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Radical Workers’ Bloc calls for class war against capitalism & ConDem cuts

Today, over 4,000 people braved wind and rain to march and protest against the Lib Dems and the cuts agenda. It was a demonstration of the level of anger people feel – but also the willingness of their “leaders” to merely act as a safety valve, defusing that anger before it reaches the ruling class.

People assembled by the Anglican cathedral to march down to the docks where the protest was held. There were a number of trade union banners, as well as the banners of the Solidarity Federation and Anarchist Federation, whose membership made up theRadical Workers’ Bloc. Despite the rain, the huge turnout and musical accompaniments made it a lively atmosphere.

But whilst the spirit of the rank-and-file made the march vibrant, this was in spite the planning done by trade union leaders, not because of it.

General strike 2010 – Barcelona

Two members of Liverpool SolFed recently visited Barcelona to show solidarity during the Spanish general strike of September 29th. They report:

During our stay in Barcelona we visited the Banesto building on Plaça de Catalunya which had been occupied for several days by anti-capitalists. They used the derelict space to celebrate resistance, as well as freely exchange information and radical ideas. However the building was later brutally repossessed by riot police.

On the day of the general strike, we joined a lively demonstration of several thousand organized by our sister organisation, the CNT, who put forward a much more militant message of resistance compared to that of the reformist trade unions.

Why workers need to look beyond the TUC

At the TUC’s annual conference, union delegates have backed joint industrial action if “attacks” on jobs, pensions and public services go ahead. The gathering backed a motion which included calls to build “a broad solidarity alliance of unions and communities under threat”.

However, we will not see “hundreds of thousands of workers take to the streets” under the TUC’s leadership.

The fact that trade unionists had to stage a protest outside the conference “lobbying” the TUC to call a national demonstration says it all. We need to be taking the initiative on the streets, not begging for piecemeal protests to be authorised from above.

Restaurant workers still being robbed one year on

The beginning of October saw the first anniversary of a change in the law designed to give waiters 100% of their tips.  It was brought in because many café and restaurant owners were routinely taking advantage of a loophole in the law which allowed them to use their workers’ tips towards the wage bill.  Despite being rewarded by customers with extra money for their hard graft, waiters were being paid only the minimum wage by unscrupulous managers.

The then Labour government, prompted by campaigns by Unite the Union, passed the law on 1st October 2009.  But one year on, there are still problems front of house.  According to Dave Turnbull of Unite, “There are still too many employers who regard tips as a subsidy for low pay and who see the tips and service charge money left by customers as a pot of cash to which they are free to help themselves.

Looking back at the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike

In March 1984, twenty five years ago, the National Coal Board announced it intended to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. Cortonwood in South Yorkshire was earmarked as the first to close, “imminently”, in the words of the NCB chairman, Ian MacGregor. The miners at Cortonwood immediately came out on strike and by March 12th the National Union of Mineworkers had made the strike national. This was to become the bitterest industrial dispute in most of our lifetimes and marked a major defeat for the working class.

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.

Review - Live Working or Die Fighting (by Paul Mason)

Newsnight correspondent, Paul Mason’s Live Working or Die Fighting offers a unique, timely and engaging micro-historical account of the rise and fall of the revolutionary working class. Charting the conditions which gave rise to the mass syndicalist movements in Europe and the Americas during the early 20th century, contemporary parallels are drawn and interwoven with the experiences of workers in the newly industrialised “global south”.

Mason eulogises key inspirational figures from our past – figures like Louise Michel, Bill Haywood, Tom Paine – telling of bitter struggles fought with murderous bosses and implacable rulers. Latterly, he cites the post-war factors that have seen militant workers’ movements fall into seemingly irretrievable decline; welfarism and workforce stratification, to name but two.

Killing for Profit

The 2008 Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights is frightening reading. The report documents the murders of 76 trade unionists around the world. By far the most dangerous place for trade unionists remains Columbia where approximately one trade unionist was slaughtered each week. The second most murderous state was Guatemala, where nine trade unionists were killed. Four were killed in both Venezuela and the Philippines, three in Honduras, two in Nepal and one each in Iraq, Nigeria, Panama, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Report back from IWA conference in León, Spain

Three delegates from the Solidarity Federation attended the conference mainly dealing with 'precarity', self-management and co-operatives. The conference was hosted at the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo's IX anarchist camp near León in northern Spain.

There were about 100 people at the camp and 60 participants in the conference. Ten sections were represented: CNT-F (France), FAU (Germany), Priama Akcia (Slovakia), ZSP (Poland), SolFed (Britain), SP (Portugal), USI (Italy), KRAS (Russia), NSF (Norway) and of course the CNT-E (Spain). There were also two guest organisations: MASA from Croatia and two delegates from the Peruvian newspaper La Humanidad, who however arrived several hours after closure of the conference due to immigration/visa problems.

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