A round-up of IWW activity. Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker #1585 (November 1995)
Around the union
Wobblies in Wales
The IWW was invited to send delegates to what was called a "Peoples Parliament" at the former Welsh Parliament at Owain Glyndwr House, Machynlleth, Dyfed. Bob Mander went as our delegate on 16 September, armed with a poster and some IWW leaflets.
About 40 people turned up representing various left wing organisations throughout Wales. The speakers on the platform included a Scottish Nationalist, a campaigner against open cast mining, and a campaigner against water privatisation. The meeting was chaired by a member of Faner Goch (Welsh Socialists) and bilingual translation facilities were provided. There were many Welsh nationalists in attendance, some seeking a Welsh Assembly with the United Kingdom and others seeking total independence.
After the official speakers the meeting was thrown open for discussion. A green anarchist gave a very good speech more or less saying "Why delegate to politicians what you have the ability to do for yourselves" and advocated direct action.
Bob spoke on behalf of the IWW:
"Bob Mander, delegated on behalf of the Aberystwyth IWW,
"Comrades, the evils the speakers have described are the evils of capitalism. That is the enemy we must eradicate. You believe that you can do this through the medium of a Welsh Parliament, but I would warn you that if you are granted a Welsh Parliament, it will only be because the ruling class see it as an expedient that in no way threatens the underlying social system.
"In considering a Welsh Parliament you must take into account the nature of so-called representative government and the corrupting nature of power, for you will be bringing into being a mechanism whereby every political opportunist and con man will be enabled to jump on your back.
"If a society is to be run in the interest of its people it necessitates their active participation in the decision making, for you can only trust what you can control. Therefore to achieve a truly socialist form of society it must be built from below up, it cannot be conferred by politicians, that is why we in the IWW say we must build the framework of the new society in the shell of what we have got, and this must be built industrially.
"Political rights and social justice do not originate in parliaments, rather they are forced upon parliaments from the outside, and even with their enactment into law there is no guarantee of security, for as the Mexican revolutionist once said:
"'Remember whatever a government gives you it can just as easily take away, but what you take by your strength you can hold by your strength"
"Hasn't your experience of the English parliamentary system taught you anything? All politicians are con men and racketeers."
Here the meeting broke up for a tea break, the second session was to discuss practical measures to bring about a Welsh Parliament so Bob left.
Footnote: Bob is a 75 year old veteran of class warfare. He was one of a handful of revolutionaries in Britain who launched the revamped British section of the IWW in 1947, and was active in the dockers strike. Bob was also involved in the Syndicalist Workers Federation and the Direct Action Movement. On Thursday 12 October, national Poetry Day in Britain, Bob was found outside a local bookshop in Aberystwyth reciting IWW poetry to the assembled masses.
Lehigh Bingo Owners Settled
Ten minutes before a NLRB hearing on unfair labor practices was to begin, the operators of Boulevard Bingo offered a settlement, under which they are to pay $6,800 in back wages to the three fired workers and drop their harassment law suit against IWW organizer Lenny Flank. The workers agreed not to demand reinstatement. This marks the end of a two-year struggle by workers at the bingo parlor to win decent conditions, a struggle in which one of the co-operators was barred from continued involvement in running the bingo parlor, and in which the suviving partner repeatedly demonstrated his complete contempt for workers' rights.
Joe Hill, Political Song Celebration
A celebration of Political Song celebrating the power of music and song in struggles for liberation, equality and justice and commemorating IWW songwriter Joe Hill on the 80th anniversary of his death will be held November 17-19th in Sheffield, England. The program includes a series of labor films and a play, The Dream of Joe Hill, beginning Nov. 8, and two days of music and workshops on Saturday Nov. 18 and Sunday Nov. 19. Day time programs - including Cor Cochion, Eurydice, Leeds People's Choir, Nottingham Clarion Choir, Raised Voices, Rotherham Red Choir, Velvet Fist, Wendy Corum, Annie Dearman & Vic Gammon, Dave Douglas, Claire Mooney, Mick Parkin, Liz Ounstead and Janet Wood - are free, while there is a charge for featured performances by Leon Rosselson, Frankie Armstrong, Dick Gaughan, Quimantu, Roy Bailey, Labi Siffre, Abdul T-Jay and the Rokoto Band. Workshops will be led by the IWW's own Fred Lee and others. For registration, tickets or information, write: Raise Your Banners!, 106 Osgathorpe Road, Sheffield S4 7AS or telephone 0114 253 4453.
Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker #1585 (November 1995)