(eng) F.O.B.U. Federation of Occupation Based Unions

Jura Folks (class@chaos.apana.org.au)
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 12:51:03 +0200


>From rw099610.html

'Seize the Moment' Congress Report

On the weekend of 14th/15th September 30 to 40 anarchists met in Melbourne
to discuss setting up a "federation of occupation based unions." The
meeting was called by the Libertarian Workers (who put out the "Anarchist
Age"), and its immediate stimulus was projected industrial legislation of
the Liberal Govt. which some thought might inadvertenly create new
opportunities for anarchist workplace activism.

The "F.O.B.U." was duly set up consisting initially of three groups:
health, community and agriculture. Some people are also interested in
setting up manufacturing, and education groups. The idea of an
"occupation-based union" is the same as an industrial union in that all
workers in a given industry regardless if trade or profession may join;
unemployed, retired and self-employed workers associated with a given
industry and students, may also join. The "community" group (social
workers, etc) and the "agriculture" group are also open to anyone
interested in these areas, at least at this stage. The groups have yet to
work out detailed principles of organisation; it is not clear, for example
whether or not the traditional syndicalist prohibition against members with
the power to "hire or fire" will apply.

The most organised so far of the groups, the "health" group which plans to
have a publication out in 4-6 weeks, a public meeting in 8 weeks, and a
congress in 12 months. A member of the group commented that health was a
"largely non-unionised" field; and also that due to the number of self
employed "health workers" who needed to hire for example a secretary, it
was possibly impractical to apply the "no hiring or firing" rule.

My own impression is that the "F.O.B.U." is unlikely to develop into an
anarcho-syndicalist organisation; but in spite of that it should attract
the friendly interest of anarcho-syndicalists. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to
build organisations of wage-workers dedicated first of all to their
collective self-interest and broadening out from there into wresting
control of their industry from the bosses and ultimately into building a
free society, the "collective self interest" of humanity.

The F.O.B.U. group seem to start from a different angle, based not upon the
wage workers need to resist oppression but upon society's need for certain
types of work to be done. The ethos of the F.O.B.U. has more in common with
the ethos (in theory) of medieval guilds or present day middle class
professional associations than with working class unions. Possibly this is
simply due to the nature of the occupational groups. But I don't think so;
I think the F.O.B.U. will take shape as a federation of anarchists and
anarchist sympathisers interested in the various socially necessary tasks.
As such its appearance should be welcomed and its development encouraged
without mistaking it for an anarcho-syndicalist organisation.

F.O.B.U. "National Co-ordinator's" address is P.O. Box 6, Alpington. 3078.
Melbourne. Australia

<BLINK>Yikes</blink>; I'm not sure of that PO Box,above. It may be 5006, or
6 ... I'll confirm.

The next Congress is set for Feb.2nd 1997, at Ross House in Melbourne.

Jeremy

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