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(en) Britain, Solidarity [anarchist] Federation, Direct Action - DA-SF-IWA #40 Autumn 2007 - The Aims of the Solidarity Federation + Editorial

Date Mon, 03 Nov 2008 07:41:46 +0200



Inside this issue: * Letters: page 5 * National::: * Are we all proud now?: page
6 * NSSN: Time to organize in the workplace: page 8 * No new Trident: page 10
* Bush, Bin Laden and the clash of civilisations: page 11 * City academies: page
14 * The ‘caring’ face of New Labour: page 21 * The scourge of humanity: page 22
* Manchester Solfed and the Police: page 25 * History:::: * Factory committees
in the Russian Revolution: page 17 * The Revolution that never was: page 18
* International:::: * Egyptian class struggle in 2007: page 26 * Colombian
Embassy picketed: page 29 * The plight of the Penan of Sarawak: page 30 * The
back end:::: * Reviews: page 32 * Football: take back the people’s game: page 33
* Contact Directory: page 35

The Aims of the Solidarity Federation

The Solidarity Federation is an organisation of workers which seeks to destroy
capitalism and the state. Capitalism because it exploits, oppresses and kills
working people and wrecks the environment for profit worldwide. The state
because it can only maintain hierarchy and privilege for the classes who control
it and their servants; it cannot be used to fight the oppression and
exploitation that are the consequences of hierarchy and the source of privilege.
In their place we want a society based on workers' self-management, solidarity,
mutual aid and libertarian communism.

That society can only be achieved by working class organisations based on the
same principles - revolutionary unions. These are not Trades Unions only
concerned with “bread and butter” issues like pay and conditions. Revolutionary
unions are means for working people to organise and fight all the issues - both
in the workplace and outside - which arise from our oppression. We recognise
that not all oppression is economic, but can be based on gender, race,
sexuality, or anything our rulers find useful. Unless we organise in this way,
politicians - some claiming to be revolutionary - will be able to exploit us for
their own ends.

The Solidarity Federation consists of Locals which support the formation of
future revolutionary unions and are centres for working class struggle on a
local level. Our activities are based on Direct Action - action by workers
ourselves, not through intermediaries like politicians and union officials; our
decisions are made through participation of the membership. We welcome all
working people who agree with our Aims and Principles, and who will spread
propaganda for social revolution and revolutionary unions. We recognise that the
class struggle is worldwide, and are affiliated to the International Workers'
Association, whose Principles of Revolutionary Unionism we have adopted.

Direct Action is published by Solidarity Federation, British section of the
International Workers Association (IWA). DA is edited and laid out by the DA
Collective, and printed by Clydeside Press. Views stated in these pages are not
necessarily those of the DA Collective or the Solidarity Federation. We do not
publish contributors' names. Please contact us if you want to know more.

Subscribe (For 4 issues): Supporters – £10/ Basic – £5/ (Europe – £10; rest of
the world – £15). Standing Orders or Cheques payable to ‘Direct Action' – return
form to: DA, PO Box 29, SW PDO, Manchester, M15 5HW

Contribute If you would like to help out or contribute articles or photos, work
is entirely voluntary. We welcome articles of between 500-1,500 words on
industrial, social/community and international issues; on working class history;
and on anarchist/anarcho-syndicalist theory and history. Articles may be sent as
hard copy, on a disk or by email, and can only be returned if accompanied by a
request (and SAE if appropriate).

Contact us DA Collective, PO Box 29, South West PDO, Manchester, M15 5HW 079 84
67 52 81 da@direct-action.org.uk

Bulk Orders AK Distribution, PO Box 12766, Edinburgh, EH8 9YE, Scotland 0131 555
5165 ak@akedin.demon.co.uk www.akuk.com, or direct from the DA Collective

Direct Action ISSN 0261-8753


Editorial:::: Pay cuts, privatisation and Brown’s ‘Blue’ Labour

Predictably, anyone who harboured some forlorn hope that Gordon Brown would
divert the Labour Party from its anti-working class course have been soundly
disappointed. Instead, it's business as usual as Brown tries to impose a pay
regime across the public sector that amounts to wage cuts in real terms. Here at
Direct Action, Labour's contempt for workers comes as no surprise whatever. Over
the decades, whether in power or out, DA has consistently painted the Labour
Party as the class enemy it truly is. For us, it would be far more of a shock if
Brown actually were to take a turn towards workers' interests.

Well there's no danger of that. Brown's Labour Party continues to be the bosses'
best friend while the PM himself strives to outdo anything Blair got up to in
the 'heir to Maggie' stakes. From his blue ties to his stolen Tory ideas and
stunts like having Thatcher over for a nausea-stalgic shufty round number 10,
Brown's version of the party is more a case of 'blue Labour' than 'old Labour'.
Of course, all this is little more than a part of the political popularity
contest, just one more lump in the daily diet of celebrified sh*te that
decorates our TV screens and newspaper pages. And while spin doctors cooked up
the whole over-hyped non-election farce that we saw back in September, in the
real world our class had far more important matters on our plate.

Public Sector pay cuts

Not content that we already suffer high levels of job insecurity (bosses call it
flexibility), already endure the longest hours in Europe (over 350,000 of us
regularly rack up more than 50 hours a week), and already make do with the
lowest annual leave (with one in five of us pressurised into giving up some of
our leave), the government now intends to drive our wages down even further.
This is what the real effect will be of the announcement in the pre-budget
statement that public sector pay settlements are to be restricted to 2% for the
next three years.

Labour's excuse is that the measure will hold inflation down to its 2% target.
But even if this target is met, workers still lose out because the measure of
inflation that most closely reflects our cost of living is higher than the one
used by the Treasury. So the equation is stark but simple - to avoid what will
amount to at least three years of pay cuts will mean workers standing up to this
attack and beating it back.

Now, we've heard the fairly predictable calls for another 'Winter of
Discontent'. But for this to have any substance beyond the slogans and petitions
of lefty paper sellers then it's down to workplace activists to begin the
groundwork - and quickly too. This means pushing for and building mass meetings,
initially at the local workplace level, and later at the regional and national
levels. Here ideas can be exchanged, information circulated, newsletters
planned, actions and tactics coordinated. The mass meetings will be important
not only in building support for a 'yes' vote in the strike ballots to come, but
once action is underway, to also spread the use of go-slows, work-to-rules,
unofficial walk-outs and other ways to hit back over and above the official
strike days.

Above all, mass meetings allow a measure of control to remain with the rank and
file membership, thereby countering those well known habits of our dear union
leaders to back-slide and to sell us out. These and similar ideas are being
spread also by the Dispatch bulletin (see box for download details) and are
shared by many of those who are participating in the National Shop Stewards
Network (see 'NSSN: Time to Organise in the Workplace' - page 7).

Privatisation

This is another aspect of the class struggle in the public sector. It is also
one which can be linked to pay especially considering that research is
increasingly finding little to link inflation with public sector pay. In that
case then, the suspicion is that the government's motive for trying to cut pay
is less to do with controlling inflation and more to do with preparing the path
for more privatization.

Throughout the public sector governments, both past and present, has been hiving
off more and more services to their friends in the private sector. Whether it's
wholesale privatisation or the creeping variety which, to a greater or lesser
extent, affects the health, education and local authority sectors, there is a
recurring pattern. First we see wages and conditions driven down so as to
attract potential bidders. Then we see these private operators continue in much
the same vein creating an increasingly casualised workforce, cutting the quality
of service to the bone, and generally squeezing out the highest possible profit
for the lowest possible investment. This is a familiar story across a range of
formerly state-run services, and one that is covered from the point of view of
social services in 'The "Caring" Face of New Labour' (see page 21).

Either way you look at it, there's plenty for activists to organise around. And
if Brown's pay cuts are beaten, the knock on effects on privatisation plans can
only be positive.
The recent fight back by postal workers is a case in point. There is no doubt
that Crozier and the Royal Mail top brass, with the complete backing of the
government, want to push through savage redundancies and cuts in pay and
conditions in the run up to wholesale privatisation.

Also in this issue...

But resistance by postal workers, based on effective workplace organisation and
a willingness to go beyond the legal straight-jacket of union-sanctioned
official action, appears to have forced another rethink.

In these pages we also take a look at yet another government policy that is more
than a little to do with privatisation - namely academy schools - and the
growing resistance to them (see 'Resisting Academy Schools' - page 14). On the
subject of education, and with this year being the 90th anniversary of the
Russian revolution, we have a history session in the shape of 'Factory
Committees in the Russian Revolution' (see page 17), and 'The Revolution that
never was' (see page 18). While the first covers self-organisation among Russian
workers the second looks at the effects that the Bolshevik takeover in Russia
had on what was a vibrant revolutionary movement here in Britain. Sticking with
the theme of workers self-organising 'In the Same Boat, on the Same Journey'
covers the recent strike waves in Egypt (see page 26)…and much more besides.

And finally… One more reminder, if one were needed, of which side of the tracks
Labour's loyalties lie on. This is the revelation that the majority of the
super-rich pay no income tax. According to HM Revenue and Customs figures from
tax returns for 2003-4, only 65 out of 400 UK-based individuals who earn
£10million a year or more, declared this as taxable income. In effect, there are
legal loopholes galore being exploited to enable the rich to dodge paying tax.
In the fourth biggest economy in the world where, according to the government's
own figures, 1 in 3 children live in poverty, there is no doubt whatsoever whose
interests Brown and co. are here to serve.

To download Dispatch go to -
http://libcom.org/library/dispatch-public-sector-pay-dispute-1-august-2007
Take back the people’s game: how capitalism stole football Page 34

Direct Action
Direct Action is published by
Solidarity Federation, British
section of the International
Workers Association (IWA).
DA is edited and laid out by
the DA Collective, and print-
ed by Clydeside Press.
Views stated in these
pages are not necessarily
those of the DA Collective or
the Solidarity Federation. We
do not publish contributors'
names. Please contact us if
you want to know more.
Subscribe (For 4 issues):
Supporters ­ £10
Basic ­ £5
(Europe ­ £10; rest of the
world ­ £15).
Cheques payable to `Direct
Action' ­ return form to:
DA, PO Box 29, SW PDO,
Manchester, M15 5HW
Contribute
If you would like to help out
or contribute articles or pho-
tos, work is entirely volun-
tary. We welcome articles of
between 500-1,500 words on
industrial, social/community
and international issues; on
working class history; and on
anarchist/anarchosyndicalist
theory and history.
Articles may be sent as
hard copy, on a disk or by
email, and can only be
returned if accompanied by
a request (and SAE if appro-
priate).
Contact us
DA Collective, PO Box 29,
South West PDO, Manchester,
M15 5HW
079 84 67 52 81
da@direct-action.org.uk
Bulk Orders
AK Distribution, PO Box
12766, Edinburgh, EH8 9YE,
Scotland
0131 555 5165
ak@akedin.demon.co.uk
www.akuk.com, or direct
from the DA Collective
ISSN 0261-8753
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