Symbolic protest or fight to win? Statement from the Anarchist Federation on #N30

Symbolic protest or fight to win? Statement from the Anarchist Federation on #N30

The November 30th strike is undoubtedly the most widespread strike action for years. With 24 public sector unions all striking on the same day, it is very welcome to see unions finally taking concerted action in this way.

However, it's also worth remembering that it will require much more than one day strikes to be sure of a real victory and today’s action will definitely need to be built on. But whether the trade unions are capable of doing this, especially given the weak, legalistic tactics unions are so entrenched in, is doubtful.

But aren’t the unions’ tactics already having an effect?
True, there has been some movement from the government and employers in response to positive strike ballots but this is just conciliatory noises, a ploy to make the unions look inflexible while obscuring the fact that the government and employers are actually offering us nothing. The trade unions long ago surrendered to anti-union legislation and other oppressive employment laws and have got so used to doing everything ‘through the proper legal channels’ that they are now incapable of properly fighting to win.

But it makes no sense to do everything to the letter of the law because these laws were enacted specifically to hamstring effective industrial action.

If we want to be sure of a real victory, then we’ll need to:

  • Intensify strike action in spite of the anti-trade union laws and the reluctance of union high-ups to engage in action beyond anything purely symbolic
  • Spread the dispute – it’s essential that we take our struggle beyond the single issue of pensions. The way the unions have mobilised makes it seem as though it is indeed our pensions that are the central concern. This is far from the truth. The point is to show that workers reject the idea that we all have to make ‘sacrifices’ and to do so in solidarity with the whole working class, including unwaged people and service users. We cannot unite with the rest of the working class on the basis of a one-day strike over public sector pensions.
  • Unite with other workers – that means broadening our aims to include private sector workers over a range of issues other than pensions.
  • Go wildcat – in recent years, a number of disputes have by-passed trade union bureaucrats and we have seen a rise in forms of direct action that defy the unions’ reluctance to defy the law. From wildcat strikes to workplace occupations, from blockades to technically unlawful secondary action, we have seen workers’ refusal to submit being expressed in ways that the state and the employers have not been able to stifle.
  • Establish local strike committees between workers from different unions and workplaces – controlled from below rather than by union bureaucrats above.
  • Link up with activists in the UnCut and Occupy movements. It is 12 years since the famous N30 demonstration against the G-20 in Seattle. Since then, the global ‘anti-capitalist’ movement has pushed for fundamental social change. Such newer, international forms of protest should increasingly embrace workers’ interests explicitly too..

What we in the Anarchist Federation are talking about is not only winning this particular dispute but also building an effective, militant and autonomous workers' movement that will set us up for future battles and future victories.

Meanwhile, the best way to guarantee any degree of success over pensions, privatisation, attacks on services, attacks on any section of the working class, is to make this strike as strong and effective as we can, to widen the issues and spread the dispute to other sectors.

So let's get to it and fight to win!

Posted By

Ramona
Nov 24 2011 21:52

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Comments

Serge Forward
Nov 25 2011 08:24

That was a draft of the leaflet text. I've submitted the amended text. So if you can change it to that, that'd be dead good.

lettersjournal
Dec 12 2011 05:44
Quote:
With 24 public sector unions all striking on the same day, it is very welcome to see unions finally taking concerted action in this way.

No, it is not welcome to see unions doing anything. N30 was a unionist farce and should not even be called a strike.

Let's pretend the participants in N30 'fought to win' and actually 'won'. What would they win and what would this have to do with communism or anarchy?

Quote:
Meanwhile, the best way to guarantee any degree of success over pensions, privatisation, attacks on services, attacks on any section of the working class, is to make this strike as strong and effective as we can, to widen the issues and spread the dispute to other sectors.

Making the N30 symbolic day of action stronger would mean strengthening the political position of the unions. How would this help the working class?

Does success over privitisation mean nationalisation? Does success over attacks on services mean the increasing of govt services?

Do you want a return to the 1970s?

lettersjournal
Dec 12 2011 05:49
Quote:
Link up with activists in the UnCut and Occupy movements. It is 12 years since the famous N30 demonstration against the G-20 in Seattle. Since then, the global ‘anti-capitalist’ movement has pushed for fundamental social change. Such newer, international forms of protest should increasingly embrace workers’ interests explicitly too.

If these "newer, international forms of protest" have not already embraced workers' interests (which ostensibly are stronger unions, nationalisation, more govt services, changing of strike laws, keeping pensions the same [I disagree with this list, obviously, but I'm working with the pamphlet]), why should workers be bothered to link up with protests that won't even 'support' them symbolically.

Curious that the Anarchist Federation does not address the issue of how N30 does or does not contribute to their goal of anarchy/communism.

Ellar
Dec 12 2011 08:58

wall