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(en) Ukraine: Report from the Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists "Nestor Makhno" February 2003

From "Will Firth" <will.firth@t-online.de>
Date Sat, 8 Mar 2003 15:26:24 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

A Report from the Revolutionary Confederation of
Anarcho-Syndicalists "Nestor Makhno" (RKAS)
*The Syndicalist Movement is Born* 
A working group has been set up in the Ukraine to promote
anarcho-syndicalist union initiatives. There are now a number of
such initiatives thanks to the ongoing work of
anarcho-syndicalist activists and workers' groups in the Donetsk
region, as well as in Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov. The new
working group, whose aim is to form a General Labour
Confederation of the Ukraine (VKT), is made up of local union
activists - miners, transport workers, students, and education
and cultural workers. The VKT is to be a union for all organized
workers who are prepared to defend their rights independent of
party politics and state structures and whose goal is to foster
self-organization and self-management in the workplace and
society. The VKT will devote its attention to: 
- defending members' wages and working conditions 
- helping members who have lost their jobs 
- common leisure activities 
- social insurance 
- education (learning self-organization skills, studying
anarcho-syndicalist experience, methods, practice and
principles, examining social problems and ways of resolving
- building up the Workers' Guard (self-defence force) 
- introducing workers' control and self-management in the

The plan to set up the initiative and establish the VKT
originated from the RKAS and representatives of a regional
section of the Independent Miners Union of the Ukraine (NPGU),
as well as independent groups of transport and education

*An Alternative Youth Centre* 

In the summer of 2002 a young people's union called the
"Alternative Youth Centre" (AMT) was set up in Donetsk. Further
branches are likely to be formed this year in Makeyevka and
Yasinovataya (cities in the Donetsk region with populations of
700,000 and 200,000 respectively). The AMT's members are young
people - students, musicians, actors, computer freaks and
educationalists - who agree with anarcho-syndicalist methods and
generally share anarcho-syndicalist views. The AMT aims to
advance self-organization and self-managed groups in the youth
scene by defending its members' interests and supporting social

On 16 October 2002 the AMT and RKAS organized a protest action
against McDonald's which attracted around 200 people. 

The group of educationalists and students in the AMT has begun
working regularly with homeless children in Donetsk. It started
off in a squatted building but was evicted. Now it is working
temporarily out a mine building in Donetsk while looking for
longer-term premises. The group's activities with the children
involve social work and teaching (and, of course, providing food
and medical assistance). 

The AMT holds regular training sessions for its members on union
work, social projects and building up the organization (a group
of graduate social trainers is also involved in AMT). 

*Warning - Trotskyists!* 

An old tactic of supporters of the Fourth International,
entrism, has lost none of its currency for the heirs of Trotsky
in the Ukraine. Forming alliances with ideological enemies,
penetrating their organizations and taking them over from
within, thus also eliminating political rivals, are standard
methods from the arsenal of the British Militant Tendency and
its satellites in the countries of the former USSR. 

The Militant section in the Ukraine, KRD, employs similar
tactics with the aim of spreading its influence among workers.
KRD activists calling for the creation of a workers' party have
penetrated trade unions and left-wing organizations so as to win
over their members. In late 2002 members of the KRD branch in
the capital, Kiev, approached the RKAS in Donetsk and proposed
cooperation. The RKAS Organization Committee refused. It turns
out that the Trotskyists have also made similar propositions to
a range of other anarcho-syndicalist organizations, including
the FAU-IWA in Germany, who also turned them down. Their aim is
clear - to use the membership of anarchist groups and
organizations as a medium for spreading their own influence.
Anarchists must not yield to these fake expressions of
"comradeship". We do not and cannot befriend totalitarian
political organizations, even those on the left, even those with
revolutionary goals, even if they speak of "the liberation of
the proletariat" - we know the true intentions underneath the

*Repression against Miners in Pavlograd* 

The regional leader of the miner's union NPGU in Pavlograd, S.
Gorenko, was arrested on 16 October 2002. The official statement
said he was being charged in connection with "financial
machinations" of the Pavlograd NPGU during the parliamentary
elections in spring 2002 (in which the NPGU and Gorenko
personally participated). But the Pavlograd miners say that the
repression is really just revenge by the local authorities for
the coal-miners' strikes organized by the NPGU in the summer of
2002 demanding the payment of wage arrears. 

*Back to the Future - the 8-Hour Working Day* 

In mid-October 2002 the workers of one of the rolling mill
sections at the experimental tube factory in Dnepropetrovsk
responded to the agitation of a socialist activist by
spontaneously introducing the 8-hour day and 5-day week in their
section. This broke with the "tradition" of 12-hour shifts and
6-day weeks which had become established at the factory although
it was expressly banned under the collective agreement between
the unions and the owners. There was also no overtime bonus at
the factory. Management applied all sorts of pressure to the
workers, cutting their wages and threatening to dismiss them,
but the workers held out until late December 2002. 

A library of socialist and anarchist literature had been set up
at the factory at the beginning of October 2002. 

*Garbage at the City Council Building* 

On 30 November 2002 a protest action was held by the municipal
service workers of "Ekologia" in Dnepropetrovsk who had not been
paid for 6 months. Several dozen garbage trucks were driven up
to the City Council building, partially blocking traffic. The
workers held a rally there and threatened to repeat the protest
in a month's time if their demands had not been met. Next time
they promised to come with their trucks full and dump the
garbage right under the City Council's windows. 

*The Situation in Rural Areas of Crimea* 

In November and December 2002 the electricity authorities began
cutting off power to large sections of the population in the
mountainous rural areas of Crimea. In some cases individual
houses were cut off, in others - entire villages. The huge
number of unpaid electricity bills is due to the almost complete
collapse of economic life in most of these rural areas and most
people's lack of any income. People having their electricity cut
off led to massive protests and spurred on the self-organization
of the population. Defence groups were set up to stop
electricity-authority staff from entering the villages, and in
some places there were clashes with escorting police. To a
significant extent this resistance was carried by the Crimean
Tartars, an ethnic minority living in compact settlements and
preserving strong traditions of mutual aid ever since their
collective deportation under Stalin. 

*Metalworkers Strike* 

On 4-5 January 2003 the workers of two sections at the Dnepr
Metallurgical Complex in Dneprodzerzhinsk (near Dnepropetrovsk)
went on strike demanding payment of several months of wage
arrears from 2001. Ever since the current management took over
the works in January 2002 it has refused to pay the outstanding
wages that the old management owed the workers. About 1,500
workers participated in the strike, but it collapsed when the
leaders of the strike committee were sacked. However, it was
soon proved that these dismissals contravened labour legislation
and the six sacked workers were reinstated just two weeks later.

*Self-Managed Projects* 

Legislation and the socio-economic conditions in the Ukraine
make it very difficult for the creation of self-managed
businesses or cooperatives. But RKAS comrades in Dnepropetrovsk
have now achieved modest success in this direction. 

Service-sector workers at one of the city's large hairdressing
salons decided to organize collectively to protect their rights
against the arbitrariness of the local authorities. The local
RKAS branch gave legal aid and organizational assistance.
Self-organization has allowed the hairdressers to substantially
reduce the price of their services and introduce free haircuts
(etc.) for people on particularly low incomes. It is also
interesting to note that: 
- visitors to the self-managed hairdressers' see the
revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist posters that liberally adorn
the walls of the building; 
- the hairdressers' collective refused to hang out the Ukrainian
state flag on 1 May, as expected of them, but hung out the
anarcho-syndicalist red-and-black flag instead; 
- tax inspectors who came for a routine check of the books were
pelted with wet rags and driven off the premises. 
More details about this project in the next mailout. 

[Translated by Will Firth, FAU-IWA ]

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