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(en) Monthly news bulletin from the IWW's International Solidarity Commission ISC Issue 4

Date Mon, 01 Sep 2008 19:41:56 +0300

Greetings from the International Solidarity Commission (ISC) of the Industrial
Workers of the World (IWW) and welcome to the fourth digest of our monthly
international news letter. ---- The purpose of this newsletter is to keep our
allies around the world informed of our activities, solidarity campaigns, and
relevant international labor struggles. It is our hope that this newsletter
will contribute to building worker-to-worker solidarity through strengthened
communications and exchanges of information. ---- If you would like to
contribute story ideas or news for the bulletin, or wish to contact the ISC, you
can email solidarity@iww.org. ----- In this digest: ----- 1. IWW News

- Solidarity Forever!: Global Day of Action Targets Starbucks; Spurred by Recent
Firings in U.S., Spain

- Bringing the OBU to Portugal

2. Strengthening an International Solidarity Network in Europe and the UK - ISC
Report by DJ

3. ISC Action and Events

- ISC Delegation Protests G-8, Meets with Unions in Japan

- Sweatfree Communities Conference and Rally

- IWW Members represent ISC in India, the Ukraine, France, and Mexico

- Building Connections in Palestine and Israel

- ISC Delegates Visit Mexico

4. International Solidarity Against Lionbridge

5. Solidarity Statements and Appeals

- Condemning Police Raid on Railway Workers Union in Tokyo

- Solidarity with FAT members in Mexico

- Protesting Death Sentence for Iranian Teacher

1. IWW News

Solidarity Forever!: Global Day of Action Targets Starbucks; Spurred by Recent
Firings in U.S., Spain (adapted from starbucksunion.org statement)

The July 5th global day of action was an enormous success. Demonstrations took
place on 5 continents, in 22 countries, and multiples cities, proving the
potential of industrial, international solidarity and cooperation amongst
numerous labor organizations. Actions against Starbucks took place in:
Argentina, Chile, the British Isles, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, Norway, Serbia,
Slovakia, Poland, Slovakia, 4 cities in Spain, 14 cities in Germany, New
Zealand, 3 cities in Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Australia, Switzerland, Russia,
France and in 14 cities in the United States.

The IWW and CNT called for the day of action in response to two recent
anti-union terminations. On April 24, Starbucks fired Monica in Sevilla, Spain,
for her activity on behalf of the CNT union. She asked to be identified by only
her first name to avoid future employment discrimination. On June 6, Starbucks
fired 2 year barista Cole Dorsey in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for his activity on
behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World union. These firings come in the
midst of Unfair Labor Practice charges being investigated by the National Labor
Relations Board (NLRB) against Starbucks in Grand Rapids, including whether
Starbucks violated a previous Labor Board settlement there, and deliberations by
a judge on the anti-union terminations of three IWW baristas in New York City.

Bringing the OBU to Portugal

ISC delegate Carlos Guarita, a member of the Dorset General Membership Branch
(UK) travelled to Portugal in June and returned in July to meet with independent
workers' organizations in Portugal, including a group of workers who have
expressed interest in forming a Portuguese IWW regional organizing committee
(ROC). Prospects for a new Portugal ROC are now high. Look for updates in future
issues of the Industrial Worker and the ISC Bulletin.

2. Strengthening an International Solidarity Network in Europe and the UK

ISC Report by DJ

July 2008

At the beginning of this month, I assisted the Sixth World Archaeological
Congress in Dublin, Ireland. It was my first trip out from the Americas to
Europe and the UK, and a great opportunity to contact some of the contacts from
the International Solidarity Commission (ISC) network. I spend most of the trip
in Dublin, London and Paris, briefly visiting Bordeaux and Barcelona. I was able
to share some of my experiences as a member of the ISC with FWs, anarchists and
social justice activists, mostly concerned about current changes in the EU about
immigration and global solidarity actions that were taking place at the time.

While in Dublin, I contacted members from the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM)
through the Latin American Solidarity Centre (LASC) for participating in two
solidarity campaigns supported and promoted by the ISC. A lunchtime picket was
placed on the offices of Lionbridge in Dun Laoghaire on Friday July 4th as part
of an International Week of Solidarity with Jakob G., and there was also the
World Wide Day of Action against Starbucks on Saturday July 5th, in support of
Cole Dorsey who organised with the IWW in Grand Rapids, USA, and Monica, who was
organising for the CNT in Seville, Spain (for more info go to: www.wsm.ie and
www.lasc.ie ).

I arrived to Paris the week after the Mediterranean Counter Summit took place on
that same weekend of July 5th. There was some debate about the ISC endorsing the
manifestation with the CNT-F in Paris because it is a diverse coalition
attempting to support union work with different approaches which has caused some
organizational divides. FW Michael Ashbrook from Luxembourg IWW – GLAMROC
reported back to the ISC throwing some lights to the French scenario while
concluding about the need to keep building IWW links and participating in this
coalition that is already active, particularly important when considering the
language barriers with English and Spanish speaking countries.

Finally, I would like to add that, as a social archaeologist, I admired the
interconnection of European peoples, languages and cultures, because to me it
had a resonance of South America that I could not get over with, as much as the
UK reminded me of Canada and the US. Now that I am back in Chile for the rest of
the year, I hope to continue strengthening the IWW connections, which were
present in the past century workers' movement and that are still relevant to
workers' struggles in the American South.

3. ISC Action and Events

ISC Delegation Protests G-8, Meets with Unions in Japan

The ISC sent a delegation of workers to Japan in late June and July at the
invitation of the Tokyo-based All Freeter's Union. In addition to meeting with
the Freeters and other independent unions, the delegates also participated in
the protests and conferences being organized against the G-8 international
summit in Hokkaido. In spite of intense police repression, the demonstrations
were large and festive, with strong participation from the labor movement. The
message was clear: The G8 nations need to end their neoliberal economic policies
and imperialistic warmongering and begin addressing the needs of the people. One
of the highlights of the delegation was the Hello Union gathering, which
featured an international film festival focusing on temp workers/day labor. ISC
delegate Diane Krauthamer screened her film about the IWW Starbucks Workers
Union and gave an introduction where she talked about the Starbucks struggle, as
well as the differences in labor laws between the United States and Japan. The
delegates also had an opportunity to meet with union organizers from other
countries, including a member of the CNT-France. All in all, the delegation was
highly successful. To read the full story in the words of the delegates who were
there, and to see photos and videos from the delegation, visit

Sweatfree Communities Conference and Rally

ISC representative Mike Pesa attended the 2008 international conference of
Sweatfree Communities in Philadelphia the weekend of July 12. The conference
coincided with the National Association of Governor's annual meeting and focused
on pressuring state governments to implement effective anti-sweatshop policies
and join the Sweatfree Consortium, which supports products made under fair labor
conditions. Former factory workers from Bangladesh, Saipan, and Latin America
testified about the horrific working conditions in the apparel export zones.
Speakers also described their organizing efforts and the alternatives they are
working for. Workshops and strategy sessions took place throughout the weekend.
The high point of the conference was a rally for workers rights across the
street from the Kimmel Center, where the governors were meeting.

To see photos and video from the conference and rally, visit
http://www.phillyimc.org/en/node/71320 and

IWW Members represent ISC in India, the Ukraine, France, and Mexico

Over the past month, the ISC has authorized 5 members to represent the IWW in
India, the Ukraine, France, and Mexico.

Two members of the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the IWW were
authorized as delegates for India and the Ukraine: Fellow Worker Eli Meyerhoff
will represent the ISC during his travels through southern India from July 6th
to August 16th, where he will follow up on contacts made by Fellow Worker Jason
Fults of the Gainesville, FL branch last year. Also in July, Fellow Worker Raphi
Rechitsky will attempt to meet with independent unions and other like-minded
organizations in the Ukraine, a country that the IWW has had very little contact
with in recent years.

Fellow Worker Michael Ashbrook of the Luxemburg IWW represented the ISC at the
recent Mediterranean Counter-Summit held in Paris on July 5th and 6th; an event
held in opposition to the proposed, neoliberal Mediterranean Union. In a report
to the ISC, Ashbrook noted both the festive atmosphere of the demonstrations and
the many challenges associated with supporting union work in Africa. Ashbrook
also reported on the work of the Spanish CGT amongst migrant workers: "the slump
in the construction industry [is] hitting the migrant workers especially
hard…under the "socialist" government the period of notice to be given to a
worker before s/he can be dismissed has been cut from 45 to 33 days, with a
further cut to 12 proposed."

The ISC also authorized Fellow Workers Janky Hellface and Oliver Lanti of the
San Francisco Bay Area General Membership Branch as official ISC delegates to
Mexico during their two-week trip to Mexico City and the Oaxaca area, beginning
July 23rd, 2008. Both fellow workers have experience working in solidarity with
Mexican workers organizations and both speak some Spanish. During their trip,
the delegates will meet independent unions and workers organizations in Mexico
on behalf of the ISC and follow up on contacts made by previous representatives
and delegations.

Building Connections in Palestine and Israel

ISC delegate Sharon Vance has recently returned from a two-week trip to Israel
and the West Bank. During her trip she met with several unions and related
organizations on behalf of the ISC. The main highlight of her trip was a meeting
with Muhammed Aruri from the Ramallah-based Independent Workers Union
Federation, an organization that the ISC has previously written solidarity
statements for. The union is largely concentrated in the professional sector
(banking and universities). They are also organizing the unemployed, demanding
that the Palestinian Authority deliver on its promise to provide health
insurance for the unemployed. Sharon also met with several other groups,
including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. The PGFTU is
trying to force the Histradut (Israel's powerful business union federation) to
turn over the money it had been collecting from Palestinian workers from the
Occupied Territories who worked in Israel. So far they have only received a
fraction of what they say is owed. The PGFTU was the main union representing
blue collar workers who worked in Israel.

4. International Solidarity Against Lionbridge Union Busting

Solidarity actions against the Lionbridge corporation took place in several
countries in July. The demonstrations were in response to the unfair dismissal
of Polish Syndicalist Union (ZSP) member Jakub G. The British Isles and
American sections of the IWW have plans to picket Lionbridge locations in the
near future. Below are sections from a Workers' Solidarity Movement (Ireland)
leaflet that were handed out in an action against Lionbridge in Dublin:

Lionbridge sack worker for joining a union

Lionbridge, is a USA based multinational company that provides translation, and
software development services. They have operations in over 26 countries,
including Ireland, and everywhere they are hostile to decent pay and trade union
rights. Today there are protests outside their offices all over the world.

On February 12th, a workplace representative of the 'Workers Federation' trade
union in Lionbridge Poland was summarily dismissed. This came shortly after
staff told management that a union had been formed in the Warsaw office. To get
around the Polish law which prohibits the sacking of union representatives
without good cause, the bosses said that Jakob G. had "damaged the company's
image" and leaked confidential company information to an internet website.

This 'confidential' information was

(a) that a condition imposed on Indian firm Mentorix when they were taken over
by Lionbridge was that the firm "is not and has never been a party to or bound
by any union contract, collective bargaining agreement or similar contract".

(b) that Lionbridge drives down wages. As Mary Phelan of the Irish Translators'
& Interpreters' Association explained, "The Courts Service pays Lionbridge €46
per hour. In turn, Lionbridge pays either €25 or €20 or €17.50 to the
interpreters. We have even heard reports of €15 per hour. The rates vary
depending on when the interpreters were recruited – those recruited more
recently are paid less.

"The reduction in pay is an alarming development. Interpreters used to complain
that the hourly rate never increased despite inflation. But they never expected
reductions like these. The ITIA believes that Lionbridge favors the more
recently recruited interpreters for interpreting assignments because they cost

This information is certainly not confidential, even the Irish Independent has
written about it. All sources for the information were provided in the original
article and all are publicly available.

Management's allegations are nothing but a smokescreen to hide their old
fashioned union busting. They know that none of us has much influence on our pay
or working conditions unless we stand together. That's why workers join unions
and why bosses don't like them.

We are proud to stand by our Polish fellow workers in their struggle against
union busting. Whether we live in Walkinstown or Warsaw, we are all workers and
should stick up for each other when employers put the boot in.

5. Solidarity Statements and Appeals

Condemning Police Raid on Railway Workers Union in Tokyo

The ISC published a statement condemning a July 4th raid on the Doro-Chiba
Railway Workers Union by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. According to reports,
about 100 of the metropolitan police raided the headquarters of the Doro-Chiba
Railway Workers Union in Tokyo from approximately 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM on July
4th, 2008. When a board member of Doro-Chiba, Mr. Kawasai, pointed out a
critical error in the search warrant the police brutally grabbed hold of him,
tearing his shirt, and put him in confinement in his underwear. The ISC insisted
that this raid and the inhumane treatment of Mr. Kawasai is part of a concerted
effort to suppress peaceful protest against the G-8 Summit, a controversial
meeting of the world's eight most powerful nations, which took place in July in
Hokkaido, Japan.

The ISC declared its solidarity with the Doro-Chiba Railway Workers and all
like-minded organizations exercising their basic human right to free speech by
protesting the G8 Summit and its anti-worker agenda. The ISC pointed out that we
had sent delegates to Japan to participating in and document this historic
struggle. The ISC demanded that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and all government
bodies in Japan immediately cease this campaign of repression and respect the
right to peaceful protest. The ISC further called on the police department to
issue a public apology and compensate the victims of this raid and other
similar police actions that have taken place before and during the G8 Summit.

Solidarity with FAT members in Mexico

The ISC sent a letter to the government of Mexico demanding the immediate
reinstatement of six employees of OESSA, a cleaning services company contracted
by the government of Mexico City. The workers were fired because they were
members of the STRACC, a democratic union affiliated with the Authentic Workers
Front (FAT). These union activists were subject to forced confinement and
physical assaults by their supervisors and police officers in an effort to force
them from their jobs.

Attacks on independent unions like the FAT were common during the long era of
control by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).The Party of the
Democratic Revolution (PRD), which currently comprises the government of Mexico
City, claims to support the right to free association and formation of
democratic labor unions. However such abuses of labor rights still occur, often
through the refusal of the PRD-led city government to accept its legal
responsibility for enforcing Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution which
guarantees these rights.

Protesting Death Sentence for Iranian Teacher

The ISC issued a statement protesting the unfair trial, torture, and death
sentence passed against Mr. Farzad Kamanger, a teacher, journalist and trade
unionist in Kamyaran, Iran.

On February 25, 2008 Mr. Kamangar was arrested and charged with Moharebeh
("enmity against God") and with membership in the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
We do not believe these charges deserve a death sentence, to say the least.
However, the Revolutionary Court of Iran did not even present any solid evidence
to prove that Mr. Kamangar was a member of the PKK, an affiliation he has
vehemently denied. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other
reputable observers have insisted that Mr. Kamangar did not receive a fair trial
and that the actions of the court have not upheld even the most basic
international standards of justice. We believe it is clear that Mr. Kamangar was
convicted because of his Kurdish ethnicity and his legitimate involvement in the
labour movement, grassroots activism, and investigative journalism. It is part
of the ongoing campaign of repression against public dissent and the independent
labour movement in Iran. The ISC is also outraged that Farzad Kamangar was
severely tortured during his interrogation by Iranian authorities. Evidence of his
torture has been clearly documented.

The International Solidarity Commission of the IWW insists that this death
sentence must be overturned. Executing Farzad Kamangar would be a great
injustice that would result in widespread international condemnation of the
government of Iran. Since there has never been any real evidence that Mr.
Kamangar has committed any crimes, we also call on the government of Iran to
immediately release him, clear him of all charges, and issue a full public
apology for his wrongful imprisonment.
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