Pakistan floods: anarchist global relief effort of the WSF-IWA

AWSM

https://i1.wp.com/awsm.nz/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/pakistan.jpeg?

The Workers Solidarity Federation, Pakistan section of the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers’ Association (IWA), are currently engaged in relief efforts to communities affected by the extraordinary floods caused by climate change.

Throughout 2022, Pakistan experienced an unusually intense heat-wave, with temperatures exceeding 50 degree celsius by May. With over 7,000 glaciers, Pakistan’s glacier count is only outnumbered by the polar regions1 , and the high temperatures, that affected much of South Asia, caused glacial melt, which in turn triggered the failure of ice dams and outburst floods. Water from these outburst flood travelled along tributaries and flowed into the main rivers, including the Indus River, Pakistan’s largest, causing their banks to break. The end result are the flash floods in Pakistan, exacerbated by the record monsoon rains that began in June. The events in Pakistan can be added to the list of spectacular instances of capitalism-induced climate breakdown.

The floods in Pakistan have so far affected two-thirds of Pakistan’s districts, destroyed two million acres of farmland, caused over 1500 deaths, and led to the displacement of 33 million people,2 with Unicef suggesting 16 million children affected so far. 3 All reasonable estimates indicate that millions in Pakistan now face the prospect of malnutrition and infections, particularly those caused by water-borne diseases.

In response to this, on 23rd August, members of the Workers Solidarity Federation, founded in May 2020 as the Pakistan section of the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers’ Association (IWA) established an emergency fund for disaster relief and began distributing food in flood-affected areas.4 In the course of the floods, some of their members involved in distributing aid in Balochistan became homeless5 , despite this they continued to distribute over 200 meals to families in the region.6 Since then, their relief efforts, supported by anarchists from around the world, have provided direct disaster relief to thousands of people affected by the ongoing floods in Balochistan and Sindh, in an extraordinary tale of mutual aid and transnational solidarity. On 4th September, WSF established a Flood Relief camp in Karachi.7 , distributing goods and cash to those in need.8 On 10th September, in Balochistan, WSF provided tents to people displaced by the floods. On 13th September, WSF members distributed food to people in the Dadu district of Sindh, travelling by boat across the flooded area9 , providing food supplies to 105 families10 . On 18th September, in Balochistan, WSF distributed food rations tents, mosquito nets, and infant care to the effected people in coming days.11 . On 25th September, WSF installed water tanks to provide clean water and distributed food.12 As at the time of writing, their relief efforts continue.

In the wake of any major disaster, where state and capital are absent, and a community is left to fend for itself, people self-organise on the basis of a need to survive. The self-organisation of disaster communities, to an extent, embodies anarchist principles of decentralised organisation, socialisation of resources, mutual aid, and co-operation. These principles come to the fore amidst disasters because they are taken as the most expedient option for maximising people’s chances of survival, but they are also measures that contradict the logic of capital and the state, which sooner or later will reclaim the lost territory, unless it is prevented from doing so by a large, armed, anarchist body.

The activities of the WSF-IWA are some of the most significant and heroic examples of anarchist praxis to date, and are particularly extraordinary considering that the WSF is only two years’ old.

To support the relief effort of the WSF, donate here: https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8NfSnN0RXl  13

https://libcom.org/article/pakistan-floods-anarchist-global-relief-effort-wsf-iwa

IWA History Conference, 1st – 2nd October, 28 Pułku Strzelców, Łódź, Poland

Updated Schedule Information:
Times: Saturday Oct. 1 – Sunday Oct. 2 11AM – 16:30PM UTC+2 (Central Europe) Transmission Live on You Tube, Recording Will be Available After
Times for some other countries:
10AM – 15:30 UTC + 1 (UK, Ireland)
12:00 – 17:30 UTC+3 (Western Russia, Ukraine)
14:00 – 19:30 UTC+5 (Pakistan, Parts of India and Russia)
16:00 – 21:30 UTC+7 (Indonesia)
17:00 – 22:30 UTC + 8 (Western Australia)
19:00 – 00:30 UTC+10 (Eastern Australia)
6:00 – 11:30 UTC-3 (Chile, Brazil, Argentina)
5:00 – 10:30 UTC-4 (Eastern US)
4:00 – 9:30 UTC-5 (Mexico, Peru)
Schedule October 1
10:30 – Welcome. Introduction
11:00 Towards Anarchosyndicalist Principles: the Genesis and Founding Congress of the IWA, December 25, 1922- January 2 1923 – Piotr Nowak, ZSP
12:00 The Development of the IWA – Laure Akai, ZSP. A history of the impact of repression and war, of divisive issues in the International and attempts to revive international anarchosyndicalism over the last 50 years.
13:30 Break
14:00 The Development of Anarchosyndicalism in the Balkans – Ratibor Trivunac, ASI
15:00 The History of Anarchosyndicalism in Austria – WAS
Oct. 2
Sessions with Online Presentations:
11:00 Approaches to Technological Progress and Industrialism in the IWA in the 1920s-1930s – Vadim Damier, KRAS (Russian with English Translation)
12:30 Russian Anarcho-Syndicaliism and the IWA, 1920-1930s – Dmitry Rublev, KRAS (Russian with English Translation)
14:00 Break
15:00 100 years of the IWA in Latin America. A revolutionary syndicalism with an ideological definition and finalist proposal. – Pedro Peumo, Solidaridad Obrera, Chile (Spanish with English Translation)

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.

 

Flickers of a Resurgent Labor Movement: Our Report from Labor Notes ’22

Black Rose / Rosa Negra

By Black Rose / Rosa Negra Labor Committee

Over the weekend of June 17-19, some 4,000 union members and affiliates congregated in Chicago for the 2022 Labor Notes Conference. Owing both to the fact that the biennial conference had been postponed in 2020 and to a modest (but nonetheless exciting) uptick in new union activity in recent months, most notably at Amazon and Starbucks, this year’s event set a new record for attendance.

Labor Notes began its life in 1979 as a monthly newsletter intending to challenge the sedate business and service models of AFL-CIO affiliated unions. The newsletter focused on spotlighting and linking together rank-and-file reform caucuses within these unions. Today, Labor Notes the periodical lives on, while Labor Notes the organization has dramatically expanded in scope to support year round “troublemaker” training schools and a publishing wing, in addition to its growing conference.

Labor Notes the organization acts on the social-political, or intermediate level, within the US (and Canadian)

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Joint Statement: International brands must act urgently and cease all production in Myanmar

Received via Global Women’s Strike and English Collective of Prostitutes.

Joint Statement

International brands must act urgently and cease all production in Myanmar to weaken the military dictatorship and force them to step down

On February 1st 2021, the military in Myanmar carried out a coup and arrested the elected government members and seized power as the State Administrative Council (SAC). On February 5th, when a general strike and street protest known as the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) began, women garment workers were on the frontlines. Some 3,000 women workers came by bus from their factories in the industrial zones to join the protests in Yangon.i Garment workers remain central to the CDM. Millions of people have taken to the streets, risking their lives and their livelihoods, to demand an end to dictatorship and in support of democracy for Myanmar.

Thousands of garment workers (90% women) have been on strike for months. The army and police have responded to the peaceful protests with deadly force, including shooting live rounds into the crowds. Over 1300 people have been killed by the military and police in the past ten months, More than 1,750 have been detained, and raped and tortured in other ways while in custody. Women trade union leaders and workers from the garment industry are among those killed and arrested.ii iii In order to repress the workers’ opposition, military personnel have been deployed at factory gates, and martial law has been imposed in the industrial zones so that protesters are judged by a military tribunal under military law, risking years in prison.

Before 2010 many Western brands were unwilling to operate in Myanmar because they didn’t want to be associated with the draconian working conditions and other atrocities taking place under military rule. Along with 19 other brands, H&M, Primark, Tesco and New Look have signed an industry agreementiv – known as Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) – that commits to ensuring the local factories producing their goods uphold workers’ rights to a living wage, collective bargaining, safety and other guidelines for termination and compensation. ACT has ended operations in Myanmar, but many brands that have signed the agreement, like H&M and Lidl, are still sourcing from Myanmar. This is unacceptable. Now that military rule has returned, the same ruthless conditions are recurring and worker’s rights cannot be ensured – why are brands not pulling out?

Reportedly factory owners and employers are taking advantage of the coup to undermine worker’s rights. Many permanent workers have been sacked and replaced with temporary workers on a daily wage. Employers are also known to be working in collaboration with the army to destroy the trade union movement by informing on trade union activists, providing soldiers with names of trade union members they find problematic or who oppose the military coup and having them arrested. Most trade union organizers are now in hiding, yet still active in the movement.

Despite wages for garment workers in Myanmar being among the lowest in the world, multinational corporations are a significant source of income for the military junta. The cut-make-pack (CMP) garment sector exports for the fiscal year 2020/21 were reported to value US$3.24 billion. The garment industry in Myanmar constitutes US$6bn of annual exports (approx. 30% of all exports).vi Many factories sit on land owned by the military with rent from the factories funding them. In addition to exploiting workers to fund the coup, the military is also widely reported to be exploiting natural resources to further finance their crimes. The destruction of people and destruction of the natural resources go hand in hand.

On September 3, 2021, two of the largest trade unions in Myanmar, the All Burma Federation of Trade Unions (ABFTU) and the Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) put out a joint statement condemning the actions of the employers and calling on Western brands to stop sourcing their products from Myanmar suppliers.vii Garment workers organised in the Industrial Worker’s Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) as part of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar are calling for comprehensive economic sanctions.viii

“Together with the Myanmar Labour Alliance, a coalition of 185 organisations including trade unions and students, teachers, health workers, engineers’ networks, strike committees, and youth, women and LGBT networks are calling for comprehensive economic sanctions to remove the military regime and restore democracy, human rights, and workers’ rights in Myanmar as quickly as possible. The brands and their lobbyists must stop insisting that they can stay in the country under these conditions. By staying in the country, they objectively defend and legitimize a terrorist regime.”

Khaing Zar Aung: President of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM), an executive committee member of the Confederation of Trade Union Myanmar (CTUM), and a member of the Myanmar Labour Alliance.

Given that over two-thirds of Myanmar’s garment exports are for the UK/EU and US markets,ix we have an opportunity and an obligation to act in solidarity with the garment workers and all those opposing the coup and the military’s crimes in Myanmar.

We, the undersigned, join the trade unions of Myanmar in their call for international brands and retailers to urgently take action:

1.Withdraw from Myanmar to put pressure on the military dictatorship to step down.

2. When withdrawing, consult with Myanmar garment unions for an exit plan to ensure transparency and due compensation to the workers, and contribute humanitarian aid to the workers and people of Myanmar.

3. Publicly join the international condemnation of the military coup in Myanmar and call for democracy to be restored. Actively support the Civil Disobedience Movement, trade unions and the National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (NUG) in their efforts to stop this brutal military dictatorship.

Issued by Global Women’s Strike and No Sweat

Signed by…

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

Comment on the question of ‘revolutionary minority’

AngryWorkers

Another fragment in AngryWorkers’ process of soul searching. If you want to read up on other texts we have written, check out this recent one on ‘What does it take to be organised politically?’ or this biographical rumination on ‘How not to be organised’.

When we first posted the article on the Revolutionary minority, I had a problem with it but didn’t say anything. I am very aware that we all have a lot of baggage and there is nothing more boring and annoying than old lefties fighting old battles. But the question of ‘the left’ or ‘the revolutionaries’ is clearly important to some of us and it keeps cropping up so now I have to say what worries me about it.

First of all we have published a few articles which state that we don’t think there is a kind of spectrum of the ‘left’ with us at one end and the Corbynites, say, at the other. Most of us agree that there is a clear gulf between us and most of the ‘left’.

But the term ‘revolutionary minority’ to describe us bothers me. In one sense who can disagree – we’re revolutionaries and there aren’t many of us compared to the ‘left’, so what’s the problem?

Well wouldn’t most people in most of the left groups think of themselves as the ‘revolutionary minority’, even if they don’t actually use those words? So its a totally subjective label and it doesn’t help to clarify why we are different. That differentiation has to be done by concretely showing the differences of outlook and practice – ie why we think the notion of the vanguard party leads to people seeing the working class as the passive subject of their work and not the real revolutionary force in society, etc etc. What we think distinguishes us has to be spelt out and not asserted by labels.

But more problematic for me is that this label, ‘revolutionary minority’, can potentially make worse an existing problem – that people who have read revolutionary books, who regard themselves as ‘revolutionaries’ make the mistake of thinking they are the moving force in revolution. This is what I was trying to write about in the piece I did for the November meeting – the ‘revolutionary’ preacher syndrome or the ‘revolutionary’ propagandist.

So strong is this attitude that I think everything has to be done to fight it and I’m worried that if we bestow upon ourselves this label then it can tend to make fuzzy the reality that the only revolutionary force is the working class in its self organised efforts to transform the mode of production.

You see, I think it’s a fair question to ask is Angry Workers a revolutionary organisation? Well in one sense obviously yes but in another sense the answer is ‘It remains to be seen’, i.e. the test is in practice. Can the group find ways to play a useful part in the rebuilding of working class revolutionary organisation? It’s not enough to have ‘good ideas’ and great aspirations. Can people turn those into activities that lead to the development of the class. The first thing by no means automatically leads to the second.

So by all means show by concrete examples where our outlook and practice lies on the other side of a deep divide from both the reformists and the vanguardists, etc. etc., but be very careful of doing/ saying anything that might tend to confuse the relationship between us, the people with revolutionary outlooks, and the class who has the potential revolutionary power to change the world.

We’re hiring! Seeking trainee anti-capitalist researcher

Corporate Watch

Corporate Watch is looking for a trainee anti-capitalist researcher – help us spread the word!

Note: As part of our commitment to fighting structural inequalities, we actively encourage applications from people of colour and Black applicants. We also welcome applications from working-class people, (ex-)prisoners and those with criminal records. We do not require formal qualifications or a university degree.

Corporate Watch is looking for a trainee researcher. We’re looking for someone to join us as we investigate companies and capitalism, expose where power lies, and find information to help fight the corporations and others who are wrecking our world.

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Privilege (for the benefit of the privileged), identity and the Class War. By Mal Content.

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone.

… From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”

– Aldous Huxley: ‘The Doors of Perception’.

This was always going to be a personal account, anarchism is after all an extrapolation of the particular to the general. The author is an able-bodied (at time of writing), cis-male, heterosexual*, Working Class anarchist of North European heritage, self-educated with a few engineering and craft skills, living in the South of England, I don’t need a university lecturer to tell me that’s a position of considerable privilege in the modern world, and a potentially reactionary one, yet I’ve honestly never wanted anything from this society but to witness its demise. I’m also big, ugly, and in my fifties which helps when dealing with management and cops.

* I seldom use the word ‘straight’, it implies bias, and I’m not claiming my relatively banal proclivities as a badge of community with anyone.

Early on I questioned whether I was writing primarily for people more or less like myself, and dismissed the idea. Obviously it has its limitations, it wouldn’t be of much use to someone whose interest was, for example, the development of anarchism within Chinese culture. It is intended for people new to anarchist ideas, and privilege is a concept many find utterly baffling. Like reification* it’s a hard one to get your head around because it’s woven into the fabric of perceived reality, it’s largely invisible, especially if your contacts are all drawn from a narrow social base.

* Of course, privilege is a form of reification.

Privilege in this context is an absence or mitigation of oppression, seen from the point of view of the oppressed. At first sight it’s counter-intuitive, because no one ever feels privileged,* and the colloquial use of the word is a benefit of some kind, usually earned. It sounds dangerously close to the bosses’ view that we ought to be grateful for access to work, housing, health and education. It’s a demonstrable fact that the presence of any super-exploited group, migrant labour for example, depresses pay and conditions for all workers, so how does it work? How is it a privilege not to be excluded, underpaid, sexually abused, targeted by cops or attacked by bigots?

* There’s a lesson there; not even the ruling elite feel privileged, because they’re conditioned from birth to believe they deserve a bigger slice of the pie.

The liberal would claim these as basic human rights, but they have it backwards, society is oppressive by its nature, its institutions were specifically devised to divide and exploit us, so we each become acclimatised to the level of oppression we experience, and only when these lines are crossed protest that our rights have been violated. This is the liberal trap – it’s the oppression that’s normal, not the absence of it. For many these experiences are routine, and they may indeed consider it a privilege to walk home without being harassed, to apply for a vacancy and be offered an interview, or to attend and not hear that it has just been filled.

If X walks a steeper road than Y, all things being equal, Y will make more progress in a given time for the same effort. Capitalism requires us to compete by excluding others*, so as Y is ahead of X they will have the first choice of whatever they need for the next leg of the journey, and set off feeling positive and refreshed. So on through life; Y will always be where X isn’t, and X will have to work harder than Y just to avoid being left by the wayside. Y’s setbacks will be easier to overcome and of shorter duration. Believing in equality of opportunity, Y may conclude the demoralised and resentful X isn’t trying, or they may congratulate themselves on their own industry and cunning. Meritocracy is a nasty bourgeois trap, like justice, it’s a logical fallacy.

* Housing gentrification and social cleansing is a good example of this.

Read the rest of it.

The Tories want immigrants to save them from shortages? Fuck off

gal-dem

In a winter of discontent ruled by shortages, the Tories are turning to the immigrants they demonised to help them out.
Kemi Alemoru

Welcome to Britain. A land where Nandos and KFC, our premier chicken restaurants, are out of chicken. McDonald’s has no milkshakes. Our supermarket shelves are empty. Brexiteer-run budget pub chain Wetherspoons has pumped its own beer taps dry. The British Soft Drinks Association says we’re running out of gas to make our drinks fizzy. And thanks to nationwide fuel shortages, people are stuck in mile-long queues at petrol stations. Good luck. Outside of the motorway network an estimated 50%-85% of independent petrol stations in the UK currently have nothing left to give. We’re watching the nation coming apart at the seams.

What a silly little mess

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