Full text and PDF of the Anarchist Federation's monthly bulletin.
Anarchist Federation 25th Anniversary
The Anarchist Federation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, since its foundation as the Anarchist Communist Federation in 1986. A new issue of Organise! magazine will be out at the London Anarchist Bookfair in which we will look back on the last 5-6 years starting with the anti-G8 summit in Scotland in 2005. Other anniversary articles in the Winter edition of Organise! (no.77) will look at the Paris Commune (140 years ago), the centenary of the Mexican Revolution and British industrial struggles and school strikes in 1911, plus our latest contribution to analysis of the anti-cuts struggle and the usual book reviews and other interesting stuff.
If you don’t come and get one at the bookfair, you can easily order Organise! online by going to our website: http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/organise-magazine, where you will also find all recent back issues for free download. So if you are interested in more anniversary retrospectives, check out Organise! issues 42 (10 years) and 67 (20 years).
The 2011 Anarchist Bookfair is not to be missed and will take place Saturday 22nd October from 10am to 7pm at Queen Mary’s, University of London on Mile End Road, London E1 4NS. Full details: http://anarchistbookfair.org.uk/
If you organise and fight, you can win!
Major Gains at Heron Tower Dispute
Following negotiations with the cleaning contractor LCC, who covers contracts at the prestigious Heron Tower in London, the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) Cleaners and Allied Grades Branch has secured significant gains to the benefit of cleaning workers.
The IWW had launched a campaign to secure full payment of the living wage £8.30 an hour, for a resolution of staff shortages, and issues of unfair dismissal. The IWW has reached an agreement which has secured full-payment of the London Living Wage with back pay until May 2011, the staff shortage to be filled and confirmation of the rights of workers to organise.
Further discussions are underway on a recognition agreement with the IWW.
Libraries strike suspended - victory for jobs and services
Strike action planned to close all Lambeth Council’s libraries on Friday 22 July did not go ahead as the council management conceded that there would be no compulsory redundancies for library workers. Further industrial action to protect the service has not been ruled out by workers over the newly revised management offer but the determination of the library workers to take action led to a significant victory as it protected jobs and many frontline services.
Management plans included staff cuts, mobile library service withdrawn, libraries closing due to staff shortages, less money for books, fewer events, story sessions and silver surfers groups.
Police raid Bristol paper
On the afternoon of August 17th, police raided a house in central Bristol where an editor of local newspaper The Autonomist lives. Riot police kicked down the door of the property without warning, detained the inhabitants for two hours, and seized articles relating to the production of The Autonomist. Delighted journalists from the Evening Post swarmed around outside, trying to photograph the detainees and remaining in contact with an officer inside by telephone at all times.
The grudgingly-produced warrant for the raid attempts to link the occupants to recent disorder (as did a frankly libellous sign erected outside by the police). It authorises the seizure of "rocks" and "white paint", and refers repeatedly to "domestic extremisim [sic]". The list was rounded out with such incriminating articles as "pedal cycles", "clothing", and "literature". Several other items not listed, such as passports, were also illegally seized.
The Autonomist is a popular but controversial local paper produced by a small group of mainly homeless local people and distributed for free. They're dedicated to reporting unheard voices in the community, but this principled stance has caused problems in the past. Refusal to censor reports of the rising tide of sabotage attacks around Bristol or to stick to police statements when reporting the riots in April has earned the enmity of the police.
Collective member Lucy Parsons says, "The seizure of phones, computers, and paperwork relating to the production of The Autonomist just as we start to compile the September edition is a clear, worrying, and damaging attack on journalistic independence. The demonisation of those who report the news as ‘domestic extremists’, and the willingness to use violence to silence them, does not fill us with confidence in the police or the future of liberty in this country. Regardless, we will continue to produce The Autonomist, using computers at the library if we have to, and you can expect the September issue at the turn of the month."
Student Anger in Greece
An estimated 300 student assemblies are currently taking place in occupied university departments across Greece in response to education reform. The bill, which is part of a new set of austerity measures, increases private sector involvement in the Greek higher education system, as well as introducing tuition fees, putting commercial managers in control of university finances, and ending the right to academic asylum on Greek campuses.
Academic asylum was introduced by the PASOK government in 1982 as a commemorative gesture to the students killed in the Polytechnic Uprising against the military dictatorship in 1972, although as a custom it can be dated almost back to antiquity. It bans police from entering university grounds (although university authorities are permitted to lift the law on a case-by-case basis and police have been known to violate it) and has long meant academic institutions have acted as safe spaces for militants, including housing many long-standing anarchist and anti-authoritarian initiatives. The bill went through parliament at first reading, passed by an overwhelming majority.
Struggles around education reform in Greece are long-standing, and there was mass student involvement during the uprising in December 2008 following the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulus. The reforms are not only an attack on state-funded education but an attack on an organised and militant section of Greek society. In many cases this has been quite explicit, with politicians attributing low standards to students’ preoccupation with political activity and political commentators accusing universities of being recruiting grounds for the far-left.
While secondary schools also open for the year, university students have been publicising their demands amongst returning students in the hope of further generalising the struggle. Thanks to cuts, books are currently unavailable until November and many schools are under-staffed. Earlier this year the Greek Ministry of Education announced that more than 100 schools will have to close or merge.
The Ministry is clearly afraid of a spread in high school occupations and the government has issued a document to school directors informing them that “political speeches” should be banned in schools. Meanwhile, anger is mounting across Greece as the new austerity measures are rolled out. In a tragic incident earlier this month, a 55-year-old man set himself alight in front of a branch of Piraeus Bank in the northern city of Thessaloniki in protest and desperation of his mounting debt to the bank. He was rescued by passers-by and police and transferred to hospital.
The main building of the Athens School of Economics: The graffiti reads ‘Solidarity to Migrants’ and ‘What the hand of the state cannot reach, can be reached by the knife of the para-state’ (referring to the wave of attacks by fascists against migrants). The banner reads ‘Occupation’.
Scottish Defence League demo squashed once again
September 10th saw another attempt by the far right group known as the Scottish Defence League to march in Edinburgh. For the second time, it was rebuffed by anti-fascists and community groups.
The last time they came to the city, in February 2010, they were turned back at train stations and penned into a pub. This time the SDL were joined by the North East Infidels, a splinter group who favour a more equal-opportunities approach to racial hatred and are rumored to include National Front activists. Numbers were lower than the previous attempt, but the threat of violence was, if anything, higher.
SDL were prevented from marching but permitted to hold a static demonstration, despite threats of violence from SDL supporters. Around 400 people attended a Unite Against Fascism rally and marched into a protest pen, while a breakaway group from Edinburgh Antifascist Alliance travelled to the other side of Regent Road, aiming to block the busloads of boozed-up baby Breíviks from getting in.
The police, drafted in from across Scotland, heavily outnumbered both sides and stopped the two sides from coming within spitting distance of each other. The day therefore leaves open questions of how best to fight fascism. While most anti-fascists agree on the need to attack it politically, UAF's approach of aligning with political parties and the police does nothing to answer the concerns of those alienated from politics. Fortunately, the SDL remain much weaker than the EDL, their English counterpart, and with no clear prospect of growth.
Anarchist Black Cross
This very short history and introduction to the aims of the Anarchist Black Cross is quoted from ABC Brighton’s website: “The Anarchist Black Cross was originated in Tsarist Russia to organize aid for political prisoners. In the late 1960s the organization resurfaced in Britain, where it first worked to aid prisoners of the Spanish resistance fighting the dictator Franco's police. Now it has expanded and groups are found in many countries around the world. We support anarchist and other class struggle prisoners, fund-raise on behalf of prisoners in need of funds for legal cases or otherwise, and organize demonstrations of solidarity with imprisoned anarchists and other prisoners.”
For more information about supporting revolutionary prisoners in the UK and internationally visit the websites of Anarchist Black Cross groups:
145–149 Cardigan Road.
PO Box 74
c/o Kebele Community Coop
14 Robertson Road
Green & Black Cross
See also the G&BC website, http://greenandblackcross.org:
“The Green & Black Cross is a project set up in the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity to support autonomous social struggles within the UK. It's a project set up to provide legal support for protests against the governments wave of massive spending cuts. The project takes inspiration from the Anarchist Black Cross”.
Anti-Fascist Prisoner Support
Send messages of solidarity to six recently jailed anti-fascist prisoners. For further info about the prisoners and The Cable Street Society, which is the support fund set-up for them, see the Leeds ABC website. You can send a few stamps with your letter or card so those jailed can write to their friends, family and comrades.
Andy Baker (21 months).
Thomas Blak (18 months)
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Road
Sean Cregan (21 months)
Phil De Souza (21 months)
Ravinder Gill (21 months)
Austen Jackson (15 months)
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Road
Francis Fernie was convicted of Violent Disorder after the March 26 anti-cuts demo in 2011. In July 2011 Francis was sent to prison for 12 months. http://freefrankfernie.info
Ed Woollard took part in the November 2010 student occupation Millbank Tower and was jailed for 32 months for Violent Disorder http://support4edwoollard.wordpress.com
Write to Edward C/o.
For further excellent info on prisons go to: Campaign Against Prison Slavery
P.O. BOX 74
Freedom of Movement: No Borders Bulgaria
Some months ago Bulgarian anarchists and anti-racists began an ambitious plan to hold a No Borders Bulgaria event close to an immigration detention centre on the border of Bulgaria, Greece & Turkey - on the very edge of the European Union. The camp that took place 25-29 August 2011 was supported by people from Greece and elsewhere in the Balkans and from Western Europe, coming together to oppose a system that sees thousands of people imprisoned in detention centres.
A participant in the No Border camp wrote to Resistance, “The camp was GREAT!!!!!! I have rarely experienced such a solidarity, organizational cooperation and purposeful political work at the same place in the same time [including] discussions around the newly militarized Bulgarian-Turkish-Greek border region starting 4 days before the camp itself, the workshops in the camp, the communication with the village community where the camp took place, the plenaries....to the big demonstrations in front of the headquarters of the border police in Svilengrad, at the two borders and along and in front of the detention center in Lyubimetz! Keeping in mind the small dimension of activism in Bulgaria […] everything exceeded my expectation and even hopes!”
Whilst the media focuses on Europe’s economic woes, the militarisation of the EU’s borders has continued. During the battle for control of Libya over the summer, it is perhaps conveniently forgotten that the Italian state, through an agreement struck with the regime back in 2004, transported over 1,500 migrants and refugees to Libya who had previously been detained in Italy. Libyan immigration detention centres in Al Kufrah and Gharyan (close to Tripoli) and Sebha (in South West Libya) are paid for by the Italian state.
Meanwhile, many people trying to escape repression in Sub-Saharan and East Africa are now in extreme danger, and some have been deported back to these countries from Libya. Others have continued to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in small boats. Thousands have died. This is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have fled during the conflict, now either trying to get back to their country of origin or seeking safety elsewhere. In Italy and Tunisia, refugees and asylum seekers have been confined in camps and transit centres for indefinite periods of time, their freedom of movement severely limited.
This makes the work of groups like No Borders Bulgaria all the more important. The EU’s member states are completely tied in with a system that treats people as a problem to be contained, even if this means paying a dictator to lock them up. Bulgarian and Greek anarchists have taken an important step in countering detention on the borders of Europe.
For more on No Borders Bulgaria, and the No Border camp, visit http://noborderbulgaria.org/ and http://noborderbulgaria.wordpress.com/.
Glasgow Uni Occupation Ends
Noon on 31st August 2011 saw the doors close for the final time on the Free Hetherington as the occupation at Glasgow University came to an end. Occupied since 1st February, and lasting 212 days, this was the longest-running student occupation in recent British history (covered in Resistance #130).
The decision to end the occupation followed a series of negotiations with the university’s Senior Management Group. The occupiers have won some concessions from the university, including a new postgraduate club, no further cuts to courses and no compulsory redundancies at the University “in the near future” - it will have to remain to be seen what this means in reality. It seems likely that these 'concessions' are nothing more than hollow promises from the university seeking to placate its increasingly radicalised students.
It’s this process of radicalisation that could be said to be the true value of the long-running occupation. The Free Hetherington had a large part to play in encouraging an atmosphere of activity and militancy on campus when it came to opposing the cuts being pushed through by the university management. It seems clear that the occupation has had a far-reaching impact outside of official channels. The Free Hetherington was a place to share ideas, debate long into the night, build campaigns, support staff on strike - a radicalising space within what has long been one of the most conservative universities in Scotland.
Despite backtracking on some of its plans in the face of huge opposition, the management at Glasgow University is still planning to go ahead with cuts to Slavonic Studies and close down Crichton campus in Dumfries, which was saved from closure once before thanks to a campaign led by the Industrial Workers of the World in 2007. In spite of the gains of the occupation, the anti-cuts struggle continues at Glasgow University, and on campuses across Scotland and the UK.
The protest movement against the Chilean government austerity measures is going strong. In July, miners united their grievances with those of students protesting against education cuts . They marched together on 14th July in Santiago. This was followed by several days of action in August with as many as one million people taking part. This developing movement is large and impressive in the way it is connecting student and lworker struggles. This is in spite of the over 750 arrests made in the course of a two-day general strike on 24th and 25th August, police attacks on demonstrations, and the police murder of an unarmed sixteen-year-old demonstrator on 26th August.
Senate House Cleaners
Cleaners working at Senate House but employed by Balfour Beatty went out on strike in early September morning in protest at the employer’s failure to pay their wages. The UNISON members complained of widespread, systematic missing overtime payments, and a failure to honour the University’s commitment to pay the Living Wage.
Their grievances had been going on for months and they were tired of waiting for false promises. Some of them had not been paid properly for up to eight months, and were having severe problems because of this, including some workers facing eviction - and so yesterday they decided to take action.
Management tried to intimidate them with threats of dismissal if they walked out but the workers stood up to them. Local activists from the Bloomsbury Fightback! group and staff and students from the surrounding colleges had organised solidarity from the wider community to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside them.
The cleaners were insisting not only on their back-pay but also the London Living Wage (now £8.30) to be paid immediately. They were on £6.15 per hour, when workers in Birkbeck and SOAS doing similar jobs have just got a pay rise to £8.30 per hour, thanks to the successful Living Wage campaigns that the workers and the UNISON branches led with support from students, staff, and the other unions. They also demanded a commitment to no victimisations, The employer had asked them to commit not to walking off the job again if they received their pay, which was rejected. Balfour Beatty hurriedly agreed to pay the back pay. The dispute continues.
Israel- the fight against austerity
Israeli workers mobilised against the rising cost of living which include a 27% hike in rents by taking to the street and creating protest camps in 25 towns including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Haifa. In Tel Aviv hundreds of tents were set up. The police demolished two of these camps in Tel Aviv, but they were quickly put up again. Roads were blocked Some Arab workers have taken part in the movement with a joint Israeli-Palestinian camp in the city of Akko. This needs to be developed as workers realise their real interests are opposed to both the Israeli state and the administrations run by Hamas and the PLO.
As many as 150,000 initially took part in the actions, a significant event largely ignored by the Western media. A similar number of municipal workers came out on a one day general strike, and in early September 300,000 demonstrated in Tel Aviv with 100,000 out on the streets in other parts of Israel. This ongoing movement is proving to be a increasing threat to the Netanyahu government
Venezuelan Anarchist Arrested in Sweden
Rafael Uzcategui, one of the founders of the influential Venezuelan Anarchist newspaper El Libertario, was recently arrested in Leula, Sweden along with 12 other activists. They had been involved in a non-violent direct action against a NATO military base in Santa Elena. Many of those arrested were members of International War Resisters and the Movement for Conscientious Objection in Valencia, Spain. Uzacategui is the author of a recent book, “Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle” which criticises the so-called “socialist” government of Hugo Chavez for its continuing oppression of indigenous people and its links to Multinational Oil corporations.
Filipino Anarchists disrupt State of the Nation Address
On Monday the 25th of July thousands of people took to the capital city of the Philippines to protest against the lies that corrupt president Benigno Aquino was spewing out to the corporate media at his first State of the Nation Address. The march was mainly dominated by authoritarian leftists who were there, as usual, to promote themselves and their reformist and pacifist tactics. However, a black bloc called by local Anarchists managed to change the dynamic, openly confronting riot police, occupying major roads and visibly promoting anarchist ideas with graffiti and banner slogans such as “There is no change in continuous reform. Anarchist revolution is the solution. Destroy hierarchy. Defend ecology. End poverty”. No arrests were made, despite the presence of thousands of armed riot police, who it is believed were taken by surprise by the anarchists’ tactics.
Defend Welfare Meeting, London
The Defend Welfare/No to Welfare Abolition network is hosting a meeting in London on 23rd October to share ideas and develop strategies to stop the government-led attacks on welfare. The network say the meeting “is open to everyone who wants to take action to defend welfare. We are a claimant-led network – our response to welfare reforms is led by people who feel their effects the most – but the attacks on welfare will affect us all whether we are in work or may need welfare as parents, if we become unemployed, due to sickness or disability, or as pensioners.”
This comes at a critical time, when welfare is being systematically attacked on many fronts. Unemployed people are being forced to work for no pay, whilst pri- vate companies stand to make millions through bullying claimants on the Work Programme. Disabled people are being deprived of their entitlement to benefits through the devastating Work Capability Assessment process. People can now be left destitute for up to two years through benefit sanctions while legal aid cuts make it harder to challenge bad treatment. Housing benefit cuts are set to make thousands homeless, with yet more evic- tions called for in response to the summer riots. Single mothers are being forced to be job-seekers when their children are at an even younger age, and the only benefit that was available to people under 18, Education Main- tenance Allowance, has been abolished. Asylum seekers are even worse off, as they are not allowed to work and have to survive on incomes far below normal benefit levels.
But people across the UK are organising. The Boy- cott Workfare campaign recently forced the “Making Work Pay” conference to relocate at short notice. ATOS- Origin, the company responsible for cutting hundreds of thousands of peoples’ disability benefits, has had many of its offices occupied, costing it thousands of pounds. As we go to press, a further national day of action is planned for the 30th September. Claimants are sharing information on how to challenge the bullying and dis- crimination that is rife in the new set-up.
Details: Sunday 23rd October, 11am-5pm. Somers Town Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, Lon- don, NW1 1EE (5 minutes walk from Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations). Wheelchair accessible. Please email [email protected] with workshop ideas, offers of funds or help with food, childcare or facilitation on the day.
National demonstration and walkout against cuts to education
After a period of political lull, students are mobilizing again for their first big action this year – a national dem- onstration and walkout in London on November 9th. The march is focused against cuts to the education sector, and is meant to involve not just students but education sector workers as well.
The NUS is not supporting this demonstration officially, which means the responsibility of organizing this dem- onstration is pretty much open to all concerned. Student activists themselves have expressed willingness to work with a broad cross-section of students, student representa- tives, activist groups and radicals to make this march a success and hopefully rejuvenate the student/anti-cuts movement.
As anarchists and radicals the struggle for non-priva- tized, not-for-profit education available to all is something we should be an active part of. We can do so by contribut- ing our collective presence, in whatever way we see fit, to this event. This call-out, therefore, is for anarchists/ anti-authoritarians in London to meet to decide how we can organize politically – collectively – not only for Nov 9th, but also for the build up in the interim.
London anarchist students
Contact: [email protected]