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(en) Britain, RESISTANCE #143 July-August 2012

Date Sun, 09 Sep 2012 14:12:20 +0300


Content ---- Spanish Miners Take Action ---- Noise demo outside Brixton Prison ---- Pizza the Action!! ---- On The Front Line ---- Quebec - The Struggle Continues ---- Murderous Regime in Kazakhstan Targets Workers ---- G8 2013 Mobilisation ---- Housing Action in Seville ---- Brent Teachers ---- Support Political Prisoners in Russia ---- Spanish Miners Take Action ---- Around 8,000 miners in the northern region of Asturias have been involved in ongoing strikes and militant protests after the government announced cuts to subsidies for the region’s coal mines. ---- There are around 40 mines in the country, mainly in the north, where they offer vital jobs in an increas­ingly depressed economy. The end of the subsidy will effectively mean the end of those jobs, as Spanish coal prices will increase beyond those of imported alternatives.

The strikers view winning the strike as essential to their livelihoods. It is increasingly becoming a set-piece battle as the government deepens its austerity program.

Consequently, they have utilised various forms of direct action to maximise the impact of the strike.

During the week, miners set up 16 roadblocks, severely affecting traf­fic in the region. One burning tire block caused a five-mile jam for over two hours. They also blocked access to the main port of Gijon, closed access to a major road tunnel after “persons unknown” sabotaged the CCTV, and protested outside a major power station. Attempts to break the roadblocks to transport people and goods in and out of the mines led to running battles with police. The strik­ers used rocks, concrete blocks, and home-made rocket launchers.

On June 8th miners blocked several roads and two railway lines. A mine­shaft is occupied, and strikers have camped out in the main square of the regional capital, Oviedo. One of the miners’ banners reads ““We’re not 15-M, we’re not pacifists we’re miners, and up to now we’ve been asking nicely”. (15-M is the Indigna­dos movement in Spain, similar to the Occupy! movement here and elsewhere).


Noise demo outside Brixton Prison

London Anarchist Black Cross or­ganised a solidarity demonstration outside Brixton Prison on Monday June 5th, at the height of the Royal Jubilee celebrations! Despite heavy rain 40 people supported the dem­onstration, including members of the Anarchist Federation. The police and a couple of overzealous screws unsuccessfully trying to lock some of us into the parking lot, but there were no arrests and we were heard by some prisoners inside. There was even a mention of the demo on prison radio!

Pizza the Action!!

Beginning on Friday, June 1st, around 120 workers at Palermo’s, a frozen pizza factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the United States, went on strike demanding that their union, the Palermo’s Workers Un­ion, be recognized so that they can obtain higher wages and benefits. At 8 a.m. that morning, the Palermo’s management locked the first shift workers in the factory so that they could not join their second and third shift co-workers on the picket line. Police arrived on the scene, though did not intervene to stop the lock in or press charges against the owners of the factory.

A picket line was set up round the clock and management then called in scabs. Palermo’s is threatening to fire striking workers. In addition, management has threatened to call immigration services on the strik­ing workers who are predominantly Latino. The local media has either completely ignored the strike or is providing false information about it. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – a large and generally conservative local media outlet – even claimed that “there’s no action being taken against the company” and produc­tion was not affected despite the fact that Palermos’ profits have significantly decreased because of the strike, and given that fact that the great majority of the workers are currently striking.

The Palermo’s workers are request­ing solidarity in the form of boycotts and material support in the form of water, food and other resources. As part of the boycott, the workers have requested that supporters of the strike call Palermo’s at (001) 414 643 0919 to express their solidarity with the strike and their intent to boycott the company.

So far three production lines have been forced to shut down.


On The Front Line

Merseyside Job Centre workers strike

Staff at Merseyside and Halton job centres began a three-day strike on June 12th at 29 offices. This was in response to the planned 28 per cent cuts by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The strike was well- supported and a rally took place in Liverpool city centre.

Health Workers

Workers at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust went out on strike on June 13th against the planned axing of allowances, seen as a first move in a plan to bring in privatisation. As a result of the attack on allowances workers could lose an average of £1,400 a year. Pickets were put up outside Reaside and Ardenleigh clinics.

Kirklees Wildcat

A flying picket of women administrative workers in Kirklees brought refuse workers out on a wildcat strike on June 12th. The women, who work for Kirklees council were beginning a three day strike against compulsory redundancies and attacks on pay. Strikers put up a picket outside the Vine Road bin depot to get other workers out. The bin workers voted at a hastily convened street meeting to refuse to cross the picket line, with most of them implementing that decision.

Coryton oil workers

40 workers protested outside Coryton oil refinery in Essex on June 11th and 12th week against its planned closure of the plant which would result in 850 redundancies. The workers had been promised the refinery would be bought and work would continue as normal, but the bosses reneged on this commitment. The action was followed by a march through London on June 14th to the Department of Energy and Climate Change and then on to the Shell oil Headquarters.

Coastguards strike

Coastguards carried out strike actions throughout June, striking across shifts on June 8th and 9th. This was in reply to the planned threat of the closing of 9 coastguard stations with the loss of 140 jobs.

Transport Workers

Workers employed by the Department of Transport at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) held two hour strikes on 1st and 8th June in reply to closures, privatisation and job cuts. Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) involving thousands of workers.

Newcastle cleaners

Cleaners at Tyne & Wear Metro went out on a well supported 48 hour strike from 10th June. They demanded an end to poverty pay and victimisation of cleaner militants. Churchill’s, the company employing them, had imposed a pay freeze whilst increasing the salaries of the directors!!

Quebec- The Struggle Continues

In the June issue of Resistance we reported on the massive mobilisation in Quebec against austerity. We now reprint the statement from the Common Cause anarchist organisation in Canada. Early on the student strike in Quebec adopted the slogan “it is a student strike, and a popular struggle”. Over the course of this unprecedented strike, the slogan has become a reality, as people from all sectors of society have joined the students in opposition to the neoliberal government of Jean Charest and his Liberal party. As this is written, neighbourhood committees are forming in Montreal and daily protests, including the now famous casseroles (pots and pans) protests, are occurring across Quebec – including in small towns and regions not known for their militancy. The legitimacy of the government and its police force is being called into question as tens of thousands defy its “special law 78”, which criminalizes spontaneous protests among other measures.

The student strike has indeed become a popular struggle. While no one could have predicted that the student strike would spill across society, this development is not entirely without a foundation in recent struggles, and this foundation is best exemplified by the Coalition Against User Fees and the Privatization of Public Services.

Founded in the spring of 2010 in response to the austerity budget of the Charest government, the Coalition consists of 137 member-groups, including community organizations (e.g. anti-poverty, health, housing), student unions, feminist groups and various union locals and district councils. The community groups are one of the two driving forces of the Coalition. These groups, whose members are most sharply affected by austerity, have a history of militancy unlike anywhere else in Canada. Nicolas Phebus, who works for FRAPRU, a housing group, and member of the Coalition, described it as “Quebec having dozens of OCAPs” (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty).

The student unions, led by the syndicalist Association Pour Une Solidarité Syndicale Etudiante -ASSÉ (the leading student federation of the strike movement), has been the second main driving force of the Coalition. With the major Quebec union federations opting not to join the Coalition – because of their inability to effectively lead it – and the member union locals playing largely a secondary role, it has fallen on ASSÉ and the student movement to mobilize large numbers behind the Coalition’s actions. And according to Phebus, ASSÉ “has done the heavy lifting of the Coalition”, bringing thousands of students into the streets and adding a force to the Coalition's actions that the community groups alone could not muster.

After the Coalition realized that the union movement was not serious about organizing for a social strike modelled on the Ontario Days of Action - “it became clear this was a pipe dream” says Phebus - the Coalition decided on a strategy of escalating disruptive direct actions, including numerous aggressive occupations of MPPs (Members of Provincial Parliament) offices. The painted red handprint emerged as the symbol of the Coalition after members began dipping their hands in red paint and leaving hand prints on the walls of MPPs offices.

The Coalition has also turned to blockading government offices, such as the Hydro Quebec headquarters, and most recently they shut down the Montreal Stock Exchange (as the student strike was underway). The now infamous Victoriaville protests outside the Liberal party's convention, where police nearly killed protesters using plastic bullets, was also organized by the Coalition. This strategy of escalating economic disruption was later adopted by ASSÉ, and has been effectively employed during the current strike.

According to Phebus, the Coalition's members – especially the community and feminist groups and some rank-and-file public sector workers – have undergone a real radicalization over the past two years in the course of these actions, and this has continued during the course of the student strike. “We are seeing in Quebec a reinvention of social action" says Phebus. “Direct action has gone from a catchphrase to a mass practice of economic disruption. It is on the agenda in a real way and there is a feeling that it can be done. We have moved from having social organizations or institutions to where we now have a true social movement.”

This new-found militancy can also be seen in the demands raised by the Coalition, which has moved from making defensive demands (e.g. stop the cuts) to discussing bold ideas such as free education, new social housing, and the abolition of welfare – and its replacement with a guaranteed income. “What were once seen as radical demands now appear as a matter of political choice'' says Phebus.

Having never been corporatist (focused only on the interests of its own members), ASSÉ and by extension the student movement as a whole, is now on the receiving end of solidarity from other social sectors. That the Quebec government “has not been able to isolate ASSÉ, is in good part because of its work [in the Coalition]”. And, according to Phebus, it is likely that even after the student strike, the social uprising sparked by the student movement will continue – with the Coalition on the frontlines. “The government's next attack will come in the form of a raise in hydro rates directly targeting the Coalition's community base.”

Murderous Regime in Kazakhstan Targets Workers

Last December oil workers went out on strike. In the city of Zhanaozen armed police opened fire on strikers killing seventy of them.

Now the Kazakhstan government has put 37 workers and their supporters on trial for “ organising and participating in mass unrest”. Only three of the 37 have been cleared of all charges. 21 of those on trial were sentenced to either two or three years in prison, with the sentence suspended or, in a couple of cases, subject to amnesty. 13 activists, however, received actual prison sentences ranging from three years and in the case of Roza Tuletaeva, seven years.

Rosa Tulataeva after her arrest had plastic bags put over her head and was beaten with iron rods. To disguise the one-sided treatment of the strikers, the public prosecutor also initiated proceedings against a small number of police and officials when many more were implicated in the massacre.

Another wave of arrests of strikers has now taken place with up to 15 more workers expected to be put on trial. After questioning one worker activist was driven to commit suicide.

Kazakhstan is ruled by the regime of Nursultan Nurzubayev. This thug and his cronies is backed by Russia, with the West remaining completely mute on the terrible crimes committed there. One of the regime’s “international advisers” is Tony Blair.

Tony Blair and Kazakhstan

Blair works part time for the Kazakhstan regime as a presidential adviser. He recently appeared in a 67 minute film praising the regime, produced by Kazakh state television. The Kazakh regime has not revealed how much it is paying Blair, but one rumour is circulating that it is $13 million! In addition Portland Communications, run by Tim Allan, a former senior adviser to Blair and Director of Communications at BskyB (well, well) have become advisers to the regimes in Russia and Kazakhstan. It recently recruited Blair’s henchman Alistair Campbell. Campbell was spotted at the airport for Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Portland is also involved in managing Kazakhstan’s communications system!! Sir Richard Evans, formerly of weapons merchant and master of war BAE Systems, is now at the head of the giant holding company Samruk, set up by the Kazakh regime. Evans was one of the privileged few who had immediate access to Blair whilst he was in power. Samruk owns, either in whole or in part, many important companies in the country, including the national rail and postal service, the state uranium company Kazatomprom, Air Astana, many financial groups and… the state oil and gas company KazMunayGas!! Evans has hired another Blair crony, Peter Mandelson, to give promotional speeches for Sarmuk.

Another ally of the bloodstained regime is Prince Andrew who recently sold a house valued at £3million to Nazarbayev’s son-in-law for £12 million. Funny that.


Mobilisation
Mobilisation against the G8 summit in the UK in 2013. An initial meeting will take place on Sunday 15th July , from 11am to 6pm, at the Community Base centre in Brighton, hosted by people from the Smash EDO campaign. In 2013 the UK is once again host to the G8 Summit. That means that, for the first time since 2005, the leaders of eight of the world’s most powerful capitalist nations will meet in the UK. Info at: smashedo@riseup.net


Housing Action in Seville
“Twenty families in urgent need of housing, organised through 15M (a group similar to the Occupy! movement), have squatted an empty building in Avenida de Juventudes Musicales, (the Avenue of Musical Youth!) to make homes for themselves there under the name of Patio of Neighbours “La Utopia” and to “make visible the terrible housing problem that so many people suffer”.

The building has been empty since it was completed in 2010. Instead of it sitting empty, twenty families have made it their home.

This statement from Barrios en Lucha (Neighbourhoods in Struggle), received on Monday 14th of May, about the occupation of Corrala de Vecinas la Utopia, is the latest in a militant struggle over housing taking place in Spain. The building is an empty apartment block, never let since it was built, which is owned by a property company which has gone bankrupt, with a mortgage owing to the bank Ibercaja. The families squatting the building are homeless, some have been evicted from their homes by the banks after being unable to pay the mortgage, some are tenants who have fallen into rent arrears. There are now thirty six families as more people have moved in. In their own words, “We are a group of people who have an urgent need of housing. The crisis, like it has many people, has hurt us. We are workers, poor people, who have lost our jobs.”

Since moving in the occupiers of la Corrala have been suffering harassment including the disconnection of the electricity and, from Tuesday 8th June, the water as well, even though there are people inside in a serious state of ill health.

The occupiers of la Corrala are cleaners, building labourers, hairdressers, supermarket cashiers, who have for years handed over most of their wages to pay for the roof over their heads, and when they have lost their jobs and cannot pay any more, they have been put out in the street. In the block where one woman was living, thirty families have been evicted from their homes. Most of the squatters in la Corrala de Vecinas la Utopia come from la Macarena, which currently has the highest rate of mortgage foreclosures in the city. Seville now has 100,000 empty flats in the metropolitan area, which has a population of around one million.

La Corrala have received support from the strong housing movement in Seville and from 15 M. There have been demonstrations of hundreds of people in support of the occupation and in protest at the withdrawal of gas and water. They are not the first group of people to do this in the city as there is the example of the abuelas of San Bernardo, the “granny squatters” who are elderly people whose homes were uninhabitable, have been able to get themselves decent homes by squatting.

Another occupation occurred on June 13th when there was a marche to the local parliament with a list of demands including the legalisation of squatting. They marched from there to the town centre and broke down bricked up doors with sledgehammers in broad daylight, while other people blocked the road. Five families have squatted there. They were people who had previously gone to the Corrala to ask for help but it is now full. They self organised and have now squatted these flats.

Brent Teachers
Teachers at Alperton Community school in Brent, London went out on strike on May 31st against the plan to turn their school into an academy. School governors are driving this through despite a staff ballot with two thirds against the move. The chair of the governors is a member of the Labour Party and Brent Council, with a Labour majority, has supported the move. This is in line with their decision to close down six local public libraries. When protestors blockaded the libraries against these closures, there was a recent night raid organised by the Labour council which stripped Kensal Green library of its books and other assets.

Labour have shown once again that they are as much enemies of the working class as the Tories and LibDems.

Support Political Prisoners in Russia
Igor Kharchenko was arrested in September 2011. He is accused of having participated in a fight on the 4th of July 2010, during which the audience of a punk hardcore concert dispersed a band of right wing nationalists, who had come in order to kill and maim concert guests. Igor, however, did not take part in the fight - plenty of those present at the concert have given testimony that during the fight Igor was performing in the concert. The whole case against Igor relies exclusively on the testimony of failed “race warriors”, V. Sumin and V. Zhidousouv. The true reason for the arrest of Kharchenko is an attempt by Moscow investigators to take revenge on their failure to jail anyone for the action by anti-fascists against the Khimki city administration on the 28th of July 2010. Igor’s co accused is one of the “Khimki hostages”, who has received refugee status in Western Europe after UNCHR recognised, that the police investigation on the Khimki case was carried out with various violations, for example confessions gained through use of torture. Moscow investigators ignored the fact, that during this fight Solopov was in Turkey, which is confirmed by the stamps in his passport, and plenty of eye-witnesses. The investigation also attempts to indict Kharchenko for “organising of an extremist community,” according to statute 282.1 of the Russian criminal codex.

More on the case against Kharchenko: http://avtonom.org/en/people/igor-kharchenko

Butyrka prison has also a form, which you may use in order to send letters: http://wr1.fsin-service.ru/Letter-Client/main.html#new_letter
However, this form is only in Russian and paying for the service (minimal payment is around 1.20 euros) requires either a Russian bank account or account in some internet payment system, common in Russia (such as yandex.dengi or webmoney). In the form, you must indicate year of birth of Kharchenkio - 1991.

Write to:

Kharchenko Igor Olegovich

FKU SIZO-2 UFSIN Rossii po g. Moskve

ul. Novoslobodskaya d. 45

127055 Moskva Russia

Sutuga Alexey Vladimirovich

FKU SIZO-2 UFSIN Rossii po g. Moskve

ul. Novoslobodskaya d. 45

127055 Moskva Russia


Alexey Sutuga has been a member of Autonomous Action since the early 2000s. He was first active in Irkutsk and then in Moscow. He participated in every single major campaign of the anarchist movement in the past ten years, and supported the journal Avtonom. In 2007, he joined the ecological protest camp against uranium enrichment in city of Angarsk in Siberia, which was assaulted by nationalists in the early morning hours. Ilya Borodaenko from Nahodka was murdered there, and a number of other visitors of the camp were seriously wounded. Alexey was arrested on the evening of 17th of April, and has been in remand prison since then. He, together with Alexey Olesinov, is accused of having taken part in an incident in the Moscow club “Vozdukh”, where on 17th of December, during a punk-hardcore concert, a conflict between the audience and the security took place. The club security, consisting of supporters of the far right, were provoking guests. Due to the conflict, the concert was stopped prematurely, but the security attempted to take some guests hostage, threatening them with punishment from their friends - nationalist football hooligans. Concert guests resisted, the security opened fire with rubber coated metal bullets, but soon the concert-goers gained the upper hand and the security was neutralised.

Write to:

Sutuga Alexey Vladimirovich

FKU SIZO-2 UFSIN Rossii po g. Moskve

ul. Novoslobodskaya d. 45

127055 Moskva Russia

--



Resistance bulletin no. 143, July 2012

The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
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