repression

A letter to UK Uncutters from the 'violent minority'

We're writing this to you to try and prevent the anti-cuts struggle being split up and weakened by the media.

We are anarchists (well, anarcho-syndicalists, technically) – a word that is much misunderstood and misrepresented. We are also students, workers and shop stewards. We co-organised a 'Radical Workers Bloc' on the South London feeder march. The aim was to provide a highly visible radical presence within the workers movement of which we are a part, advocating strikes, occupations and civil disobedience.

Serbia: Repression against ASI continues!

We are informing the public that the State of Serbia is continuing with its repression against our organization. This time in the form of police investigation of ASI General Secretary, Milan Stojanovic, under suspicion of committing a crime of “Motor vehicle theft with burglary, break-in and threat” for which the possible sentence is up to five years imprisonment.  

Namely, in year 2006 Milan was a witness in an investigation held because of the same crime and which was dismissed soon after. Now, five years later, the prosecution has dug up this case, and Milan has mystically changed his role from a witness to accused. To make things even more absurd, Milan cannot drive, actually he has never even started a vehicle. 

This is only a last (for the time being) in a row of framed judicial processes against members of Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative. 

Have your say: The Shape of Things to Come

Dear DA,

The EU is currently developing a new 5 year strategy for justice and home affairs and security policy for 2009-2014. The proposals set out by the shadowy “Future Group” set up by the Council of the European Union include a range of highly controversial measures including new technologies of surveillance, enhanced cooperation with the United States and harnessing the “digital tsunami”. In the words of the EU Council presidency:

Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts.

Colombia: Repression Continues

The Colombian state’s policy of murdering trade unionists, indigenous people and social movement activists continues unabated in 2009. In London, the Colombian embassy sees frequent pickets protesting against these abuses. The photograph here shows a picket on October 23rd last year, which was specifically in solidarity with sugar cane cutters, striking public sector unions and the indigenous Minga people. The organisers, Polo Democrático UK and Colombia Solidarity Campaign, were joined by the Solidarity Federation / IWA, the Latin American Workers Association and Hands Off Venezuela. The sugar cane cutters have since won a major victory in December bringing pay increases and improvements in terms and conditions – further info: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/ view/1625/

Review - The Federación Uruguaya Anarquista: Crisis, armed struggle & dictatorship, 1967-85 (by Paul Sharkey)

This overview of the main Uruguayan anarchist movement takes the form of various articles by and interviews with militants. It may be initially daunting for anyone not familiar with the subject, as the pieces which give a basic overview of the history only appear in the middle and at the end of the pamphlet. However, it is worth persevering as the story of the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU) is instructive.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap - Immigrant cleaners: the “hard-to-organise” are self-organising

Workers in contract cleaning face low wages, a lack of basic employment rights, bullying management and victimisation for union activities. However, especially among Latin Americans, self-organisation has sustained struggles against the un-scrupulous multinational companies who employ them, and against the immigration controls which are used to sack un-wanted workers and victimise union acti-vists. Those struggles highlight the inadequacy of the “organising model” of trades unionism promoted by the likes of Unite!

Victory at Linamar

Rob Williams, Unite! convenor at Linamar’s Swansea plant, was reinstated on 11th June. An official indefinite strike was due to begin that day after a ballot resulting in 139 votes for and 19 against on an 88% turnout. Rob had been suspended on 28th April by car-part manufacturer Linamar, which had bought the former Visteon plant in July 2008, claiming an “irretrievable breakdown of trust”. This was met by an immediate walkout by the day shift; Rob locked himself in his office and workers surrounded it in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent his removal from the plant by the police. He was called in and sacked on 7th May.

This was clearly an attempt to break the union and force through attacks on pay, conditions and pensions by “buying down” – offering workers worse contracts in return for a one-off payment. The sacking immediately followed 140 voluntary redundancies and preceded pay negotiations where management were trying to get workers to turn down a Ford-linked 5.25% pay rise. Rob had also been prominent in organising support for the Ford Visteon workers who had occupied factories in Belfast and Enfield and were blockading Basildon.

This resistance doubtless both helped the Visteon workers win a partial victory in their occupation and galvanised Unite! which organised a ballot in record time, the result being announced on 28th May, to head off unofficial action. The fear of militancy in the car industry spreading would have been at forefront of both Linamar and Ford management’s and the Unite! bureaucracy’s thinking. It shows that rank and file militancy, direct action and solidarity work.

Sweep ISS out of SOAS

On June 12th, cleaners working for ISS at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London were called to a meeting by management. The cleaners were “processed” by immigration officials who detained nine of them as “illegal immigrants”. It was perhaps no coincidence that a picket of SOAS’ governing body demanding the reinstatement of victimised SOAS UNISON Branch Chair José Stalin Bermudez, who had been prominent in organising cleaners, had been called for that morning.

Those detained were denied union representation, but a campaign was quickly organised by SOAS campus unions and students, migrant worker activists and anti-deportation campaigners. SOAS management was held responsible for ISS “ambushing” their cleaners as punishment for winning union recognition and the London Living Wage.

Berlin: ban of FAU grassroots union overturned

News from our comrades in Berlin, who had been dragged into the courts by the bosses of the Cinema Babylon.

About 50 people gathered in the biggest hall of Berlin’s Higher Court on the morning of June 10th. They were waiting for the decision on the FAU Berlin’s appeal on whether they could call themselves a union. Only 15 minutes into the trial, the judge delivered the verdict. The injunction is overturned; the ban is repealed; the crowd goes wild.