AF Statement on June 30th

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Battlescarred
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Jun 13 2011 09:19
AF Statement on June 30th

ANARCHIST FEDERATION STATEMENT ON THE JUNE 30TH STRIKES
Nearly a million workers will be striking and demonstrating on June 30th- workers in education, the civil service and the London underground. This is a further sign of widespread anger within the working class at the package of austerity measures unleashed by the government. We have already had the student demonstration which ended with the Millbank occupation, the huge turnout on March 26th as well as many local actions including strikes, blockades, marches.
These austerity measures are hitting us , the working class, through cuts in the NHS, fast rising unemployment rates, rounds of redundancies, whether so-called “voluntary” or compulsory, wage freezes, cuts in disability benefits, and cuts in local services as well as an attack on pensions, which is a major reason for the June 30th actions. People will have to pay more for their pensions, will have to work longer , and at the end, get a smaller pension .
It seems exciting that so many workers are coming out at the same time. However, union leaders will not go far enough, and will seek to channel our anger and dissent into weak and tokenistic forms of protest. Those of us in the striking unions have been balloted for discontinuous action - giving us the option to stage multiple strikes. We need to make sure this happens, and that these strikes are as far reaching and militant as possible including further strike action in October. But not all public sector workers are striking, and the private sector is out of the equation.
This should not be an occasion to let this go by passively. The day of action can be made more effective by
• Strengthening the strike pickets as much as possible. Everyone should support these by going to their nearest picket. This means not just workers in that sector but everyone who is affected by the cuts- other workers, school students, FE and HE students, pensioners, the unemployed
• Refusing to cross picket lines
• Joining the strike even if you are not a paid up member of a union
• Organising meetings in the workplaces in the run up to June 30th to get maximum support for the strike
• School students and further education students ( where they are still at school because many terms will be ending) should turn out to support teachers and lecturers and organise their own actions
• Most university students will have finished their academic year. However, where possible they should support the strike pickets and demonstrations where they can
• The widest possible solidarity has to be reached between teaching staff and support staff. In all sectors, whether education, the civil service or transport the greatest involvement of those not “officially “ on strike
• Encourage those who feel they cannot take part in supporting the strike including workers in other sectors to phone in sick on the day
• On June 30th delegations from picket lines to visit other workplaces to encourage solidarity action. The organisation of local marches and assemblies where possible
June 30th has the potential to be a huge display of anger at the cuts that are being imposed. The more successful, the more who turn out to strike and to support, the greater the encouragement to carry on ongoing actions that don’t just involve one token day.
We have no faith in the trade union leaders to successfully “lead” the fight against these austerity measures. Neither should we place trust in the Labour Party. They were the ones who started many of the measures that this government has carried on. Where Labour runs local councils it implements the cuts packages . Labour tells us that cuts are necessary, it’s just that they will do it in a “kinder “ way. How many Labour MPs have you heard justifying austerity measures?
No, we have to rely on ourselves, on our own organisation. We can carry on the fight through mass assemblies where everyone can put over their view, where any delegates are mandated and subject to recall. We can win this fight against these austerity measures. All over the world we have the example of ordinary working people suddenly discovering their own self confidence and their own ability to organise and to resist , no matter what the odds.
WE CAN WIN!

Spikymike
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Jun 12 2011 16:47

Good statement but....which local council workers 'will be' striking. I thought UNISON Council workers etc were not supporting June 30th or is this a reference to particular disputes with particular Councils?

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Steven.
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Jun 12 2011 17:26

Well technically most teachers are Council employees, so perhaps it refers to them. There may be some disputes in individual councils as well

Battlescarred
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Jun 13 2011 09:11

Sorry, sent out the unamended version!!! I've now corrected it

T La Palli
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Jun 23 2011 18:12

There is a thread on ABC about the AF statement here.

The only comment on the thread that is actually about the statement is a as follows:

"On the AF statement:

Mostly fine, standard leftists fair that coulda been written by any far left group (not that that's a bad thing, the the far left is generally right about this stuff). Suffers from the usual far-left notion that what is needed is more militancy, then more militancy, then more militancy. A militant approach is obvious important where it can be strategically useful, but a lack of militancy is not the central weakness of the labour movement. Its diminutive density for example is a far more important problem..."

Thought this was interesting. What do people think?

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Steven.
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Jun 24 2011 08:19

Actually, he has edited that post now to add some more:

snowball wrote:
AF wrote:
Joining the strike even if you are not a paid up member of a union

I would want to caution people that they would be breaking the law and could be fired without recourse before asking them to do this!

and this has actually made me angry. Quite fortunately I never have any dealings with any L & S people, so I guess I'm shocked to see this sort of idiocy. Actually lying in order to scare people into scabbing - in the name of "libertarian socialism". Absolutely disgusting behaviour. Not only is this sort of behaviour way to the right of groups like the trots, this is even way to the right of lots of Labour Party people in the unions, who still try to get people not to cross picket lines.

Workers not crossing picket lines is not "against the law" in any way, and it is quite disgusting to lie about it in this way, especially as some people may believe this.

Secondly, *potentially* someone could be fired over it, but this is unlikely, and certainly it is a lie to say that you would be "without recourse". On strike like June 30 in my view it would be extremely unlikely for people to sacked for participating, for several reasons:
- with picket lines, you can always say didn't feel personally safe crossing them. Employees have the right to refuse work which is unsafe
- your employer does not know if you are in a union or not (unless you tell them, but of course you don't have to tell them the truth). So if you are in one of the job grades covered by one of the recognised striking unions, your employer will probably assume you are a member, and have no way to find out if you're not
- if workers like school support staff inform managers in advance that they will not cross picket lines, it increases the likelihood that the school will just close down, which them means that no one will have to go to work, and no one will be victimised.
- Legally, people on an unofficial strike (which usually is a big step above not crossing picket lines) can be disciplined but they all have to be treated in the same way, so if you are not alone there is a good chance you will be all right.
- Even if you do get in trouble, your "crime" could just be unauthorised absence, which in many employers (likely the majority striking on the 30th) is just misconduct, rather than gross misconduct, so you could get a warning but not fired. And they would have to do apply this to everyone.
- If you did get fired, you would have recourse on the grounds of unfair dismissal, if you were not treated equally with colleagues who didn't cross, or if you felt unsafe crossing the picket line, or even on the basis of your political views which prevent you from crossing a picket line (I don't think this has been tested in court yet), or if you were disciplined excessively.
- In my workplace, which has 10,000 employees, no one has been disciplined (let alone sacked) for crossing picket lines in recent history. Other people will know or could find out what has happened in their workplaces. A big thing keeping workers down is fear - and we should not be trying to unrealistically increase people's fear of the power of the bosses. Quite the opposite in fact. We should be honest with people, and let people make their own minds up based on their own circumstances.

It seems to me that this lie is being spouted in attempt to further their aim of building union density - if people think that they're not crossing picket lines is "against the law" if they are not in a union, maybe they will be more likely to join one. Apart from this being perverse logic, and dishonest, from a political point of view this still makes no sense, as if workers only act within the confines of their union and legality then we will lose. The game is rigged against us. Otherwise school support staff in unison will still have to cross teachers in NUT/ATL's picket lines, and vice versa, and we will be used against one another.

On the rest of that comment:

snowball wrote:

Mostly fine, standard leftists fair that coulda been written by any far left group (not that that's a bad thing, the the far left is generally right about this stuff)

firstly, it is not "standard leftists fair (sic)", nor could it have been written by any far left group. The AF is not a leftist group. And no leftist group would write things like:

AF wrote:
We have no faith in the trade union leaders to successfully “lead” the fight against these austerity measures. Neither should we place trust in the Labour Party. They were the ones who started many of the measures that this government has carried on. Where Labour runs local councils it implements the cuts packages . Labour tells us that cuts are necessary, it’s just that they will do it in a “kinder “ way. How many Labour MPs have you heard justifying austerity measures?
[b] No, we have to rely on ourselves, on our own organisation. We can carry on the fight through mass assemblies where everyonecan put over their view, where any delegates are mandated and subject to recall.

It is also very telling that snowball says that that would not be a bad thing as "the far left is generally right about this stuff", which says a lot about his politics. The usual far left line says that the problem is with the leadership of the unions, and the answer is for them to lead the unions, and then vote labour.

snowball wrote:
Suffers from the usual far-left notion that what is needed is more militancy, then more militancy, then more militancy. A militant approach is obvious important where it can be strategically useful, but a lack of militancy is not the central weakness of the labour movement. Its diminutive density for example is a far more important problem...

again, that is not a usual far left notion. It is also not even accurate here, really, as what is being promoted is not just militancy but organisation and solidarity.

And here we again see the usual bogus L & S line trotted out about union density being the main issue - which is demonstrably false, as union density in France is much lower than the UK (around 10% as opposed to around 28%) but workers are much more militant, and often organise in big assemblies. And in any case in these type of strikes where unions have divided up the workforce anyway even having 100% density in various unions would still only mean a minority of the workforce striking.

I still can't believe this person encouraging workers to scab - is this an official Liberty & Solidarity position or what? What do other people in the group think about this?

Snowball then goes on to add this question:

Quote:
How is the AF popularising its program within the unions?

now, answering for myself, we don't do things "within the unions". Only a small minority of the working class is in unions, and this minority gets even smaller as you look at younger workers, and those in more precarious conditions. So we target our work at the working class.

In my workplace, what that means for me is organising workers' meetings across different job roles, contract types and union memberships (i.e. permanent, agency, fixed term workers in unison, GMB and no union) getting us to discuss things and decide on actions together. On June 30 arguing for school staff not to cross picket lines, and for other workers to call in sick or otherwise take the day off with annual or toil to join in with strike support activities. And beyond it is building support for us taking industrial action, possibly in October.

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Serge Forward
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Jun 24 2011 09:03
Quote:
Workers not crossing picket lines is not "against the law" in any way, and it is quite disgusting to lie about it in this way, especially as some people may believe this.

In fact, the law states that one cannot be discriminated against for being in a union or not being in a union. In this way, the anti union laws provide a convenient loophole allowing non union members to strike with their union colleagues (not that that happens very much). Either way, snowball is talking shite.

Jason Cortez
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Jun 24 2011 11:36

An example from a school in Greenwich, the union reps advised the head that some people not in a union that is striking (mainly Unison and GMB i think) said that they would not cross the picket. He replied that it is a breach of contract and disciplinary action would follow. it was pointed out to the head that in fact striking is technically also a breach of contract and that any attempt to punish any worker for respecting the picket line would lead to a walkout. the next day the head announced he was closing the school after previously insisting he would keep it open. An employer would be risking a serious esculation of the struggle in attempting to victimised an employee at site where strikes were taking place.
I think Snowball comments reflect the attempt by L&S to distant themselves from the 'ultra left' and appear pragmatic and serious. So fearful of being called 'ultra left' and adventurists etc they twist themselves in knots all to no avail. As in the end 'ultra left' is a pretty meaningless smear word which makes those so catagoriesd 'beyond the pale' and not worthy of discussion. And no matter what they do, to people like the LRC they will always be 'ultra left' and they will always therefore stuck in business of defining themselves against the 'ultra left' not developing their understanding through struggle and testing their ideas and conclusion on the terrain of the class war but always in reference to the bogey of the 'ultra left'.

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Steven.
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Jun 24 2011 12:46
Jason Cortez wrote:
An example from a school in Greenwich, the union reps advised the head that some people not in a union that is striking (mainly Unison and GMB i think) said that they would not cross the picket. He replied that it is a breach of contract and disciplinary action would follow. it was pointed out to the head that in fact striking is technically also a breach of contract and that any attempt to punish any worker for respecting the picket line would lead to a walkout. the next day the head announced he was closing the school after previously insisting he would keep it open. An employer would be risking a serious esculation of the struggle in attempting to victimised an employee at site where strikes were taking place.

Jason, that's exactly right. I could pick out comparable examples in my borough as well. During our unison pay strike in 2008, teachers in some schools in the NUT informed their heads that they would not cross unison picket lines, so the heads shut most of those schools down.

Quote:

I think Snowball comments reflect the attempt by L&S to distant themselves from the 'ultra left' and appear pragmatic and serious. So fearful of being called 'ultra left' and adventurists etc they twist themselves in knots all to no avail.

this is exactly right - to try to make them look respectable to their union bureaucrat friends.

But it is a spectacular mistake: even right-wing union reps often tried to enact that basic element of workers' solidarity: that you do not cross picket lines.

A union rep saying what he said in my branch would get the boot (unless he retracted it and apologised).

Battlescarred
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Jun 24 2011 13:29

Snowball needs to make up his mind, are we ultra-leftist or leftist??????/

Jason Cortez
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Jun 24 2011 13:34

Forgot to add that the head also said that no action would be taken against anyone who did not cross a picket line in the same memo about school closures.

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Jun 24 2011 18:54

Excellent posts by Steven and Jason Cortez,

'I would want to caution people that they would be breaking the law and could be fired without recourse before asking them to do this!'

'the the far left is generally right about this stuff'

When I read these comments by snowball they made me angry too.

I think that L&S actually consider themselves to be on the far left.

I seriously think that it's excellent that comrades have the stamina to counter the reactionary statements that are produced by groups that call themselves anarchist.

Dan.

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Jun 26 2011 11:46

Quite hilariously, Snowball has now posted this:

Quote:
Yup my bad, I had been informed that this was the case by a PCS full-timer a while back but turns out they were wrong

No shit Sherlock!

My comment about their union bureaucrat friends was meant to be just hyperbole, but looks like it is actually true!

I also think this quite accurately demonstrates the actual level of knowledge, experience and involvement in unions from these "pragmatic" people whose main goal seems to be building union density, as opposed to us "do nothing" ultra-leftists (or leftists) who actually do seem to know what we're talking about and do actually carry out activity in our workplaces, as opposed to pompously going on about "popularising its program within the unions".

What is worrying is if some young, inexperienced radicals actually take this lot at their word, and mistake "serious" language for serious politics.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 26 2011 15:04

Is Snowball Tacks? Dundee?

gypsy
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Jun 26 2011 15:11

Students members of the NUT cannot strike and have to go into school if the headteacher asks them to apparently....? I am scheduled to be there...Any advice?

Quote:
Dear colleague

As it becomes increasingly clear that the Government is not, and never was, taking negotiations seriously, our pension campaign is growing and building momentum.
The NUT is taking strike action alongside colleagues in the ATL on 30 June. Lecturers in the UCU and civil servants in the PCS will also be taking action on that day. We are delighted that the National Association of Head Teachers has now also decided to ballot its members for industrial action.
As an NUT student member, you cannot be on strike yourself. If your school is open and you are scheduled to be there on 30 June, the head teacher may ask you to come in and carry on your teaching practice. However, you should not be expected to cover classes where the teacher is on strike. If your school is closed on the day of action and you have no other college commitments that day or your college term has finished, please join in with any locally organised NUT activities. Details are available at www.teachers.org.uk/pensions.
In the last few days more than 5,000 NUT members have emailed their MP asking them to contact Michael Gove about the issue of teachers' pensions. If you haven't already done so, please contact your MP via the NUT website here and personalise your message to highlight the impact the Government's proposed changes would have on you as a student teacher.
For further information, including answers to frequently asked questions about the strike, check out our website www.teachers.org.uk/pensions. Please contact your associaiton/division if you have any further questions. For the latest news on the campaign follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/NUTonline.

With best wishes Christine blower

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Jun 26 2011 16:00
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Is Snowball Tacks? Dundee?

No. Another Scottish (I believe) L&S member tho.

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Jun 26 2011 20:13

Snowball:

‘I would want to caution people that they would be breaking the law and could be fired without recourse before asking them to do this!’

In a later post:

‘I had been informed that this was the case by a PCS full-timer a while back but turns out they were wrong’

This incorrect ‘advice’ of the full-time PCS union bureaucrat can be read as an attempt to channel militant action back through the union. It’s surely just a form of scare mongering — don’t act outside the union — you’ll get sacked!

And the L&S anarchist swallowed, hook line and sinker until another poster, Dead End sowed the seeds of doubt. Then Snowball had to actually check-out some Trade Union and Labour Relations Act.

I doubt if the experience will convince Snowball to take another look at any of the communist critiques of the role of unions and their officials.

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 27 2011 13:42
Steven. wrote:
Quite hilariously, Snowball has now posted this:

well fair play to him for admitting he was wrong on the internet, which is a rare ability. but yeah it is worrying that union bureaucrats are considered authority figures while anarchists with combined decades of trade union experience are dismissed as dogmatic ultra-left ideologues detached from the real world etc etc.