National construction wildcat on the way as strike wave spreads

libcom

A picture showing construction workers picketing an Amazon site during a previous wildcat in June 2021.

Construction and engineering employers have begun warning their workforce against taking part in a wildcat strike over pay on Wednesday 10th August, as strike action has spread from unionised workplaces into new areas such as Amazon warehouses.

Recent weeks have seen industrial action across the UK, as official strikes called by unions such as the RMT, Unite and CWU have been joined by unofficial wildcat actions. The wave of wildcat actions started with a strike at Cranswick Continental Foods in Pilsworth, and has now spread to Amazon warehouses, with workers at sites in Tilbury, Rugeley, Coventry, Bristol, Dartford and Coalville walking off the job or staging unofficial slowdowns over pay, and reports of the action spreading to Belvedere, Hemel Hempstead and Chesterfield.

Wednesday 10th August could see an even more dramatic escalation, as rumours are spreading of a national wildcat strike among engineering and construction workers planned for that day. Nothing seems to have appeared in the national media yet, but the Teesside Gazette has warned of the disruption that could be caused by roads being blocked near site entrances, and STV has mentioned that the Grangemouth oil refinery in Falkirk is likely to see hundreds of maintenance workers walking off the job.

 

DRILL OR DROP?

More than 100 climate campaigners have taken part in a mass trespass at Aberdeen’s Torry harbour in opposition to plans by the fossil fuel industry to build on a park.

Climate protest in Aberdeen harbour, 31 July 2022. Photo: Climate Camp Scotland

The action (Sunday 31 July) was part of a five-day climate camp calling for a transition away from fossil fuels, led by workers and the local community.

The activists have argued that St Fittick’s Park is threatened by a proposed energy transition zone, promoted by the oil and gas executive, Ian Wood.

They carried banners with slogans including Hauns Affa Torry and No Future in Fossil Fuels, describing the plans as “a corporate landgrab”. The scheme would, they said, industrialise the last accessible green space in the Torry neighbourhood.

The developers behind the energy transition zone have said it would become “a focal point and catalyst for high-value manufacturing, research, development, testing and deployment”.

During the weekend’s camp, activists have urged the UK government to cancel plans for new oil and gas developments, such as Shell’s Jackdaw fields.

They also called on Aberdeenshire Council to refuse permission for a new gas fired power station at Peterhead. And they asked the Scottish government to ensure communities and workers had a greater say in how money from the Just Transition Fund was spent in the region.

Richard Caie, a spokesperson for Friends of St Fittick’s Park said:

“We are very grateful to Climate Camp Scotland for helping to highlight the very unjust way the “energy transition” is being managed in North East Scotland and for their support for our campaign to save St Fittick’s Park”.

Jessica Gaitan Johannesson, a spokesperson for Climate Camp Scotland, said:

“As an increasing number of people experience the dire reality of climate collapse, and soaring energy prices victimise the most vulnerable, we need to remember that fossil fuel companies do not work for us. The proposed Energy Transition Zone in Torry is a stark example of their priorities: to exploit communities for profit for as long as possible. We’re here in solidarity with the people of Aberdeen, making the vital connection between local and global climate justice.”

Breaking: Brockham oil production plans approved.

DRILL OR DROP?

Plans to revive oil production at a small site in the Surrey greenbelt were approved this morning.

Opponents of Angus Energy’s oil production plans at Brockham, Surrey County Council offices in Reigate, 27 April 2022. Photo: DrillOrDrop

County Councillors voted by 8 to 2 in favour of the Angus Energy scheme for its site at Brockham near Dorking.

The company was granted planning permission to produce oil from the site’s BRX4 well until 2036. It was also allowed to reperforate the section of the well in the Portland sandstone formation. But the company will have to apply for further consents to carry out the work.

Council planners had recommended approval of Angus Energy’s application, saying there was a “demonstratable need” for the scheme to address the “ongoing demand for oil”. Angus Energy had argued that oil from Brockham would reduce UK imports.

The site, which has five other wells, has produced no oil for more than three years

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We want council housing and homes for life!

Focus E15 Campaign

Another family has been moved into the hostel Brimstone House in Victoria Street in Stratford during the last eight weeks. This means that Newham Labour council and Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz still think that rooms built for single young people are adequate to house families. This has to stop! People need to be housed in decent housing. Shame on the council and those in local government who sit by and let the housing crisis in Newham escalate whilst people suffer and homes remain empty.

This family is a father, a mother and a four month old baby. There is just about space for a double bed and a sofa. Currently the father sleeps on the sofa while the mother sleeps with the baby in the bed, which is against the advice from midwives, health visitors and GPs about safe sleeping for babies. It is just not appropriate for an adult to sleep all night on a sofa.

There is little or no ventilation, the room is quickly filled with cooking smells which can be overpowering, and the toilet flush does not work properly despite repeated requests for it to be fixed, it has not been repaired. The alarm continues to go off in the building and there is drilling early in the morning. It is no wonder that these parents are distressed, tearful and unwell. There is no space and nowhere to put their belongings. It is clear that Brimstone House is no place to raise a child and the housing is not suitable.

Meanwhile, the roomy council flats around the corner on Carpenters estate remain empty and there are trees growing out of them! What a waste. We want to save every single council flat on this estate because this housing offers the chance for long term stability, community and cheap rent. A chance for a decent life.

Please join us on Saturday 18 December 12-2pm on the Carpenters Estate where over 400 home have stood empty for over a decade, where currently a ballot is underway and where the council is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to secure a yes vote to its regeneration scheme which will mean demolishing 60% of the estate.

We need more council homes, not fewer!

We need families like the one above from Brimstone House, and the thousands of others on the housing waiting list and those in temporary and emergency accommodation, to be housed decently.

Join us on Saturday 18 December at 12 noon in the middle of Carpenters Estate in Stratford (near the shop) to fight for housing, to make a stand against capitalism, against racism in housing and to restore people’s dignity.

Please share and join the facebook event

Direct Action: the education of revolutionaries.

Chapter Thirty-One of The Authority of the Boot-Maker by Mal Content.

“Anarchism is neither sectarian nor dogmatic. It’s theory in action. It doesn’t have a pre-determined worldview. It’s a fact that anarchism is manifest historically in all of man’s attitudes, individually or collectively. It’s a force in the march of history itself: the force that pushes it forward.”

– Nestor Makhno: to Francisco Ascaso and Buenaventura Durruti, Paris, 1927.

This, my friends, is where the cop-out ends, once you’ve accepted that there is no one above or below you, you become responsible for everything that happens within your sphere of influence. Who gives governments the power to abuse, torture and kill? It is you. The prison I referred to earlier exists only in the mind, in the collective consciousness, the defeatist attitude that: “nothing can be done”. In fact everything can be done and already is, in this world we built with our hands, eyes and brains. Everything you require to live is provided by your fellow workers, as you provide for them. The intervention of bosses, accountants, academics and politicians only serves to make the process less efficient and pleasant to operate. If we allow these intermediaries to manage our desires they will stifle and kill them. Despite not being noticeably more competent or wise than anyone else they have been elevated above their fellows and it isn’t in their interests to upset the applecart. They will patiently explain why we can’t have what we want, just yet.

“Our people stand for action on the march. It is while going forward that we overtake. Don’t hold them back, even to teach them `the most beautiful theories’ …”

– Francisco Ascaso, quoted by Paz and others.

Direct action is that which seeks its ends without the mediation of a third party; it does not necessarily involve protest, and where it does, is not limited to protesting. Breaking up a fight is direct action, calling the police is not. It can be anything from distributing free food to the needy or recycling old clothes, to strikes, sabotage and factory occupations. This principle demands that those who have most invested in a struggle should direct it, whilst relying on solidarity from others, so priority should be given to projects and organisational forms which give confidence to those who are marginalised or unused to taking action.

Q. How many Anarchists does it take to change a light bulb?

A. None – “The light bulb must change itself!”

– Anon.

Direct action is most popularly associated with the practice of revolutionary syndicalism or industrial unionism, which gained currency at the turn of the last century but lost out to Bolshevism; however the abject failure of political and industrial representation has revived its popularity in this one.

The importance of direct action goes far beyond its immediate goals; it ingrains the habit of taking responsibility, of working with others in a voluntary and horizontal fashion for reasons other than personal reward. It builds confidence and trust, shares skills and teaches by example. A solidarity action that at first glance seems to have only a minor impact, in fact operates on several fronts. It gives satisfaction to the participants, courage to fellow workers who hitherto felt powerless, and issues a warning to the exploiters that their acts have consequences. It helps repair the social cohesion and sense of community that capitalism tries so hard to abolish. Above all every comrade must feel valued and supported, every blow must be returned, until over time a culture of militant solidarity is established, only then can we act coherently in our common interest, and prise power from the exploiter’s grip.

There are many traps into which revolutionaries can fall; relying on the limited vision and experiences of a few people for example, or on the other hand diluting the movement with those who have too much invested in the status quo; falling back on dogma, or abandoning essential principles. It’s a mistake to assume that every oppressed person is ready and able to shake off their oppression, and equally erroneous to wait until conditions are perfect. To transform society we must transform ourselves, we can do it along the way but we have to start now. Lines must be walked between making real improvements to the lives of people in the here and now, and giving in to reformism, we want the earth, but we’ll take it a piece at a time.

“This task of laying the groundwork for the future is, thanks to Direct Action, in no way at odds with the day to day struggle. The tactical superiority of Direct Action rests precisely on its unparalleled plasticity: organisations actively engaged in the practice are not required to confine themselves to beatific waiting for the advent of social changes. They live in the present with all possible combativity, sacrificing neither the present to the future, nor the future to the present. It follows from this, from this capacity for facing up simultaneously to the demands of the moment and those of the future and from this compatibility in the two-pronged task to be carried forward, that the ideal for which they strive, far from being overshadowed or neglected, is thereby clarified, defined and made more discernible.

Which is why it is both inane and false to describe revolutionaries drawing their inspiration from Direct Action methods as “advocates of all-or nothing”. True, they are advocates of wresting EVERYTHING from the bourgeoisie! But, until such time as they will have amassed sufficient strength to carry through this task of general expropriation, they do not rest upon their laurels and miss no chance to win partial improvements which, being achieved at some cost to capitalist privileges, represent a sort of partial expropriation and pave the way to more comprehensive demands.

From which it is plain that Direct Action is the plain and simple fleshing- out of the spirit of revolt: it fleshes out the class struggle, shifting it from the realm of theory and abstraction into the realm of practice and accomplishment. As a result, Direct Action is the class struggle lived on a daily basis, an ongoing attack upon capitalism.”

– Emile Pouget: ‘Direct Action’.

Colombia: Social movement organizing against neoliberal policies

Voices in Movement


Orginally published by Noticias de Abajo on May 4, 2021, translated by Shantal Montserrat Lopez Victoria.

In Colombia, Indigenous Minga along with unions, students, peasants and environmental organizations, are calling for a historic strike against the National Development Plan of the ultra-right-wing president Ivan Duque, which proposes a rollback of social rights.

Since April 28th, several cities and states in Colombia have been flooded by tens of thousands of protesters who are demanding the reversal of measures that go against the welfare of Colombian society. Among these measures are economic programs that propose the privatization of health and education, a lack of peace agreements as well as rollbacks for labor rights.

Thousands of protesters were met with repression and brutality by State forces and as a result there are cases involving people losing eyesight, physical and sexual violence, and protestors being killed. According to the Temblores Human Rights platform, figures are as follows: 13 murders inflicted by police, 68 physical attacks, 655 arbitrary detentions, 4 cases of sexual violence, not including unregistered events by human rights organizations who have also been stripped of their rights and harassed while documentation cases.

In an attempt to stop the marches and “contain these terrorists”, as Senator Alvaro Uribe refers to the demonstrators, the government began to deploy military troops and tanks in cities such as Cali and Bogota, contrary to the local governments’ decision to not use force. This confirms the fascist and dictatorial nature of the government which the corporate media does not accept.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – MAY 01: Protesters are seen during the national strike against the tax reform as they gather on the International Workers’ Day on May 01, 2021, Bogota, Colombia, 2021. Unions joined to call a national strike and demonstrations in major cities, urging participants to follow COVID-19 protocols as the heavy protest continues in the biggest cities of the country in Cali, Medellin, and Bogota. (Photo by Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Despite the militarization of the country, protesters continue fighting to make the government of Ivan Duque respond to the serious human rights violations. Thus, the Indigenous Minga, transportation and freight companies and other organizations are calling to maintain the national strike until we see measures that will benefit society.

Protesters achieved their main objective of withdrawing the tax reform, but the harsh economic crisis that the country is going through due to poor government management and the rejection of social welfare policies has made it imperative to change the course of Ivan Duque’s economic project in his National Development Plan. This initiative that has hit the most impoverished social sectors the hardest while favoring private entities close to the government.

If the people are demonstrating it is because “The government is more dangerous than the virus” yet the government continues with fascist proposals that are plundering the earth. The aristocratic government is trying to dispose of environmentalists, workers and students in a national project but no economic policy can be built on the suffering of the people.

The fall of the ultra-right government is imminent. Now, the only remaining question is if it will be through resignation or elections?

Blacklisted worker barred from SpyCops Inquiry

Union News

Dave Smith, the secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, has been barred from appearing at the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Smith was scheduled to make the opening statement on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group at 4.15pm today, but late last night was told not to attend, following a legal challenge regarding issues raised in his the opening statement.

A meeting before the chair, Sir John Mitting, has been arranged for Monday morning.

union-news.co.uk understands Dave Smith was planning to accuse undercover police officers of inciting arson and colluding with multinational construction firms to blacklist union members. He co-authored a book, Blacklisted, that detailed his experiences of being unlawfully denied work because of his trade union activity.

Blacklisted worker Dan Gillman has written about his hopes for the Mitting Inquiry here and Donna McClean has written about her experience about being tricked into a relationship with a spycop here.

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Formby Hall sacks worker for raising concerns over health and safety

Liverpool Solidarity Federation 

Two weeks ago we were contacted by a former employee of Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa, a hotel and leisure complex located in North Sefton, Merseyside. The worker had been summarily dismissed after nine months’ service. The business did not give them any grounds for dismissal nor subject them to any disciplinary process.

The former employee was dismissed after raising questions about a post-lockdown health and safety document which was found to contain outright falsehoods.

We have supported the worker in seeking compensation for wrongful dismissal. The business is aware of these demands and has formally acknowledged them. As the business has had ample time to rectify this grievance, we have today decided to make it, and our involvement, public.

Liverpool Solfed understands that sacking on flimsy pretexts, disregard for health and safety, loose adherence to employment laws, and contempt for workers’ basic rights are endemic in the UK’s service industry. We predict that these conditions will worsen post lockdown. We move forward with the understanding that they are not to be tolerated.

Liverpool Solfed will support workers even in unorganised workplaces and will support any workers who wish to organise. Fight back against low pay, dangerous work, and workplace abuse!

Corona comment number five, from the South of England: Snake oil and tinfoil, by Mal Content.

Clockwise from left: Buttar supports Trump, Buttar supports the military, Icke talks crap about BLM, Kate Shemirani on ‘sons of liberty’, Sherri Tenpenny and Alex Jones, Senator Jensen on ‘Go Right’ a ‘gays for trump’ channel.

The corona virus has thrown the ruling class into disarray. Their sales pitch, that their institutional and economic hegemony is capable of managing the infrastructure to the benefit of all, fell at the first hurdle, as the economy was effectively pitted against itself.

Meanwhile yet another fault line has opened in the anarchist movement, and what for the sake of argument we can call the libertarian left (social democrats and Bolsheviks need not apply). Part of it has embraced Benthamism, sacrificing individual judgement to someone else’s (invariably the ruling class’) statistical aggregate of the greater good. Some find finger-pointing and curtain-twitching a worthwhile use of their time. In promoting his Panopticon prison design, Bentham commented: “As the watchmen cannot be seen, they need not be on duty at all times, effectively leaving the watching to the watched.” In fact that principle has informed all more-or-less totalitarian states ever since. As a utilitarian, materialist, libertarian socialist I reject Bentham’s definition of utility and there are many well-known thought experiments that reduce it to the absurd.

At the other end of the scale ‘professional contrarians’ come across like petulant teenagers answering back to their dads. People who’ve spent years masked up for nefarious purposes will demonstrate without them now they are officially sanctioned – of all the things they could protest about! How hard we tried to get the ‘peaceful protesters’ to hide their faces as cover for the ones prepared to kick off. We dreamed of a world where face coverings were worn as a matter of course and we could blend into the mass.

I’ve already given my opinion that masks are a placebo. Can you smell smoke through your mask, even outside from six feet away? Ever smoked a chillum through a rag? The largest smoke particles are like boulders compared with corona viruses, the smallest are comparable and both are within the colloidal range, in other words they are capable of being indefinitely suspended in air by Brownian motion. So do it or don’t do it as you please, and if a fellow worker hands me a book and asks me to write down a name and address it’s no hardship. It won’t be mine of course and I suspect they know that. I don’t ever recall debating with a copper my right to use marijuana, I’d just say I didn’t have any and hoped I’d hidden it well enough.

We’ve had a lot of fun ridiculing the floundering politicians’ arbitrary “guidance” and the middle-class dupes who rationalise it. We caution against taking anything on trust in an untrustworthy world, but some anti-authoritarians have chosen to rub shoulders with even less trustworthy and more authoritarian tendencies. We have taken issue with our long-standing comrades at The Acorn/Winter Oak over their promotion of a rally by stand up x, a motley collection of flat-earthers who postulate as always a liberal elite – led by George Soros no doubt, denying them their right to live in the fourteenth century. On the net you’re only ever three clicks from David Icke, except the stand up x facebook page, then it’s one click, and they’ve booked him for the 29th August. It’s all there, guy Fawkes masks, butchers’ aprons, fox news, NWO, secret paedophile rings. The anti-malaria drug being pushed by Bolsonaro is manufactured by the Brazilian military for obvious reasons, it wouldn’t surprise me if Derek Guff had his finger in that particular pie also.

What is their protest intended to achieve; business as usual or just business? Protest always smacks of supplication and this was never more likely to fall on deaf ears, if you want to “stand up to the system” withdraw your labour, occupy the means of production or expropriate property.

On the platform:

  • Dolores Cahill, Irish freedom party – big on law and order, except hate crime which is just free speech.
  • Dr Zac Cox, a ‘homeopathic dentist’.
  • Dr Adil, who claims SARS CoV2 isn’t a virus at all.
  • Dr Eric Nepute, purveyor of vitamin products who does think it’s a virus, and has been warned off by the Federal Trade Commission for selling quack cures for it, uses words like “bazillion” on his website – clever bloke.
  • Dr Scott Jensen, Republican senator for Minnesota, who features on breitbart and ‘Go Right’, a Bush Fellow and god-botherer.
  • Dr Mikael Norway – sorry, no idea who they are.
  • Dr Sherry Tenpenny, another quack, author of ‘Saying no to Vaccines.’
  • Kate Shemirani, who sells mistletoe injections for cancer and expensive “beauty products”, appears on the ‘sons of liberty’: “Re-shaping America by redirecting future generations to our Judeo Christian heritage through education and media.”
  • Dr Andrew Kaufmann, whose website has a massive disclaimer that it doesn’t offer any medical advice, though he will give you a consultation for a fee.
  • Dr Kevin Corbett, an artist with a PhD in social sciences.
  • Rashid Buttar, a struck-off doctor, conspiracy theorist, anti-vaccine proponent, and youtuber. He has twice been reprimanded by the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners for unprofessional conduct and cited by the FDA for illegal marketing of unapproved and adulterated drugs. He variously claims 5g and chemtrails cause Covid, or that it is a biological weapon of the Chinese state.
  • Piers Corbyn, climate change denier and general-purpose nutcase.

You wouldn’t want to be seen with these wankers, unless you’re stood on the Minnesota senator’s neck.

The anarchist response to pandemic is the same as to any other situation. Do as much research as you feel necessary, apply your judgement and experience, consult whoever you trust then make up your mind and do as you see fit. Whether to visit your grandmother on her deathbed is a personal decision to be taken on its merits. You may find yourself balancing actual harm with hypothetical harm and wish to weight those two factors differently. I won’t be lectured on “protecting the NHS” by those who have spent forty years trying to abolish it, or the ones who sat back on their arses while we were picketing things and getting arrested. Petitions don’t count.

The NHS for all its benefits is a capitalist employer and an arm of the corporate state. The people who run it do so not for the benefit of its workers or patients but for their investors and for “UK-PLC” which requires that at least some of us are fit to augment their capital. Science is not to be used as propaganda; it is simply an enquiry into the nature of things informed by empiricism and logic. Faulty logic and badly designed experiments will give you duff gen. Disagreement is to be welcomed and should help us see the wood for the trees, there are no sides to this, if you like to stand in lines shouting at each other, crack on, it does nothing for me.

Morality must be balanced with utility, like strategy and tactics neither is any use on its own. We can all do that without getting into bed with the lunatic fringe of the American religious right. Any movement devoid of class analysis is worthless to us. We recall the awful mess Occupy got into with ‘freemen on the land’ and all that bollocks about the Magna Carta. There are people out there who believe fluoridation makes you gay, vaccination is a conspiracy to stupefy us, and 5g is about mind control. They would sell you bogus medicines for cancer or tell you to pray it away. Unlike the kind of street fascist who really does benefit from a Totector in the face, our best weapon against these cranks is ridicule, but we’ll make an exception for Senator Jensen.

Workers are every day having to decide between unsafe environments and starvation or homelessness. These are not decisions toff politicians ever have to make, nor will they help you do so. The latest tory decree on “shielding” has just given the bosses an excuse to shed workers with chronic health conditions that were protected characteristics under EA10. I’m reminded of the story of the potato farmer who lived by Chernobyl. When the evacuees started to return they found the old man had never left. The potatoes that came up the first year after the fire looked a bit odd, he admitted, but you could eat them. A man had come from the government, “don’t you know those potatoes can kill you?” “Not as fast as no potatoes!” was the response.

Why are we still having these silly arguments? Partly because we are not deeply enough rooted in the class, we are peripheral to it. Before the politicians even took an interest in corona the anarchist movement stopped what it was doing to organise community support and mutual aid, but it lacked the clout to shut down the economy; that requires mass direct action. We have become reactive, so many of our Class are hostages to the market that we have shifted our focus from dismantling the hateful death machine to mitigating its effects on the most vulnerable. A look at our history will reveal that it is often the most vulnerable who stop the wheels. To put it crudely, if you’ve got a rock and one good arm you can throw it, better do that than lament the shortage of rocks. Don’t allow your perceived privileges to immobilise you!

If you can’t think for yourself who’s going to do it for you? Not the bungling fraudsters in Westminster, who obtained their jobs under false pretences. Not their politically-appointed experts, who like David Knutt will get fired for publishing science that contradicts their policy. Not internet con-artists who make a living flogging crap. Not flag-waving, god-bothering numbskulls. Not tinfoil-hatted keyboard worriers. The Working Class must decide what is good for it and that requires us to collectivise each issue, the bigger it is, the more collective our response must be.

We’re just going to have to sort this one out ourselves.

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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