Prison plumbers in anarcho organisations

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Fall Back
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Oct 2 2006 09:47
Prison plumbers in anarcho organisations

Okay, so leaving aside the whether it happened or not...

What's so bad about this? So they work in a prison - but they're a fucking plumber, what the fuck is the problem with them joining a syndicalist union?

They're no more responsible for the running of prisons than workers in an arms factory are for war.

What is it exactly that makes it such a huge deal?

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Oct 2 2006 09:52
Jack wrote:
They're no more responsible for the running of prisons than workers in an arms factory are for war.

tongue

yeah, i don't see what the problem is, you might as well say that workers in general work for the capitalist machine, so they can't be anticapitalists, or for that matter that personal hygeine valourises capital and should be eliminated grin

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Oct 2 2006 10:09

was thinking about this the other day, and i think there are cultural issues (and then monkey see, monkey do issues) at play here.

For spaniards it sounds logical to be really cross at anything related to prisons duie to fresh memories of Francos rule. But how far do you take it - bakery which delivers to a prison? Many of the social workers and plumbers work in other areas on top of the prison work as well and are outsourced to outside contractors.

Same goes for the strippers in sweden - culturally very different background and it is lazy and dishonest to jump the gun on these issues without understanding what are the issues at play.

UK anarchist movement should make its own political analysis and draw their own lines instead of just copying them from abroad.

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Oct 2 2006 10:17

I thought the CGT didn't allow prison civilians to join because of the smears that they unionised prison guards they just didn't let any prison worker join.

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Oct 2 2006 10:23

its not that simple though - look at the mathematics: CNT has about 5k members, CGT about 60k, probably there are numerically multiple times more committed anarchist libertarian communists in CGT than in CNT, so i dont think CGT needed any "external" smear or pressure since it has plenty inside.

I would not be suprised though once the franco wounds heal that this position is revisited. At least to me it doesn't make any sense...

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Oct 2 2006 10:29
JDMF wrote:
probably there are numerically multiple times more committed anarchist libertarian communists in CGT than in CNT

Hmmm I wouldn't be so sure about that. otherwise I very much doubt they'd stand in works council elections.

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Oct 2 2006 10:49

wanted to just respond "bollocks" to John.s contribution, but that would just take this thread downhill...

Salvoechea
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Oct 2 2006 12:30

The whole story is even better. It was a few years ago in Almeria (Andalusia, south spain)... In the local prison was an anarchist prisioner called J.J. Garfia. His girlfriend managed to work inside the prision as a nurse. Well, i don't remember if they got married inside the prision or outside. The fact was that her job was as crappy and lowpaid as jobs outside prisions. And she joined CGT. Some time later another doctor joined, and later a plumber or an electrician...

I don't remember if the union was big, I don't think so (5? 10? as most). However, other CGT unions began to complain. And as the union didn't explained the case well, roumors grew fast and wild. So, some people in CNT began to spread this rumors even more, exaggerating the facts.

The whole thing ended in a congress, where they decided that this unionize in "repressive" jobs could not join, which is in the statutes. And this people were expelled (with those cops in catalonia).

So, the whole scandal was out of a group of 5-10 ppl in an organization of 30,000 (in those days).

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Oct 2 2006 13:16
JDMF wrote:
wanted to just respond "bollocks" to John.s contribution, but that would just take this thread downhill...

Bollocks about my estimates of numbers, or that the works councils are anti-working class? Don't wanna derail, but if you disagree with the latter we need to start a new thread about it...

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Oct 2 2006 13:46

latter, and while you are at it, also make your arguments about how if you are a shop steward you cant be an anarchist as well.

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Oct 2 2006 14:03
JDMF wrote:
latter, and while you are at it, also make your arguments about how if you are a shop steward you cant be an anarchist as well.

Done. Thread here. I never said anything like that about shop stewards though.

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Oct 2 2006 17:47
Salvoechea wrote:
The whole thing ended in a congress, where they decided that this unionize in "repressive" jobs could not join, which is in the statutes. And this people were expelled (with those cops in catalonia).

So, the whole scandal was out of a group of 5-10 ppl in an organization of 30,000 (in those days).

In addition to the prison workers, there was also a local union of private security guards that were expelled. Personally, I don't have a problem with organizing prison plumbers, but I'm more sceptic to security guards.

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Oct 2 2006 18:44

i am not sceptic of security guards being in A-S union at all. Private security is a quickly growing industry employing more and more workers and often on very bad conditions and wage.

The workers council set up by anarchists in south africa was among security guards by the way.

rata
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Oct 2 2006 19:24
Jack wrote:
What's so bad about this? So they work in a prison - but they're a fucking plumber, what the fuck is the problem with them joining a syndicalist union?

Just few things that could be interesting for this discussion.

First a historical note: before the Spanish revolution CNT workers were refusing to build prisons, so Spanish authorities had to bring workers from other countries to do the job - that much about the tradition and a size of discrepancy between anarcho-syndicalists and reformists.

The questions is - yes, he is only a plumber (or cleaner, or whatever) - but, as for everything in society, things are not separated. His working place is prison. He is, if organized in anarcho-syndicate, organizing with all other workers on that working place - in this case - prison. Since, one of our basic premises is that all the workers in one workingplace have same interest - taking over that workingplace. To say that somebody who is maintaining the prison infrastructure could be anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist is ludicrous. To think that prisons should be takeover and self-managed is even crazier.

The story about anarchist working there to help the comrades is just bullocks. If you are intending to help somebody by infiltrating some repressive place, you are, sure as hell, not going to say openly - hey, I'm an anarchist. I don't have problem with anarchist being infiltrated in different State apparatuses, but than you are hiding that fact, you are not labeling yourself openly as anarchist, and definitely you are not organizing an anarcho-syndicalist union. That is if your intention is to help your comrade, or to do whatever you infiltrated a place for. Does anybody really believe that somebody organized in an anarcho-syndicalist union in prison would be able to communicate and help an anarchist prisoner. It is obvious some people here are living out side of reality.

rata
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Oct 2 2006 19:29
Salvoechea wrote:
The whole thing ended in a congress, where they decided that this unionize in "repressive" jobs could not join, which is in the statutes. And this people were expelled (with those cops in catalonia).

Which cops? Ones from the previous thread that were never members of CGT?

martinh
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Oct 2 2006 19:52

Personally i think the CGT threw the baby out with the bathwater on this one, but I don't think they had any choice given that they participate in the union elections. The logic of these is that there are slates in state sectors, including prisons, to be on the works councils. Therefore, they would end up running candidates in the prison sector. I think it is untenable once you have followed that logic.

regards,

Martin

Mike Harman
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Oct 2 2006 20:50
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Since, one of our basic premises is that all the workers in one workingplace have same interest - taking over that workingplace. To say that somebody who is maintaining the prison infrastructure could be anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist is ludicrous. To think that prisons should be takeover and self-managed is even crazier.

So how about cleaners in insurance companies, stock trading floors, call centre workers? Taking over and self-managing those workplaces would also be a bit crazy but I assume they aren't barred?

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Oct 2 2006 21:21
rata wrote:
The questions is - yes, he is only a plumber (or cleaner, or whatever) - but, as for everything in society, things are not separated. His working place is prison. He is, if organized in anarcho-syndicate, organizing with all other workers on that working place - in this case - prison. Since, one of our basic premises is that all the workers in one workingplace have same interest - taking over that workingplace. To say that somebody who is maintaining the prison infrastructure could be anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist is ludicrous. To think that prisons should be takeover and self-managed is even crazier.

hey wait a minute! Didn't you just accuse SAC for all kinds because they didn't want to organise strippers for this very same reason? Or is sexism and violent attitudes against women not as ludicrous? Can you explain the difference please.

But other than that, its good to see you defend CGTs position wink

rata
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Oct 2 2006 23:30
Mike Harman wrote:
So how about cleaners in insurance companies, stock trading floors, call centre workers? Taking over and self-managing those workplaces would also be a bit crazy but I assume they aren't barred?

There is no way of comparing those places to prison. I agree that self-managing of majority of those places would pointless, but you just can not compare the two.

I really don't know, it would probably need a case-to-case discussion, since they are not clear cut cases such as working in prison.

JDMF wrote:
hey wait a minute! Didn't you just accuse SAC for all kinds because they didn't want to organise strippers for this very same reason? Or is sexism and violent attitudes against women not as ludicrous? Can you explain the difference please.

No, but I don't see a problem with sex industry when it is non-wanted violence free.

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Oct 2 2006 23:32

Actually, the strippers who wanted to join SAC were already self-managing their own workplace - they had organized a strip club as a workers co-op.

At least one of them finally got admitted as a member, because she also had a part time job as a nurse, or something, but were fired because of her public stand regarding sex-work. Even then, she was only admitted to SAC with a slim majority at the local branch meeting, and several members transfered their membership to nearby locals in protest.

One of the requirements of an industrial union in the prison sector would of course be that they also admit the prisoners as members. Now, there is really a growing sector of workers with very bad conditions and wage.

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Oct 3 2006 00:55

Just as in Spain, a fair number of building workers in the UK, until the late 70s at least, used to refuse to work on building prisons as a simple act of class solidarity - it hardly needs much explanation on that basis, surely?

Most people who had experience of prison, personally or via close acquaintances, might well understandably feel the same way. For those with strong feelings on the subject, it is usually something more than just an abstract ethical/political policy decision.

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Oct 3 2006 08:11
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To think that prisons should be takeover and self-managed is even crazier.

Why? Surely the prison workers are in the best position to decide what relationship between prison guards and prisoner's is best conducive to prisoner comfort, day to day life, and rehabilitation. Dosn't the fact that they wish to join an anrcho-union presuppose the fact that they are in the main critical of detention institutions but are just trying to pay the bills? What of people who are put off by the job and subsequently turn to radical politics as a result? Surely we want such people on side.

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One of the requirements of an industrial union in the prison sector would of course be that they also admit the prisoners as members. Now, there is really a growing sector of workers with very bad conditions and wage.

Exactly. More to the point, prisoners would have a say on which guards can join, ie. which are screws and which are OK ppl just doing their job. I had heaps of trouble with the police as a kid and in my experience 5 out of 10 are OK and you can talk to them. If its the same inside real gains can be made for both parties if they communicate.

To exclude plumbers and nurses who work at prisons is to me absolutely ludicrous.

rata
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Oct 3 2006 09:01
jason wrote:
Why? Surely the prison workers are in the best position to decide what relationship between prison guards and prisoner's is best conducive to prisoner comfort, day to day life, and rehabilitation. Dosn't the fact that they wish to join an anrcho-union presuppose the fact that they are in the main critical of detention institutions but are just trying to pay the bills? What of people who are put off by the job and subsequently turn to radical politics as a result? Surely we want such people on side.

Exactly. More to the point, prisoners would have a say on which guards can join, ie. which are screws and which are OK ppl just doing their job. I had heaps of trouble with the police as a kid and in my experience 5 out of 10 are OK and you can talk to them. If its the same inside real gains can be made for both parties if they communicate.

To exclude plumbers and nurses who work at prisons is to me absolutely ludicrous.

Well I guess you haven't been to prison. I guess that is the explanation behind anybody here questioning the idea that prison workers shouldn't be allowed in anarcho-syndicalist unions. The whole concept of unions having prisoners and workers together is soooo crazy that I don't know what to say. Is any of you aware of the situation in prisons?? Does any of you know how much communication is possible between prisoners and prison workers who are not guards? Stop talking nonsense please, it is becoming idiotic. People just doing their job - that is what the Nazis have said - exactly. It is the job which is the problem, not the way they are doing it. And I propose to you to go and have fun with those 5 out of 10 cops that you find "OK". Are you crazy?? Talking on the anarchist about "OK" cops?? Is there any moderation around - these things are offensive to all of us who were victims of police crimes, as well as to all of us who had to spend time in the jail.

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Oct 3 2006 09:15

or soldiers?

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Oct 3 2006 09:28

or social workers? how about those of us who have been fucked about by social workers?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 3 2006 09:41
JDMF wrote:
or social workers? how about those of us who have been fucked about by social workers?

Or dole office workers.

Personally I don't think you can make hard and fast distinctions. Some people might be in the prison service because that's the only shit job they could get. IN general, of course, most screws are scum and most prisons are hell holes.

However, just because a workers' controlled prison is ludicrous doesn't mean that anarcho organising is pointless there. Think about all the other pointless (telesales) and harmful (chemical factory) workplaces that will be abolished 'under workers' control'. IMO organising using direct action is one way for the workers to participate in the general struggle to get rid of such places, as part of winning concrete benefits now, as part of a general transformation.

Prisoners' interests are wildly divergant from those of screws, but so are childrens' interests from teachers, and I'd still advicate teachers organising.

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Oct 3 2006 09:41
rata wrote:
I really don't know, it would probably need a case-to-case discussion, since they are not clear cut cases such as working in prison.

As no one else has asked I will.

Rata how about workers in police stations - should the same rule apply?

Because according to martinh in the send post at http://libcom.org/forums/thought/kras-syndicalism-discussion?page=8

martinh wrote:
the CGT are actually tougher on workers in prisons and police than the CNT. After all the criticism of the plumber and teacher in the prisons sector who joined CGT, they barred anyone in the sector. AFAIK CNT has no such ban on such workers and I know of one local who had a member who was a cleaner at a police station.

I suspect you simply use such issues as a way of avoiding having to engage with real critiques of organisations you don't like. But maybe I'm wrong. What do you have to say about the alleged case above, you have ignored it on the other thread which is very odd given your obsession on this subject.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 3 2006 09:48
Jack wrote:
Since, one of our basic premises is that all the workers in one workingplace have same interest - taking over that workingplace.

All workplaces? Are you saying that anarchosyndicalism is only suitable for people in socially useful jobs?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 3 2006 09:53
Jack wrote:
read rata's post that JoeBlack was taking to task.

And?

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Oct 3 2006 11:29
rata wrote:
The whole concept of unions having prisoners and workers together is soooo crazy that I don't know what to say. Is any of you aware of the situation in prisons?? Does any of you know how much communication is possible between prisoners and prison workers who are not guards?

That varies a lot from prison to prison and country to country. Prisons in Spain are different than prisons in Thailand. Of course, prisoners is one of the groups that are most difficult to organize. There have been some attempts in the past, but I'm not aware of any being very sucsessful.

I also think it makes much more sense to ban security guards from a-s unions, than prison plumbers. Security guards perform many of the same repressive functions as the police, while the prison plumber just fixes the toilets.

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Oct 3 2006 12:02

The liberalism expressed on this thread is amazing - the idea that screws are just fellow workers in uniform is something I doubt you could sustain if you were doing time or had done some - unless, maybe, you ended up being a 'trusty'/lackey. The idea that people are economically forced to do repressive jobs is an entirely dubious argument in this case - are yous saying you might someday become 'anarchist' cops or screws and still participate in this website, for example, as 'comrades'? - if so, you're fucking nuts.
I think the cold rationality of your justifications is a symptom of a more general decline in basic class consciousness. These forces of the state can spy on you, kick the shit out of you, lock you up, kill you - but we should still be trying to organise with them as radicals?! - get real.