Workplace Notes

Anarchist Communist Group

Posties Wildcat in Bridgwater

One hundred postal workers at Bridgwater Delivery Office walked out on unofficial strike on Thursday June 4th.

It was sparked by the return of a manager regarded as particularly aggressive. His behaviour has involved use of disciplinary action, harassment of militants and removal of bikes used by postal workers. He had already been removed twice from the Bridgwater Delivery Office because of previous disputes.

Workers then voted to stay out on strike on Friday after the manager continued with his aggressive behaviour.

Despite the ousting of Royal Mail boss, Rico Back, (see our previous article, Bye Bye Rico) and his replacement by Keith Williams, managers are still

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The Case for Building New Unions

Ideas and Action

By Tom Wetzel

The British writer R. H. Tawney once described capitalist management of the workplace as “autocracy checked by insurgency.” And, indeed, a kind of insurgency takes place when workers band together to form unions. Worker unions are a key working class organization because of the potential power workers gain from collective resistance but also because of the potential role of unions in social transformation. However, unionism in the private sector in the USA has been on a long decline — from roughly one third of workers in the early 1950s to only 6.2 percent today. To build unionism into a larger, more effective and worker controlled movement, I think we need to build new unions, independent of the bureaucratized AFL-CIO-type unions.

Two Episodes of New Unionism

History is instructive here. Unionism in USA has not grown in a gradual way but in cycles that are tied to working class insurgency. The two greatest periods of union growth came in large strike waves — in the World War 1 era and again in the early 1930s. From 1909 to 1921 union membership doubled through a vast insurgency that saw thousands of strikes every year. Nearly a million workers organized themselves into industrial unions outside the AFL. The hardest edge of the new unionism was the Industrial Workers of the World. But the IWW was just the tip of the iceberg.

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The ACG’s Rebel Education Worker issue 1 is out!

ACG

As UCU takes part in 14 days of strike action, stepping up from eight days towards the end of 2019, ACG members of UCU have published the first issue of their bulletin, to be distributed on a picket line near you!

It’s A5 double sided, so just download a copy from this page, print however many you want back to back, then chop it into two flyers.

To contact ACG Rebel Education Worker, email education@anarchistcommunism.org

DOWNLOAD Rebel Education Worker 1

Upcoming solidarity events with Russian antifascist prisoners and Kevan Thakrar

Cautiously pessimistic

Two important anti-repression events coming up in London in the near future:

On Thursday 27 February, there’s a solidarity demo with the Russian anarchist and antifascist prisoners at 6:30pm outside the Russian Embassy, 6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, W8 4QP. This event is part of the international week of action called by Crimethinc and the Rupression network.

On March 9th, Kevan Thakrar’s birthday, the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee have organised a protest at the Royal College of Psychiatrists to demand that they stop providing humanitarian cover to a system that’s held Kevan in solitary for ten years. In their words:

“Demonstrate to mark Kevan Thakrar’s 10th year in Close Supervision Centres within the British prison system. Close Supervisions Centres (CSCs) are the most extreme form of imprisonment in the UK, modelled on the ‘supermax’ prisons in the United States. People held in CSCs are often kept apart from others, allowed out of their cells for only a short time each day and denied basic human contact.

Kevan is regularly held in his cell for 23 hours per day and is prevented from speaking with other prisoners. Numerous studies and papers have pointed out the severe damage solitary confinement can cause for those placed in it. As a 2006 paper in Washington University Journal of Law & Policy put it, it has ‘long been known that severe restriction of environmental and social stimulation has a profoundly deleterious effect on mental functioning’. To quote from a paper in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, ‘psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture’.

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India: Biggest general strike in human history

Barrikade Info.

January 8, 2020 will go down in the history books as the world’s largest 24-hour general strike to date. In India, more than 250 million workers went on strike during the general strike or “Bharat Bandh”, which was joined by ten major unions as well as a number of independent associations. Associations organising bank employees, farmers and teachers, but also the student movement played a leading role. The electricity supply was also affected, with up to 1.5 million people going on strike in the power stations. The same applies to local and long-distance public transport. Across the country there were also rail blockades.

The strike had the biggest impact in the politically leftist state of Kerala, where the “communist” party CPI traditionally receives the most votes. Here, but also in many other places in India, traffic and public life were virtually at a standstill.

The strike was directed against the policy of the ruling Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP), which not only tries to split the population along ethnic and religious lines with classic nationalist policies, but also to severely restrict workers’ rights, to massively promote precarious employment and privatisation of public institutions (such as rail transport) and to provide tax breaks to large corporations.

Core demands of the unions were the creation of new jobs for the unemployed (currently 8% unemployment in India, that is 73 million people), basic workers’ rights for all workers, the increase of wages and the minimum wage, as well as a five-day week. They also called for the withdrawal of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which makes naturalisation easier for Hindu immigrants (or Jains, Sikhs) but excludes Muslims, Tamils or Tibetans. The law had already triggered massive protests across India in 2019. In addition, their demands were also directed against the biometric registration and counting of the entire Indian population, which also has special racist regulations, which are explicitly directed against Muslim citizens, for example.

More about the protests against the CAA for example here: www.anarkismo.net/article/31703

On the one hand, the right-wing BJP government tried in vain to enforce sanctions against strikers – for example, in the state of Tamil Nadu there were mass arrests of strikers; in Delhi, BJP youth organisations attacked striking students. On the other hand, the BJP publicly played down the importance of the protests.

In vain – the organized Indian workers yesterday demonstrated their enormous strength and raised the bar for the rest of the world. However, it remains to be seen whether they can sustain a prolonged confrontation with the government at this level of strength. From an anti-authoritarian point of view, the question also arises whether the strikers will allow themselves to be hitched to the cart of the parliamentary opposition parties, which ultimately only want to use the dynamics created by the mass struggles to come to power themselves – or whether the workers will succeed in taking their cause into their own hands…

The Indian anarchosydicalist organisation “Muktivadi Ekta Morcha” (Libertarian Solidarity Front) from Bhopal is rather skeptical in this respect. In a short statement it writes: “general strikes like these are for the most part electoral political facades at cost of genuine workers grievances. Most, if not all unions affiliated with “left” parties treat their workers as infants in these demonstrations controlling them more severely than they are in their workplace. There are some independent unions that are less authoritarian but hardly any genuinely democratic workers organization. We are working to change that.” – It is of course difficult for us to judge from a distance to what extent this assessment is correct, but we generally find it important to point out contradictions and limitations of social movements with the aim of overcoming them. In any case, we wish the Indian comrades a lot of success in their cause!

Either way, the success of the mobilization alone is a symbol that the organized, oppressed and wage-dependent class has the potential to unhinge the world!

RED AND BLACK TELLY: NEW YEARS MESSAGE.

And from us a very happy and successful New Year to insurrectionists, insurgents, malcontents and troublemakers around the globe!

Class struggle events listing, Nov 25-Dec 1st

Cautiously pessimistic
Another quickish listing of upcoming events for the next week. In passing, I’d just like to plug the new Spycops resource, and also to mention that the Nottingham College dispute has ended after a new deal was accepted, as has the one by non-academic staff at the University of Birmingham.

The big thing coming up soon is the eight days of strike action being taken at around 60 universities over pensions, pay and conditions by UCU members, from Monday 25th through to Wednesday 4th December. A similar ballot by Unison members working in non-academic roles returned a majority favouring strike action, but didn’t pass the 50% turnout needed. Having said that, UCU Left advise that “Successful pay ballots allow other workers who are not in UCU to participate in strikes. (It is unlawful for employers to discriminate by union membership and branches can extract statements from HR to that effect.)” So non-academic workers at affected universities are probably best off contacting their local branch to work out what to do. For anyone wanting resources, I’m not aware of a strike bulletin this time round, but the Autonomous Design Group have some nice poster designs, and the IWW and Unis Resist Border Controls have made some useful leaflets, the latter being multilingual.

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Posties Vote for Strike Action

Anarchist Communist Group

After a massive 97.1% vote for strike action by CWU postal workers , an ACG postie gives a bit of background.

What is the dispute about?

The new Chief Executive, Rico Back, has clearly decided that the way forward for Royal Mail is to have a cheaper more flexible workforce.

This Is why Royal Mail, under his leadership, has developed a strategy which is designed to marginalise the union (CWU) in order to create a cheaper more flexible employment model.

Royal Mail want to review, and possibly change, the legal guarantees which stopped Royal Mail from outsourcing, franchising, breaking up the company, creating a two-tier workforce as well as stopping Royal Mail from recruiting zero-hour contracts.

Royal Mail want to use PDAs (the machine people sign for their parcels on) to spy on workers and use it as a revision tool (changing duties, job cuts) even though they know PDAs do not truly reflect a postal worker’s duties.

Royal mail are not saying they will support the continuation of the USO (Universal Service Obligation) when Ofcom reviews it next year. This possibly means the USO being cut to a five day service, and resulting in the loss of 20,000 jobs.

(Note: USO – Universal Service Obligation – means royal mail is obliged to deliver and collect mail six days a week at any location in the UK . If the six days is cut to say five, that would mean that the 20 000 staff that cover other posties’ rest days could lose their jobs since all duties would be covered by the regulars. It would also mean a reduction in service for people since mail won’t be delivered six days.)

Bristol , 25 October 2019. Shut down BAE and MBDA. Stop arming fascism!

Join us at the gates of BAE and MBDA to demand an end to the supply of arms to the fascist Turkish State.

Golf Course Lane, Filton, BS34 7QS

BE THERE FOR 7AM! Workers arrive early and we want them to hear what we have to say.

At 4pm on October 9th, the Turkish occupation army and its Islamist allies began their long-prepared war of aggression against the liberated areas of northern Syria. Turkish military forces have carried out serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians. BAE and MBDA, with offices in Bristol, supply arms to Turkey.

In 2017, BAE agreed a £100 million deal with the Turkish Air Force to develop a new fighter jet. Theresa May signed a special export license to ease the process of selling these weapons to Turkey. In January 2018, a deal was finalised between the Turkish government and EUROSAM for a new missile programme. EUROSAM is a joint venture between MBDA Missile Systems and Thales.

More information on arms companies supplying Turkey here:

Please share this widely to get maximum involvement! See:
https://alternativebristol.com/events/stop-arming-turkey-solidarity-with-rojava/

https://network23.org/kebele2/2019/10/22/rojava-solidarity-demo-at-bae/

facebook event

Bridport 1919: conflict and tensions in a small industrial town in West Dorset

Event from: Bristol Radical History Festival 2019 (Level 1, Studio 1)

At the start of World War One Bridport was essentially a one industry town: rope and net making. The war brought opportunities to the town but also challenged paternalist employers with a revival of trade unionism and state pressure to improve low wages. With the Armistice, the sense of a collective national interest on the home front began to ebb away revealing long-standing as well as new tensions in the town. This talk explores the origins of these tensions in the war years and the range of ways in which they were expressed in the town in 1919, including soldiers’ protests and industrial strikes as well as a range of new political organisations in the town. Bridport was hardly a ‘red’ town and even with the new electorate of 1918 continued to return a Tory to Parliament as it still does. Yet the winding down of the WW1 home front revealed fracture lines which would mark the community as it struggled to build the Peace in unpredictable and challenging times.