Wildcat strikes in Belgium

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Richard 1917
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May 28 2016 20:50
Wildcat strikes in Belgium

More than one month of strike by the prison guards.
Already three days of wildcat strike by the railways workers.
And tomorrow maybe postmen will also start.
Worker anger is definitely growing next to that of workers in France...

Here's the translation of a small leaflet distributed these last days against capital and unions and far-left parties:

"Let's extend the strikes to all sectors, in an unlimited way, till the end
No demand could never contain nor satisfy our thirst for life
Let's impose our human needs against the law of profit, profitability, and capitalism
Against all sacrifices, let's sabotage the national economy
We have suffered too much in this world of misery, war and death
We are nothing, let's be everything
Let's build the international organization of proletarians in struggle"

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rat
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May 29 2016 12:34

Let's hope that strikes and protests spread.

We really could not give a flying fuck about any prison guards though.

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Red Marriott
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May 29 2016 12:55
rat wrote:
We really could not give a flying fuck about any prison guards though.

Well, if this old thread is anything to go by, unfortunately some might;
http://libcom.org/forums/news/prison-officers-unofficial-action-spreads-...

Gnat60
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May 29 2016 13:03

Great news that workers are striking against austerity in Belgium as well as France. Lets hope that they make some attempt to both link up their struggles also to begining to struggle against their various trade unions who will only sabotage their strikes by limiting them to token or protest actions.

Also as the depth of the capitalist crisis makes itself felt there is signs of a global upsurge in class struggle be it in the USA, UK, France, Belgium, Nigeria, Venezuela etc. While this remains on the terrain of defensive strikes I just hope that it can develop into full blown political strikes that makes our power felt through workers councils free from reformism.

Richard 1917
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Jun 1 2016 15:27

Strikes continue and increase in Belgium.
Already 7th day of strike by railway workers.
At the beginning it was wildcat strike, now it's recognized and "supported" by unions.
May 31st there were unionist demonstrations all over the country combined with one-day general strike in public sector.
But some proles (bus drivers, etc.) decided to continue these next days.
Prison guards continue also (already 36 days of strike) although 4 unions on 6 signed an agreement with the government for some small reforms. Two other unions refused to resume work and they "represent" around 90% of the workers.
General assemblies of prison guards refuse to give up the strike and many seem determined to go till the end ("au finish!" as they say).
A woman prison guard striker said on television something like: "I'm proud to strike and refuse to resume work in this society where human beings are considered as animals."
Lot of things could and can be said about "prison guards" (like cops and military, etc.), and indeed it's a disgusting job, guarding and locking humans in prison. Down with prisons, let's burn all of them!
But what about factory workers who produce on assembly lines guns and weapons that will be used for killing other humans at war, during repression of demos?
What about workers who produce commodities and values for capital and therefore reproduce in some extent this commodity society and its social peace?
What imports the most is not what's your place in the productive work but how you oppose and struggle for class interests.
More info latter...
Sam Fanto, could you translate in English some info about these struggles?
Ciao.

Richard 1917
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Jun 3 2016 15:38

Several acts of sabotage on the railway network in Wallonia

Belga
Published Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 12:03

Six acts of sabotage have been recorded since 6:00 Wednesday; some were still ongoing about 10:00 am in many places of the Walloon railway network, said a spokesman for the infrastructure manager Infrabel, which condemns the facts.

They occur as the rail strike continues. These acts were particularly alert firecrackers placed on the tracks, which automatically engage the emergency brake, said Infrabel, and a red flag on the tracks, which also engages the brake. Short-circuits have also been caused to jam the signals.

These facts were noted in Flawinne, Ronse, Waterloo, Châtelet and La Louvière South, “where strikers were also reported on the tracks.” Infrabel considers these acts as “irresponsible and outrageous” and “reserves the right to prosecute those who put people’s lives in danger.” “There already have been casualties during an emergency braking,” adds Infrabel.

Source in French: http://www.rtbf.be/info/regions/detail_plusieurs-actes-de-sabotage-sur-le-reseau-ferroviaire-en-wallonie?id=9313457

VIDEO
Infrabel: sabotage on the tracks
http://www.rtbf.be/auvio/detail_infrabel-sabotages-sur-les-voies?id=2115106

Richard 1917
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Jun 7 2016 10:05

Strike at the SNCB: Infrabel denounces a “serious” sabotage in Mons

RTBF with Belga
Published Friday, June 3, 2016 at 15:29

A “serious” sabotage was recorded this Friday on the rail network in Mons, while the strike movement continues at the SNCB, laments Infrabel. It could have caused the derailment of a train, says the manager of the railway infrastructure.

Control cables were deliberately severed in Mons, resulting in loss of control of a switch. “This causes risk of derailment but fortunately no train was running at that point,” says Arnaud Reymann, spokesman for Infrabel. The problem was quickly detected and the switch repaired by a technical team referral early on in the afternoon.

Infrabel has decided to complain.

Friday morning, a traffic sign indicating an end of the course was also removed in Statte in the province of Liège, and resulted in the degradation of a catenary as a train was performing a maneuver. “We suspect a malicious act that will require repairs,” adds Arnaud Reymann.

Several acts of sabotage were reported on the Walloon railway network since the beginning of the strike on the railways, which began on 25 May.

Source in French: https://www.rtbf.be/info/regions/detail_greve-a-la-sncb-infrabel-denonce-un-acte-de-sabotage-grave-a-mons?id=9315831

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Jun 7 2016 10:06

Richard, if you wanted to write this up into a short article for our news section that would be amazing! As that would get a much bigger readership

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Jun 7 2016 10:58
Richard wrote:
Lot of things could and can be said about "prison guards" (like cops and military, etc.), and indeed it's a disgusting job, guarding and locking humans in prison. Down with prisons, let's burn all of them!
But what about factory workers who produce on assembly lines guns and weapons that will be used for killing other humans at war, during repression of demos?
What about workers who produce commodities and values for capital and therefore reproduce in some extent this commodity society and its social peace?
What imports the most is not what's your place in the productive work but how you oppose and struggle for class interests.

If want some possible answers I suggest you read the thread I linked to earlier; http://libcom.org/forums/news/prison-officers-unofficial-action-spreads-...

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Jun 7 2016 14:15
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We really could not give a flying fuck about any prison guards though.

And psychiatric nurses, school teachers, parking attendants, park wardens...? All agents of social control, but simultaneously wage workers.

Richard 1917
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Jun 7 2016 18:39

Hi Steven,
Thanx for your encouragements but I’ve absolutely no time to do more about this issue. BTW the strike movement begins somehow to decrease for the moment.

After nine days of “wildcat” strike (i.e. a wave of strike which started “spontaneously” and especially outside of the unionist agenda) in the railway sector, touching mainly the south part of the country, the unions called the strikers to resume work under the threat of being sacked because of “unjustified absence”.

A “notice of strike action” has been given by the unions for next week. The unions expect this way to better frame and contain their “rank and file” and the strike to therefore correspond better to the unionist agenda.

Prison guard’s strike still continues and entered its sixth week despite an agreement with four unions on six (three in Flanders which didn’t take part to the strike, plus the liberal union which lots of members resign from). Strikers seem to be determined to fight “to the finish”, as they say, despite a new round of negotiation with the Minister of Justice.

Several other sectors are also striking and making troubles: trucks drivers are this week blocking main roads; garbage men are also striking since one week especially in the region of Mons-Borinage where garbage are piling up in the streets (some days ago they also blocked main roads and highways with their trucks), today in a general assembly garbage men decided to prolong the strike; police intervened to remove the blockade of the last depot of busses in Charleroi blocked by strikers since one week (strike has been followed in many places with the most combative bus drivers in Liège, Charleroi, Mons); some teachers will also strike today and tomorrow, etc.

The situation is obviously not (yet) insurrectional but the “Belgian social model” (made of negotiation and dialogue in order to better maintain social peace of business) seems to be somehow shaken by the necessity for the bourgeoisie to pressurize always more the proletariat (the variable capital) and impose thus more austerity measures to save its social system and relation…

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Steven.
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Jun 7 2016 20:50

Thanks very much for the update

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Jun 7 2016 21:03

Steven, why did you 'down' my comment?

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 7 2016 21:04

it wasn't steven it was me, because you are talking shit

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Jun 7 2016 21:11

So say so! It is more social.

When I was inside, the cons and remands were definitely my friends but the screws were not my enemies.

S. Artesian
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Jun 7 2016 21:43

Cutting control cables, or the "return cables" to a power thrown remotely-controlled switch should not endanger any train. The switch is locked in either the "normal" position, with the points lined for the "usual" route, or locked in the "reverse" position, lined for a diverging route. In either case, the locking requires power to unlock the switch and move the points. Consequently, broken or cut power cables only mean the switch cannot be moved.

If SNCB has a system where removal of power allows the switch points to "float"-- or center between the normal and the reverse positions, then the SNCB system is unsafe and simply shouldn't be allowed to operate.

If the switch is part of an interlocking-- a series of switches and signals where the lining of conflicting routes is eliminated through electric and mechanical locking of switches and locking out of other switches that conflict with the route selected-- the absence of power to a switch will be immediately registered in the interlocking. If SNCB has power thrown switches on its main lines that are not part of interlockings-- see previous remarks about unsafe systems.

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 7 2016 22:54
Schmoopie wrote:
So say so! It is more social.

When I was inside, the cons and remands were definitely my friends but the screws were not my enemies.

really? so they didn't do anything to stop people leaving anytime they felt like it? you and everyone one else was just their for a holiday?

edit: this is not the proper thread for this

admin: that is correct. Anyone who wants to discuss the class nature of prison guards should start a new thread (as that would make more sense than resurrecting the old one)

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Jun 8 2016 15:58
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Striking prison warders burst into the Belgian Justice Ministry building on Tuesday, breaking windows and trashing fittings before being forced out by baton-wielding riot police firing pepper spray.

Several dozen protesters, some covering their faces with scarves, broke through the main door of the building in Brussels during a trade union demonstration on the street outside. They chanted and waved banners before scuffling with helmeted riot police who arrived to eject them.

"The protesters caused a lot of damage," said Justice Minister Koen Geens, a main target for the warders' anger after three weeks of strike action. "This is not right."

However, he agreed to more talks with the unions in a bid to end action that has already forced the government to send in troops to help run understaffed jails after legal complaints from prisoners that they are being denied basic amenities.

At a time when the centre-right coalition is under pressure over a lack of funding for security services which failed to prevent a Belgian-based Islamic State cell mounting the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, critics say overcrowded prisons are another symptom of excessive cost-cutting and inefficiency.

The country's most senior judge waded into the debate on Sunday when he declared on television that a lack of budget for the justice system meant Belgium was "becoming a rogue state".

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-belgium-prisons-idUKKCN0Y8127

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Jun 8 2016 16:55
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admin: ... Anyone who wants to discuss the class nature of prison guards should start a new thread (as that would make more sense than resurrecting the old one)

Rather than having the same old arguments repeated it might make more sense to resurrect the old one and those interested can read what was said so far and carry on from there.

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Jun 9 2016 08:54
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Rather than having the same old arguments repeated it might make more sense to resurrect the old one and those interested can read what was said so far and carry on from there.

Already done it Red. Thanks for pointer.

http://libcom.org/forums/news/prison-officers-unofficial-action-spreads-...

Richard 1917
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Jun 18 2016 16:28

About the strike of prison guards:
The proletariat has to be defined neither sociologically nor ideologically but through its practice, i.e. its struggling practice. And even policemen, military, prison guards are not outside of these contradictions: on one hand wage workers who are supposed to work and produce, which can also mean to repress other workers and defend the ruling class and its ideology, on the other hand alienated beings, who sell their labor force and are robbed of the surplus value and more abstractly also of the real life. That is the reason why even policemen strike has to be supported when they riot against their "colleagues" as some did in Bolivia 2003, where they took their weapons and equipment and joined other rebellious proletarians and had to be suppressed by special units loyal to the state.

For now the unions succeeded in defusing the dynamics by railway workers (who will not strike), prison guards (who nearly all of them resumed work) and garbage men (who stopped also their movement)...

And moreover Belgian "Red Devils" football team won over Ireland in the Euro Cup...
Belgian government, bourgeoisie and capitalists can only smile and be happy that "the mob" prefer to express their nationalist, patriotic, chauvinist mood and behavior rather than to struggle...

Richard 1917
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Jun 18 2016 16:34

Here are also three small articles from the mainstream Belgian media I translated for you about the struggle in and outside prison in May: a strong mutiny organized by prisoners in a jail in Flanders (where the guards are not striking) and a demonstration of guards who smashed the doors of the Federal Ministry of Justice and invaded the Ministry.

RIOT IN MERKSPLAS PRISON: 53 DETAINEES TRANSFERRED TO OTHER PRISONS

RTBF with Belga
Published Saturday, May 7, 2016 – Updated Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 2:18pm

For now, 53 detainees were transferred to another prison after the uprising Saturday in Merksplas prison. Later in the day, 45 more will follow.

The uprising began on Saturday around 5:30pm, while 170 detainees did not want to return to their cells after the walk in the evening. “Police have been called to provide assistance.”

Around 8:30pm, one sets fire in different places. “With the support of the police, Red Cross, firefighters and civil protection, the staff and management have tried to stabilize the situation.”

Several areas of the prison are temporarily out of use; the transfer of detainees to other prisons in Flanders began around 4:00am Sunday. Fifty-three prisoners have been transferred with the help of the police. It will be the same for 45 more during the day.

Broken glass and damages caused by the fire and smoke are visible. Two pavilions housing usually 120 detainees are still held by the firefighters. The damages in the kitchen caused a water cutoff.

Two officers were injured by glass. Two inmates were also hospitalized.

Source in French: http://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_soulevement-dans-la-prison-de-merksplas?id=9292023

OVERCROWDING IN JAILS: NEW FITS OF BAD TEMPER IN THE MERKSPLAS PRISON

Belga News
Published Monday, May 9, 2016 at 12:33

The Merksplas prison was again in trouble on Monday after the uprising of 170 inmates who set fire to several places and destroyed equipment during the night of Saturday to Sunday. Several detainees, some of whom were not involved in the movement of the weekend, expressed their dissatisfaction with the resulting overpopulation. Some 150 cells were damaged and are unusable.

“The police are always present to ensure that the prison is under control,” said the mayor. “The situation does not seem to be poised to escalate.”

One hundred prisoners were transferred to other prisons, but others had to be placed in the cells of Merksplas. “This cannot last. Some cells are more than full and those which are damaged will be unavailable for some time. In addition, the courtyard is now unusable,” said the mayor.

According to him, a lasting solution is needed, as the transfer of inmates to the Tilburg prison in the Netherlands.

Source in French: http://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_surpopulation-carcerale-nouveaux-mouvements-d-humeur-a-la-prison-de-merksplas?id=9293104

PRISON OFFICERS STORMED THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, WATER CANNONS IN ACTION IN SAINT-GILLES

Sandro Faes
Published Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Updated Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 4:32pm

While the Minister Koen Geens is still trying to find solutions for the implementation of his Justice Plan, hundreds of protesters gathered in union delegation to protest against the current situation in prisons, smashed the doors of the Federal Ministry of Justice and invaded the Ministry before moving in various parts of Brussels where other incidents occurred.

“We do not want to submit, we are not slaves”

Shouting “We will not give in” the demonstrators arrived in front of the Federal Ministry of Justice located on Waterloo Boulevard around 10am. Half an hour later, by dint of hammering at the front door, some prison officers have managed to break the windows.

Taking advantage of the opening of the door, dozens of militants then stepped into the building. Policemen entered through another door and managed to dislodge them after about twenty minutes. Their intervention, using batons and tear gas, caused quite a stir among the demonstrators as explained by Federal Secretary of the union CGSP prisons: “It was not inevitable. I put myself at the door as I could with my colleagues who acted as team of stewards. I nevertheless asked for the police requests to be respected, but some a little more excited than others have decided otherwise, I am sorry but people are at the end of their patience.”

Twenty-two days after going on strike, prison officers seem in any case determined to not give up: “We do not want to submit, we are not slaves, we want decent working conditions but also decent conditions for inmates,” recalled several militants present in the procession.

Koen Geens outraged by this “invasion”

For his part, the Minister of Justice expressed “his great indignation faced with the senseless violence that was used at the time of the preparation of the interview he had agreed with the delegation of prison officers.” He also regretted the destruction caused.

If the Minister considers as “serious” what happened, he emphasized that it would not influence the negotiations. “I do not consider the unions to be responsible for what happened. I want a constructive dialogue and I am determined to carry out prison reforms I promised to do together with the government and parliament and in consultation with the unions.”

Water cannons in action in Saint-Gilles, others on duty in front of the Palace of Justice

Nearly one thousand of demonstrators then headed for the headquarters of the MR [the PM’s party] where they already expressed their anger earlier in the morning, but also for the Palace of Justice, where water cannons were dispatched. Access to the tunnel of Porte de Hal was also partially blocked for an hour.

Another part of the procession relocated between the two prisons of Forest and Saint-Gilles where water cannons had to go into action twice to disperse some 700 angry demonstrators. The police helicopter was also called in as reinforcement. As for the motivations of those present people here too the prevailing malaise seems to be the reason given as explained by Daniel, one of the guards present: “We are about sixty from the prison of Marche-en-Famenne who came at the Saint-Gilles prison. I was afraid it gets out of hand because indeed the agents can’t stand it any longer. I have 30 years of career and I never saw that. By dint of being rejected by some parts of the political world, we reach that stage. I am disgusted by this political world that has let the situation deteriorate.” It’s finally just before 2pm that the situation has returned to normality.

Earlier in the morning, the unions arrived peacefully in front of the cabinet.

VIDEO
Protest unions prisons: it gets out of hand
http://www.rtbf.be/auvio/detail_manif-syndicats-prisons-ca-degenere?id=2110467

Source in French: http://www.rtbf.be/info/belgique/detail_les-gardiens-de-prison-en-colere-enfoncent-les-portes-du-cabinet-de-koen-geens?id=9299871

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jef costello
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Jun 18 2016 19:02

Thanks Richard