on the Mexican government in support of
Atenco.



THE BNP IN BARKING AND DAGENHAM

A political time bomb has exploded in East London. The racist British
National Party won at least 11, and possibly 12 seats on the local
Council., making it the official opposition to Labour. The BNP has
effectively, for the first time in its history, gained a mass base in a
community.
How has this situation come about? Firstly, it should be noted that until
a couple of years ago, the borough of Barking and Dagenham was almost
totally white working class. In this population the Labour Party has had
effectively one party rule for decades. The local Party is corrupt,
arrogant and a career base for the ambitious.

Much of the population was poor and neglected. They lived in the biggest
council estate in Europe. It is vast but the families in the community
knew that council housing was secure for them.

Then came Thatcherism, council houses were sold off, many being bought by
whites who bought to rent, becoming landlords (leeches), and depleting the
housing stock for their children. New rules about the right to council
accommodation also made getting a council house much more difficult.

Within the last few years, local people, in the town of Barking in
particular, became aware that large numbers of Kosovan refugees were being
housed in their area. Some housing staff actively promoted the idea that
Kosovans were responsible for the shortage of housing, fueling resentment.

Council houses in the borough became increasingly scarce after the right
to buy was introduced. Still, a few years ago they could be bought for
£60,000. Now a 3-bedroomed ex-council house costs over £180,000, well
beyond the reach of local people.

About 2 years ago, the ethnic character of the borough changed rapidly.
Large numbers of black people moved in and bought many of the ex-council
housing. Some, it appears, were given grants to help purchase their
properties by housing associations in inner London eager on moving them to
make way for new applicants. This fuelled resentment. The blacks,
Kosovans and other outsiders were blamed for the housing crisis.
The widespread poverty in the borough not only impacted on housing.
Schools and social services could not cope, adding further resentment.
Who is responsible for this rapid and widespread growth of racism? Blame
firmly rests with Labour. The local Party was complacent and corrupt. But
it was under Blair that mass racism in the borough was created. Blair and
co. have done nothing about the widespread and chronic housing crisis in
Britain.

The only hope in the short term for the poor of all races, is more social
housing. Labour continues to oversee the sale of council houses.
The BNP success is now starting to take effect. Working class whites who
voted for them are becoming more vocal, more confidently racist in the
changed political climate.

What are the prospects? The BNP are noted for their incompetence in local
government. Maybe they will make fools of themselves and be voted out next
time. More worrying, if the BNP uses its public platform to criticise the
lack of progress under Labour and no improvements take place, especially
with housing, they could capture the whole borough.

There are no easy solutions. More affordable social housing and decent
free local health facilities should be available to all, this will only be
achieved through the poor of all races arguing out their differences, and
uniting against their common enemy, landlords, bosses and government
(local and national, of whatever party).


TIME BOMB: THE SPANISH REVOLUTION 1936


On July 19th 1936, forces within the Spanish Army, backed by the right
wing in the Catholic Church and among industrialists and big landowners,
as well as among the fascists of the Falange and the monarchists, made an
attempt to overthrow the young Republic.

Rumours and preparations for the attempted army coup had been obvious to
all but the government, which, afraid of the workers more than of the
army, refused the demands that arms should be distributed to the people.
All the attempts by the Army in the main industrial centres were defeated,
with the exception of Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba and Grenada.

Half a million workers were organised within the mass anarchosyndicalist
union, the Confederation Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), and many other
workers were in the socialist union the Union General de Trabajadores
(UGT). In Madrid armed UGT militants smashed the Army revolt. In
Barcelona, it was the CNT and the Federacion Anarquista Iberica (FAI)
which captured the barracks and thwarted the generals. So began the
Spanish Revolution.

In Catalonia and Aragon, the regions with the highest concentration of
anarchists and those influenced by them, distribution of food, the
maintenance of public services, the opening of collective restaurants and
the organisation of armed militias was undertaken by revolutionary
committees outside the control of government.

Collectivisation of industry and the seizing of the land were set in
motion by CNT embers, and to a lesser extent UGT members. Often, anarchist
militias such as the Durruti Column, would actively promote and defend
collectivisations as they traveled to the frontline. Possibly 3 million
people were involved in collectives in 1936-37.

Working people began to cast off centuries of mental servitude. People
spoke to each other as equals. New groups involving themselves in
artistic, musical and cultural activities emerged in a surge of creativity
unleashed by the possibilities the revolution offered.
This far reaching revolution was attacked by the forces of Franco, and
sabotaged from within by the Communist Party and the liberal Republicans.
But that?s another story?.


NEW ORGANISE! MAGAZINE NOW OUT

Organise! magazine #66 (Spring/Summer 2006) now in print, with articles on
ID cards Act, Spanish revolution 70th anniversary & artist Ramón Acín
Aquilué, Environmental struggles in West Ireland & USA, Venezuelan
interview, Anarchists and Media, Prisoner Support.

Available at http://www.afed.org.uk or from our usual address (see below).


INSIDE INFORMATION

Finnish anarchist jailed for refusing military service

Finnish anarchist MC Henrik ?Iso H? Rosenberg began his 195 day prison
sentence for total objecting (refusing military service and alternative
state work) 20th of March. Iso H is not the first Finnish anarchist MC to
go down for total objecting - both Jus Aname representing Järvenpää and
Tapani Ganja representing Turku did their prison sentences in 2002. But
differently from Jus Aname and Tapani Ganja who are strictly underground,
Iso H is a commercially successful hip hop artist with a celebrity status.
11th of November 2005 Iso H was performing in a successful joint benefit
concert for Union of Conscientious Objectors and Anarchist Black Cross,
over stage there was a big banner in support of American anarchist
political prisoner Jeffrey ?Free? Luers. Paid audience was more than 500.

Total objecting is getting more and more mainstream, and currently vast
majority of objectors come from outside activist circles. For example of
25 people doing time 1st of march for ?alternative service crime?
according to state statistics, vast majority of whom are political, only
six had contacted Union of Conscientious Objectors in order to get to
their prisoner list. You may subscribe a War Resisters International
petition for Iso H at: http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20060325a.html

US anti-fascist jailed

An American woman, Lasandra Burwell, has been sentenced to 5 years
imprisonment for 2nd Degree Felony Assault, 1st Degree Felony Assault, and
Fourth Degree Aggravated Riot for throwing bricks at police cars and
police officers during the anti-fascist riot in Toledo, OH last October.
She welcomes books and letters of support. Her address is:
Lasandra Burwell W063658, Ohio Reformatory for Women, 1479 Collins Ave.
Marysville, OH 43040, USA

Information from:
http://www.brightonabc.org.uk


SUBVERT ? JUNE DIARY DATES

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: http://www.ldmg.org.uk

June

3-11: Stop the Arms Trade Week ? An opportunity for co-ordinated local
campaigning. Contact Campaign Against Arms Trade on 020 7281 0297 to order
a free campaign pack or to find out what is happening in your area, or
visit http://www.calltheshots.org for more

4: International day of Child Victims of Aggression - Bring the family to
Beith munitions depot in Ayreshire, Scotland - where a very large number
of bombs used in the Iraq conflict and conflict elsewhere are made, tested
and stored. Meet 1pm for picnic outside the gates. For transport from
Edinburgh and Glasgow tel: 07876 698 736 or email: info@act4peace.org

10: 2006 Road Block national conference. Anti-roads campaigners take note.
The location is central Birmingham. Workshops and guest speakers. Get more
information and download booking forms here:
http://www.roadblock.org.uk

10: Norwich Anarchist Bookfair - Stalls, meetings, food, bar & music.
Blackfriar?s Hall, Norwich, 10am-6pm. Free entry. Beards optional.
http://www.norwichanarchists.org

11 until July 1: Art Not Oil, London. An exhibition and campaign committed
to showing powerful political/ecological art, to seeing an end to oil
sponsorship of the arts, and to helping build movements for climate
justice both here and throughout the world. For more info: email
info@artnotoil.org.uk tel: 07708 794 665 visit:
http://www.artnotoil.org.uk
http://www.nationalpetroleumgallery.org.uk
Art Not Oil is a project of London Rising Tide:
http://www.londonrisingtide.org.uk

16-18 June: PROJECTILE: A festival of anarchist film and culture
Newcastle, Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2BB
ADMISSION & ACCOMODATION: Weekend pass: £25 waged or £5 waged
Individual films: suggested donation of £3.50, free for asylum seekers
Discussions: Free
For more information, contact info@projectile.org.uk
http://www.projectile.org.uk

---
Anarchist Federation,
BM ANARFED, London,
WC1N 3XX, England.
Email: info@afed.org.uk
Also visit: http://www.afed.org.uk and http://www.iaf-ifa.org
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, or
download current (and back issues) from
http://www.libcom.org/hosted/af/res/ or http://flag.blackened.net/af/res/
Also read/download now in PDF format from http://www.afed.org.uk



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