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(en) Britain, Anarchist Federation Resistance #145, October 2012

Date Mon, 22 Oct 2012 10:54:04 +0200


Contents ---- A Future that is NO FUTURE! - The TUC rally on 20th Oct ---- Disabled People Fight Back – Pickets in Manchester against ATOS tests ---- Fight for Sites: Mass Action – following Dale Farm eviction last year ---- Friern Barnet Library Users Resist Closure – London library saves -- Anti-nuclear Activists Interrupt Arms Giants Seminar -- On the Front Line – workplace resistance round up --- London Metropolitan University – opposing UK Borders Agency ---- The Labour Party: “It’s good to be rich” - says the people's party ---- Police Kettle Brighton Queers Against the Cuts ---- Sparks Actions Continue – rank and file electricians dispute ---- Jailed Kazakhstan Workers’ Appeals Rejected ---- Write to a Prisoner! ---- A Future that is NO FUTURE! ---- On the morning of October 20th yet another TUC (Trades Union Council) sponsored march and rally will set off from Embankment, London.

Once again traipsing the tried and tested route towards Hyde Park, the event has been dubbed “A Future That Works”. The TUC are telling us that another well supported march will stop the government in its tracks, frighten them into halting their austerity programmes, their cuts to services and their attacks on pensions and working conditions.

Did the huge demonstration supported by as many as a million people in February 2003 stop the Labour government continuing its war against Iraq?

Did the large “March for the Alternative”- called by the TUC on 26th March last year and supported by 250,000 people - make this government change its policies?

No. If anything, these A to B marches demonstrate that the number of people on the streets is irrelevant to those in power.

The TUC tell us about a Future That Works. But the “future” that they envisage is more of the same, a mythical Golden Age that never really existed, where there was prosperity and equality under a benign welfare state. They blame the bankers for the present situation we are in, conveniently letting the whole capitalist system off the hook. They say: “The existing banks aren’t lending to growing businesses. We need new banks interested in jobs and the needs of the economy. A national industrial bank can fund big projects, while every region could have its own local bank.”

How would “new banks” be any different from the old ones? Banks are there to make profit. Their nature cannot somehow be changed.

The TUC talk about “the gap between the super-rich and everyone else”. They ignore the existence of a working class, and they ignore the existence of a ruling class, focussing only on some elements within that ruling class, the “bad” elements. Once upon a time the TUC actually used the rhetoric of talking about the working class, but now even that phony rhetoric has gone. The British trade union bureaucracy now appear perfectly happy with a class system, one in which some people become wealthy while most of us struggle.

According to the TUC: “We need policies to put right what has gone wrong and gives us an economy that works for ordinary British families”. What are these “ordinary British families”? The TUC knows the audience it is aiming its propaganda at. It knows that people are in different social situations and yet it is reduced to denying the diversity of life in Britain, with many people not living in the situation of an “ordinary British family”. Ethnic background and sexual orientation are completely ignored. They focus on Britain as if the problems that “ordinary” people face happen in Britain only as if the economic crisis that is biting into everyday life was not experienced by people elsewhere in the world, be it Greece or Spain, Latin America or South Africa.

The TUC cites the US example of successful government intervention in the economy where “US unemployment has gone down, while it has continued to go up in the UK”. Apart from the fact that this may well be only temporary and that the long term trend in the USA will be towards further unemployment, it fails to mention that this was bought at the cost of wages being frozen whilst inflation grew sharply and that the fall in the unemployment rate was because many had actually given up looking for an illusory job!

The TUC talks now about a Winter of Discontent and of a possible general strike. It talks and it talks and it talks. This rhetoric - and rhetoric is all it is - is only there to head off demands from workers for real action. In fact it will do NOTHING. More “lunch-time strikes” anyone?
It is up to us to take the fight against austerity and the cuts into our own hands. We need action that is controlled by us, direct action and not action mediated by bureaucrats. In this issue of Resistance we cite the example of Barnet where new and exciting ways of countering the cuts are emerging, where people from different movements are forming the beginnings of new alliances. We also cite the example of the rank and file electricians who are ignoring the union bureaucrats and relying on mass action.

Unite the struggles - create links between workers fighting against cuts in pay and conditions and pensions, students in schools, colleges and universities fighting against the austerity measures, pensioners, and the unemployed.

Attacking the bankers is only part of the solution; the whole of the present system is unjust and rotten. It cannot be reformed. There is no such thing as a “nice” capitalism. It must be replaced with a new society based on equality and social justice, a society based on mass decision-making and mass participation, without exploitation, hierarchy, injustice and war.

Disabled People Fight Back

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) mounted pickets in Manchester in late August, outside the Atos reporting centre. They were called to coincide with the Paralympics, hypocritically sponsored by Atos. Every week 32 people die after being forced back into work because they have failed tests by Atos for incapacity benefit.

Other demonstrations took place in Sheffield, Newcastle and other cities across the country. Workers and pensioners joined the actions.

In London, 500 people picketed the city centre HQ of the privately owned, government contracted company. This action was joined by striking Remploy strikers and people from Occupy London. They then blockaded and occupied the Department of Work and Pensions, & were attacked without any provocation. Police used heavy handed tactics and pushed the crowd without any concern for the disabled wheelchair users lined up in front of the door, despite being repeated warned that less ably bodied people were being placed at risk. Their actions resulted in one of the protesters having his shoulder broken. Another wheelchair user’s chair was broken in this unprovoked use of force by the police. The police made several attempts to unbalance protestors at the front of the crowd and broke one man’s glasses.

One of the peaceful protesters inside, who was there to support activists occupying the foyer of the DWP building, heard what was happening and attempted to alert police to the fact there were wheelchair users being crushed in the line and in danger of being hurt. As a result he was arrested. Legal observers who attended the event will have witnessed this incident. At the end of the protest those occupying the DWP foyer left voluntarily and the demonstration ended peacefully and without further incident.

DPAC: Disabled People Against Cuts: http://www.dpac.uk.net/

Statement from DPAC:
http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/press-release-following-police-violence/

Fight for Sites: Mass Action

Join us on the anniversary of the Dale Farm eviction to fight for sites!

One Year Ago, at dawn on 19 October 2011, hundreds of riot police and bailiffs stormed the Dale Farm Traveller community in Essex to carry out one of the largest and most brutal evictions in the UK.

This October, we target the Department for Communities & Local Government to fight for an end to evictions and the right to a home.
One year on, Dale Farm has been transformed into a virtual bombsite, filled with stagnant water, raw sewage and toxic waste. 83 homeless families are living on the roadside with no electricity, running water or sanitation.

As one mother put it, ‘Why would we be living here if we had somewhere else to go?’
Dale Farm is just one example of a cycle of forced evictions that Travellers and Gypsies across the UK face every day. Underlying these evictions is a severe deficit of authorised transit and permanent sites for Gypsies and Travellers. The travelling way of life has been effectively criminalised by legislation making it illegal to travel and impossible to stay.

In 2011, an estimated 17% of Gypsy and Traveller families were forced to live on ‘unauthorised’ illegal sites, either because they have been denied planning permission for land they own or there are not enough council-run sites to house them. They face harassment, evictions and homelessness. An undocumented number of Gypsies and Travellers have been forced into ‘bricks and mortar’ against their will due to the shortage of sites.

Eric Pickles’ Department for Communities and Local Government funded the Dale Farm eviction to the tune of £1.2 million. They are also leading the wholesale attack on Gypsy and Traveller rights, abolishing local government targets for the provision of sites and strengthening powers to evict through the Localism Act.

It’s time to fight back.

Join us for a mass action at 1pm, 19 October 2012, Victoria Station, London, in solidarity with the Dale Farm families and countless other travelling communities facing eviction, to fight for sites.

Dale Farm Solidarity, London

Friern Barnet Library Users Resist Closure

Barnet is not well known for its radicalism – not since a group of 17th century Diggers set up a colony there along the lines of Gerrard Winstanley’s better known Surrey settlement. But now there are stirrings, thanks to the efforts of some feisty, imaginative local anti-cuts campaigners and a group of equally imaginative anarchist squatters originally based in Camden.

In April 2012 the notoriously right-wing Barnet Council announced the closure of Friern Barnet library, giving only 24 hours notice. The reaction was instantaneous. The library was occupied by library users and local people. They had to leave as the library was forcibly closed down, but straight away a series of ‘pop-up’ libraries began on land next to the library building, lending out books as Friern Barnet People’s Library. These events also became hubs for anti-cuts campaigning in general, with local cafes and shopkeepers providing free food and other help.

Then in early September a group of squatters gained entry to the library and made immediate contact with the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign. A common understanding and approach was speedily worked out and now the library is open for business six days a week, run by locals and activists and a range of other cultural activities are also under way. It has proved an eye-opener for both the squatters, in terms of the overwhelming level of local commitment to the library, and for local campaigners, confirming yet again how effective direct action can be.

The ultimate aim is not to set up a ‘Big Society’ volunteer library, but to force the council to return to the people of Barnet what was theirs to start with – a full scale library purpose-built to serve local people ‘in perpetuity’.

Anti-nuclear Activists Interrupt Arms Giants Seminar

The “Introduction to Nuclear Defence” seminar, held in Beardmore Hotel Clydebank on 6th and 7th September, invited “young delegates” for two days of seminars and presentations on nuclear defence topics from “leading industry figures”. The programme, only open to UK passport holders subject to stringent security checks, included a tour of Faslane naval base where the entire British nuclear weapons submarine fleet is based.

Seven activists from Faslane Peace Camp entered the seminar room to interrupt the proceedings and question the legitimacy of preparing a new generation of young people for employment in the nuclear arms industry. They presented the delegates with large posters with images of victims of Hiroshima suffering the effects of radiation burns as a result of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city in 1945 instantly killing 70,000 civilians. The peace activists read out first hand accounts from Hiroshima survivors in unison before being ushered out by hotel security.

On the Front Line

Rail Cleaners

Cleaners working for ISS on East Coast mainline and London Midland picketed King’s Cross station in central London in early September after going on a 24 hour strike with a banner reading “Wages not peanuts”.

Capita

Workers at IT company Capita suspended industrial action after bosses said they would back down on pushing through job losses and offshoring.

Remploy

Workers at Remploy went out on strike for five days in early September - in Chesterfield for five days, in Springburn, Glasgow for four. They were then joined by workers striking at factories in Scotland at Leven, Cowdenbeath and Clydebank. Remploy, which employs disabled people, has closed 24 factories in the last month. In Chesterfield hundreds of workers joined Remploy strikers on a march through the town. Remploy workers were among those who joined a picket in Glasgow for George Osborne’s visit to the Scottish Confederation of British Industry.

Nursery Closures

HM Revenue and Customs management announced plans to axe 8 onsite nurseries in Leicester, Wolverhampton, East Kilbride, Cardiff, Nottingham, Leeds, Salford and Blackburn Revenue and Customs offices. They gave 12 weeks notice with no explanation for their decision. This has provoked widespread anger. Many parents will be unable to continue working because of this. Parents and children mounted pickets on 14th September in Cardiff and East Kilbride.

Amnesty International

At least 30 workers went on strike on 12th September at the London offices of Amnesty International, the first strike there in over 20 years. They took action because management plan to “restructure” and save £2.5 million. Part of this saving would involve redundancies.
So far management have refused to give in and further action is on the cards.

London Metropolitan University

Workers and students at London Metropolitan University called for actions on a Britain-wide level against a decision by the administration to throw 3,000 international students off courses. This followed a ruling by the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) that London Met were not keeping proper records of international students. The students, who paid fees for their courses, now have to look for alternative courses. If they don’t get on courses, they risk being deported. The UKBA decision is part of the move by this government to crack down on immigration. Over 300 workers and students demonstrated outside the Home Office against this decision on 12th September. Supporters are encouraged to sign the amnesty now petition - currently at over 7,500 signatures:
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/amnesty-for-international-students-at-london-metropolit/

The Labour Party: “It’s good to be rich”

The TUC’s real agenda is not a successful attack on the austerity programme of this government but to return Labour to power at the next election. As Labour leader Ed Miliband said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph on 14th September, he will “not pass moral judgement” on those who become filthy rich - this is not very different from Peter Mandelson announcing that he was “intensely relaxed” about becoming “filthy rich”.

Miliband wants to “save capitalism from itself”. He wants the “creativity” of capitalism to be harnessed and this broken, vicious system to become “more decent” and “humane”. In his own words: “capitalism is the least worst system we’ve got”. Such statements are evidence – as if more were really needed – that the Labour party are just as delusional and profiteering as their political “opponents” in the Con-Dem coalition government.

Police Kettle Brighton Queers Against the Cuts

Members of Brighton Queers Against the Cuts have told how they were kettled and persistently harassed by the police at Brighton Pride Parade on 25th August . London Queers Against the Cuts, who were guests of the Brighton group, observed the events first hand, testifying to the heavy handedness of the police: “There seemed to have been trouble before the parade moved off – with our section mysteriously being moved to the back of the parade.” said Richard Farnos, London QUAC Co-Convenor.

“But the real trouble began” said Richard “as the parade moved off when some latecomers sought to join the group. Led by a belligerent steward (who at one point threatened to have me thrown off the march for asking why people couldn’t join the parade), a group of police on horseback and on foot cut in front us and began to kettle the group.”
A member of the London group moved forward to inform the organisers of the Parade about what was going on. However, he largely found them unhelpful.

Richard Farnos observed “In a parallel discussion I had with another steward she questioned whether something ‘so overtly political’ should be on the parade at all and even suggested that somehow we would let fascists join our group on the march!”

The QUAC groups were finally allowed to continue but the harassment continued. The contingent was surrounded by police and people were prevented from joining.

“I saw people physically thrown back into the crowds,” Richard continued ”Indeed the behaviour of the police was reckless and dangerous, at one point the horses were so close to us that one licked my neck. We had older and disabled people with us and one stumble and fall and we would have all been under the horses.”

“I have been a political activist since the eighties and have been on many a demo. The police behaviour does not surprise me.” Richard concluded ”What is a new experience however was the complete lack of support from the Pride organisers. Are they so enamoured with the corporate pound that the plight of HIV+ people who will lose their benefits; or young LGBT people who will become homeless has no interest to them? The day when Pride stops being political is the point when Pride will become pointless!”

Sparks Actions Continue

Rank and file electricians are continuing to take action against employers, putting on pickets and demonstrations at sites throughout Britain in August and September in Cardiff (Royal Infirmary) Leeds ( at the Laing O’Rourke site), London, and Scotland, where a picket took place at the Balfour Beatty offices. Balfour’s are denying that they are blacklisting activists, to the scepticism of sparks.

A leading rank and file sparks activist has been told he can return to work after accusations that his employers, Balfour Beatty were attempting to punish him for his role in the seven-month BESNA dispute.

Stewart Hume was told by managers at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services that he was being paid off, despite the company employing less skilled and less-well experienced electricians over the same period.

Earlier the same week workers had threatened disruptive, unofficial action at construction sites around the country if he was not allowed back to work.

The company has now informed him that he could return to work from Monday (10 September) for four weeks.
Hume and other workers remain worried that he might not receive long-term work and are prepared for more action.

Jailed Kazakhstan Workers’ Appeals Rejected

A court in Kazakhstan has rejected appeals by 12 oil workers against prison sentences ranging from two to six years, imposed for their part in last year’s strikes.

One activist, Roza Tuletaeva, had her sentence cut from seven years to five – but her family fear this is part of a campaign to force her to give evidence against political oppositionists in an upcoming trial. Threats against Tuletaeva’s children by the KNB security service have made her suicidal, they warn.

The appeals were heard, and almost all rejected, by the judge on 2 August. The prisoners were not permitted to attend the hearing.
Lawyers appealed against the sentences on the grounds that the defendants had admitted their part in last year’s protests; that they had no previous convictions; that in some cases guilt had not been proved; and that most of the prisoners had underage children and were in many cases the household breadwinner.

The appeal verdicts were another blow to the oil workers of Zhanaozen, the oil town where on 16 December police fired on demonstrators demanding improved wages and conditions, killing at least 16 and wounding at least 64.

Prisoners’ families and other oil workers who crowded the court room told journalists that they were “shocked”. They angrily compared the appeal verdicts with those pronounced on two former akims (mayors) of Zhanaozen, who have both been convicted of large-scale corruption and handed two-year conditional sentences.

Human rights activists fear that the pressure on Tuletaeva by the security forces bodes ill for the trial of political oppositionists Vladimir Kozlov, Serik Sapargali and Akzhanat Aminov. They have been charged with “inciting social conflict”, because they supported last year’s strikes by oil workers.

Tuletaeva’s daughter, Aliya, told opposition newspapers that her mother had telephoned her from detention and said that KNB officers had threatened to “do something” to her children.

Aliya believes that Roza Tuletaeva was threatened by the same KNB officer who tortured her in pre-trial detention. She also thinks that KNB officers forced her mother to sign a declaration against the opposition politician Vladimir Kozlov, but that they are worried she will renounce it in court.

Earlier this year Resistance reported on the involvement of Tony Blair and his chums in supporting and gaining financial benefits from the Kazakhstan regime.

Write to a Prisoner!

We live in a time of unprecedented repression, when more people than ever from our class, and from our movement, are going to prison, and for longer. In spite of this, as always, there are still those who are prepared to fight back. It is vital that we show our support & solidarity to class struggle prisoners

Many prisoners’ addresses from around the world are listed on the websites of the Anarchist Black Cross groups.

For excellent advice on contacting prisoners download the free PDF leaflet by Leeds Anarchist Black Cross called ‘Writing to Prisoners’ from:
http://www.leedsabc.org/

For loads of news, information and links about prisons check the Campaign Against Prison Slavery website at:
http://www.againstprisonslavery.org/

Liked Resistance? Try Organise!

Organise! is the Anarchist Federation’s theoretical and historical magazine. It is published in order to develop anarchist communist ideas. It aims to give a clear anarchist viewpoint on contemporary issues, and initiate debates on areas not normally covered in agitational journals.
You can order or subscribe online at www.afed.org.uk, or get in touch with your local AF group for a copy.

Subscriptions

Organise! single issue (including postage and packing):
£3.50 UK/£4.00 EU /£4.50 rest of world

Annual subscription to Organise! (two issues, saving £1/year or 50p/issue):
£6 UK/£7 EU /£8 rest of world

Resistance subscription (10 issues per year, to cover postage and packing):
For UK addresses only:£8.00
Anywhere in Europe: £15.00
Rest of World: £20.00


Anarchist Federation

The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists (based in Britain and Ireland, but with many contacts overseas) which aims to abolish Capitalism and all oppression to create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism.

We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.

As the capitalist system rules the whole world it’s destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it such as working through parliament and national liberation movements (like the IRA) as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them, they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.

Organisation is vital if we’re to beat the bosses, so we work for a united anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations.

National Contact

Email: info [at] afed.org.uk
Web: www.afed.org.uk

Write to:
BM ANARFED,
London, WC1N 3XX,
England, UK.

International of Anarchist Federations:
www.i-f-a.org/

Download RESISTANCE bulletin issue #145 October 2012 [PDF]:
http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist145.pdf

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