XXV Congress of the AIT-IWA

XXV Congress of the IWA, XXV Congreso de la AIT

From December 6-8, 2013, the XXV AIT-IWA Congress took place in Valencia, Spain. Around 150 people took part in the Congress, with delegates coming from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Serbia, Poland, Russia and Slovakia.

From December 6-8, 2013, the XXV AIT-IWA Congress took place in Valencia, Spain. Around 150 people took part in the Congress, with delegates coming from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Serbia, Poland, Russia and Slovakia. Observers also came from the FIJL – the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth.

Towards the beginning of the Congress, we welcomed new organizations to the IWA: the Autonomous Workers' Union of Bulgaria and the FAS from Austria. The status of the Australian Section was also settled. With these new organizations welcomed to the International, we proceeded with a long list of internal and practical issues.

One project approved will encourage the creation of branch networks in the IWA. We also discussed issues of different countries where we should be seeking more contacts and promoting our ideas. A number of new procedures were adopted to help us function better and improve the transparency of the federation.

Almost 30 points were on the agenda, which made the Congress difficult to finish in three days. A number of issues were left outstanding. For this reason, an Extraordinary Congress will be held next year.

The IWA also decided to hold its Congresses more frequently – once every three years. The next regular Congress will be held in 2016 in Poland.

The ZSP from Poland assumed the IWA Secretariat for the next three years.

Besides the Congress, the local CNT organized a series of talks before and during the Congress for the public to attend. There also was an exhibition of posters. Inside the Congress, one could buy, trade or receive a wide variety of publications made by the Sections. All of the delegations also received wonderful gifts from the Anselmo Lorenzo Foundation, including a great encyclopedia.

After long days of hard work at the Congress, we relaxed together over food, drink and revolutionary songs sung in the many languages of the comrades.

(Source: http://www.zsp.net.pl/xxv-congress-iwa)

Posted By

rata
Dec 13 2013 16:04

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  • From December 6-8, 2013, the XXV AIT-IWA Congress took place in Valencia, Spain. Around 150 people took part in the Congress, with delegates coming from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Serbia, Poland, Russia and Slovakia.

Attached files

Comments

OliverTwister
Dec 14 2013 07:08

Would've liked a bit more news...

AES
Dec 14 2013 09:53

Thanks OliverTwister, I see what you mean, I think that the arrangement of having IWA Sections and Friends write their own analysis of their current struggles in the International Workers' Association (IWA) external bulletin when it is published, is helpful.

akai
Dec 14 2013 09:56

Oliver, there is not much more to tell. There was (unfortunately but necessarily) a dominance of technical issues. Setting internal systems for example the system for recalling the Secretariat, (which had been pending because there were some issues about the first proposal) for paying dues and what happens if a section has financial problems or needs to delay dues payment, discussion on the level of dues, on the frequency of Congresses, etc. These things are all important for our better functioning and for transparency of procedures, but not necessarily things to write about.

The Secretariat changes at the beginning of the year, so it is still the task of the current Secretariat to write the official IWA article about the Congress. Maybe it will be longer. You can find some different things in the article on the CNTE page if you like. That article is in a different style than the article on ZSP page.

Thank you for your interest though.

As for other things, which I suppose can be positive, like branch networks, I think it is much better to write about them when they are in place, because in fact we have yet to see what will come out of these efforts. It is one thing to propose something and another to make it happen. This procedure will take a bit of time since we have to go through various sections but hopefully if something starts happening with this in the future, people will know.

A few other issues are pending or strictly internal matters. Also, a few matters towards the end were treated too briefly because we ran out of time. We unfortunately sometimes have this problem because of too many matters. Congresses will be held every 3 years instead of every 4.

akai
Dec 14 2013 10:22

Oliver, this is the link to the article on the CNT page: http://cnt.es/noticias/xxv-congreso-de-la-ait-un-paso-m%C3%A1s-del-anarc...

akai
Dec 15 2013 14:15
AES
Dec 15 2013 19:28
syndicalist
Dec 15 2013 21:44

self-deleted

Stephan
Dec 18 2013 20:29

FAS from Austria? What? The organization exists only active in Vienna. It's a handful of social worker.

adalinaabella
Dec 19 2013 13:05

Such a disasters are happening!

Just fed up!

akai
Dec 19 2013 21:15

FAS is a small organization, but it applied to be a Friend, not a Section. Austria is not a country where there has been an active movement for some time. We hope they will develop. No harm in showing solidarity in their hope to make an anarchosyndicalist organization. We hope they can start moving towards developing practical activity.

syndicalist
Dec 20 2013 16:18

What's the actual name of the FAS and do they have a website or FB page or something public?

akai
Dec 21 2013 09:36

Now FAS is only active in Vienna, so maybe they should be reffered to as WAS. FAS was Federation of Workers Unions: their page no longer functions. But it is still up for reference: www.syndikate.at. Current page: http://wiensyndikat.wordpress.com/

Yepa
Dec 30 2013 16:08

FORA have made public an internal debate of IWA.

There is a thread in spanish in alasbarricadas
http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=57085

akai
Dec 31 2013 08:28

That thread isn't started by FORA BTW, but by anti-FORA.

Yepa
Dec 31 2013 11:48

The text is written like "we in FORA" , "in FORA we think"... "we said in the congress"....
So we could say that at least is a text from some FORA member.

As CNT member I am sick of some actitudes, the smallest and useless a section is the more arrogant and unrespectful they are...

akai
Dec 31 2013 13:42

The text linked to is written by FORA but posted there by some types who want to bitch and pretend the CNT is 4-5 bigger than it really is. They seem to think that any people who are, by accident of birth, working in some other countries or realities should either keep quiet or lick the asses of a few vanguardists going around beating their chests. When you can be more productive in relation to other people in the world, you probably will get respect. In the meanwhile, my comment is that useless is an adjective which should be applied to people who make stupid proposals they know won't pass just to start fights and bitch instead of doing anything that can bring fruit and improve organization and mobilization.

MT
Dec 31 2013 13:51
Yepa wrote:
As CNT member I am sick of some actitudes, the smallest and useless a section is the more arrogant and unrespectful they are...

so perhaps you could quote or base your attitude on something. otherwise it seems it is just a useless post, you know...

syndicalist
Dec 31 2013 23:07

Trusting over time information is shared.... mainly looking for positives. Because I think that's what folks want to finally see out of the IWA (and other international formations). Constructive stuff, not just internal housekeeping

akai
Jan 1 2014 14:36

And well said. So in order to bring positive things into the Congress and out of it, we need vision and people making concrete ideas for improvement. I think some were approved, as I noted above, but knowing life, I prefer not to spend a lot of time making publicity out of decisions, but instead try to work on implementing them. When good decisions are finally implemented and working, I think then it is worth talking about them. smile

Happy New Year.

syndicalist
Jan 2 2014 05:39
syndicalist wrote:
Trusting over time information is shared.... mainly looking for positives. Because I think that's what folks want to finally see out of the IWA (and other international formations). Constructive stuff, not just internal housekeeping

Now why would someone "down" this comment? I mean, of course I would like to know all the gory details of stuff. And I am interested if north america was discussed in any meaningful way.
But, candidly, if folks are gonna slice and dice themselves to death, no one benefits. And I really mean this for the IWA and other formations I may not have a whole lot of politics in common with.

Personally, I would much rather see anarchy-syndicalist influence in areas where it can. And not only amongst their own, but with others who may be friends and allies, in large measure. And I feel the same with specifically anarchist internationals and most networks as well. Basically, time to expand influence, guidance and in places and with willing folks. After 40 years at this, I'm not naive, just hopeful.

akai
Jan 2 2014 10:54

I'll answer your specific question. There was, in my opinion, no big discussion at all about N. America, although it was on the agenda. Only a few comments and some information distributed before the Congress. The reason for this is that there was not a lot of time and we did not get to all points, or treated some only in the most superficial way. I feel in general the IWA has not been discussing situations in different parts of the world too much. But on the other hand, there is not too much justification for speaking of the situation there too much, as we have tons to do and serious interest in joining the IWA tends to come from other areas of the world. I would personally prefer to spend more time organizing concrete campaigns and talking about improving our organization, then just sharing information, as that can be easily done by email any time of the year. Because there are no concrete proposals related to the USA and the time in Congress is best devoted to concrete matters.

Yepa
Jan 2 2014 12:11

I just was talking about respect, every section have the right of propose whatever and accept the congress result. That is it, but we have to decide stuff with respect. the problem is when disrespectful and arrogant actitudes come from people that should focus on doing things right in their area of influence, we the anarchist call that "propaganda of the deed". My union has the right to propose exactly the same next congress, and the other unions can say no again or just change their mind, as easy as that. Personally I think IWA should be 1 vote per city, like that CNT votes can be splitted and the general ideas of IWA members would be more representative. There is no easy solution, but 5% of IWA members controling IWA it is also not perfect.

akai
Jan 2 2014 13:48

First, you have to stop spreading false information about the IWA. The IWA is not controlled by anybody. You are making a conspiracy theory instead of acknowledging that your people just submitted a terribly unpopular idea. Which was not popular with a large enough percent of the CNT even, which was evidenced by the large applause from your own comrades when it was voted down.

When ideas are good and productive for most Sections, they pass. When not, they fail. It doesn't matter how many people you claim to be - if your ideas have no advantage for other people, they will reject them. And that idea was only for the advantage of part of the CNT.

The CNT does not represent 95% of IWA members. Together with USI, it does not represent 95% of the membership or even 85%. And it is the Section of the IWA with the largest membership drop, while others are growing. You should stop making myths about stuff. It doesn't help you with your problems.

Your new idea is surprising. You are against so-called small organizations having more influence than "huge" CNT but yours means that in cases where people set up small groups in dozens of cities, they have more influence than a very large functioning organization in one city. How is that supposed to be better? Beats me.

I think the real problem is CNT is in a hole, its members are frustrated and they are looking for any scape goats they can find instead of producing productive proposals for IWA activity and participating in what has been done in the last few years.

Anyway, I don't see why anybody needs to respect anybody else's attempts to marginalize others. When you come to the Congress with something positive, we will respect it. When you organize something concrete with workers, we also respect (and support it).

Rob Ray
Jan 2 2014 14:04

I agree it's not fair to leave it as a situation where thousands of people can get outvoted by a few dozen, but the ability of smaller sections to make themselves heard is important if we want to avoid having Spanish voting blocs with the ability to potentially make smaller sections do stuff which isn't in their best interests.

I'm not saying that would be deliberate, but it's pretty likely to happen because people can't possibly know precisely what the situation is worldwide when they vote, and will do so based on their own experiences, which will likely be similar on a national level but not necessarily globallly. Because of that I'd be against the one-city-one-vote option (also it really encourages fraud - I could see smaller sections setting up ghost branches if they got desperate).

Speaking of respect though, it's also pretty disrespectful to accuse comrades in other countries of not doing enough at home simply because they voice a strong opinion on the future of the international, so please stop that.

Edit: Cross-posted with akai

syndicalist
Jan 2 2014 14:47

As I am no longer in the IWA, I can't comment on whatever the current situation over voting might be.

Let me just share these few thoughts and observations.

When the CNT was underground it was all these small groups (ours included) that did whatever we could to support the fighting CNT. And within the IWA, the CNT always held great sway and position. We always respected the CNT for what it did and what it was doing in underground Spain.

This also carried through when the CNT came out from the underground and a historic rebirth of the IWA as well. While the post-Franco CNT was huge and we were all tiny, our love and respect for the CNT remained. And the same carried over into the IWA as well.

The CNT has and will always have a special place in the hearts of many anarcho-syndicalists.
Those of us who are or have spent years carrying out workplace activities with less then successful outcomes have more often then not been envious of those, such as the CNT, who have been successful. And continued solidarity will always be with the fighting CNT.

Love and respect aside, because of the CNT's special and historic role within our movement, there have been times when it has used both its role and size to maintain perspectives close to its own priorities.I do not mean the historical patrimony, there is no debate about support for that view. But for the close to 30 years I was involved with the IWA, the CNT pretty much had its way (both in a good way and bad).

I can understand how some in the larger, functioning Union section's can feel a bit
frustrated. Especially when they have felt that some of the smaller and newer sections and friends challenged certain of their union practices.

That said, it almost seems reactive (not in a positive way) to simply try and place limits on organizational size, strength and certain practices..

I recall reading a 1961 issue of the Syndicalist Workers Federation (SWF) publication "Direct Action". In that issue there was a short report on a recent IWA Congress. And one of the main things that came out of that congress was a way to bring in the many smaller, non-union functioning anarcho-syndicalist and libertarian workerist groups from throughout the globe, mainly in the Americas at that time. I guess the point being, that international anarcho-syndicalism will always have elements of large and small. That on-the-ground conditions will create and dictate certain things. And that the ability for a functioning international will be based not only on historical respect, but also on respect as equals. And respect that Union sections may have to operate differently from non-Union sections. With both having to maintain an ability to allow the other to function in a manner and shape best directed by their own memberships (in accordance with the overall agreements freely accepted by those holding membership in the international organization).

Good cheer for the new year.

Ed
Jan 2 2014 14:41

To be honest, I think the main problem in this dispute (and in most disputes between lefties) is that neither side seems to be able to look at things from the other's perspective (let alone actually accept that the other one might have a point).. so the big sections refuse to see that the littler ones might not fancy being relegated to sidekick status, while the little sections seem to refuse to see that maybe 'one section, one vote' is a bit unbalanced when one section has 50 people in it and another 5,000..

Now, with all the respect I have for the CNT, USI and FAU, I do kinda come down on the side of the smaller sections on this for the reasons they mention about marginalised etc.. ultimately I think it would be massively damaging for the IWA as a whole, especially in terms of new sections wanting to join.. like, if a group of a dozen anarcho-syndicalists from, say, Nigeria wanted to join, I think it would be kind of shitty to be like "yeah, cool, but you can't have any part in decision-making"..

That said, I actually had a similar idea which Yepa outlined above about a voting structure based on cities/local groups and was surprised when akai just dismissed it out of hand.. in terms of how it would be better, I think it would encourage more local participation in the international, as your local group could discuss it and vote directly.. so if you're in a city with a small local, or a minority opinion within your national federation, you can still have your say on an international level. Obviously, it could bring it's own problems (which Rob mentions), but then I think the current situation has problems as well. The point is to try to work through them rather than just talk shit about each other.

Edit: cross-posted with syndicalist.

no1
Jan 2 2014 14:55
Yepa wrote:
Personally I think IWA should be 1 vote per city, like that CNT votes can be splitted and the general ideas of IWA members would be more representative.

I like that idea (perhaps combined with some veto mechanism to stop smaller sections from being marginalised), it feels like the most natural way of taking decisions in a international(ist) libertarian communist federation. However would it not be quite difficult to decide what is/isn't a city in practice? Presumably it would fall to each IWA section to decide how many city-locals with voting rights there are, but that's problematic because then each section would decide how many votes in total it has within the IWA.

plasmatelly
Jan 2 2014 16:19

Well tbh, you then have your 100 member CNTe cities and your 10 member SF cities..!

Yepa
Jan 2 2014 17:10

"The CNT does not represent 95% of IWA members. Together with USI, it does not represent 95% of the membership or even 85%. And it is the Section of the IWA with the largest membership drop, while others are growing. You should stop making myths about stuff. It doesn't help you with your problems."

I am not talking about CNT, I am talking about 3 unions and a big group (4 secctions) that have 95% of IWA membership.

"I think the real problem is CNT is in a hole, its members are frustrated and they are looking for any scape goats they can find instead of producing productive proposals for IWA activity and participating in what has been done in the last few years."

I see CNT more optimistic and fordward that in the last 30 years, for the ones that think CNT is loosing members you will be very surprised soon, you can be expecting a big grow, numbers will be more realistic soon.

The proposal was very balanced, the biggest union with more than 100 unions have 3 votes and a group of 20 people in a country have 1 vote. We believed like that was better and other sections decide that not, that is it, no hard feelings, next time maybe we find a nicer idea that can fit everybody. What is not acceptable is the disrespect and insults.

And do not believe so much what some CNT members that are not agree with the CNT tactics nowadays could be telling you. CNT is stronger in workplaces that in the last 30 years. The years were the target was to survive has passed away, now survive is not enough we are getting ready to go forward.
The most polemic decisions that CNT could be taken are taken by 80% vs 20%, even if the 20% is very noisy, even if they all go to congresses and campings. Members have more information that ever, nobody read the internal stuff before, hundres of papers that nobody cares so much, now the members read pdfs online, now everybody could know everything with 3 single clicks, before only the ones like me that have spend half of our life in our offices reading internal stuff have some information of what was going on in CNT and in IWA.

Sorry for my broken english.

akai
Jan 2 2014 20:55

Yepa,

1. There were not 4 organizations supporting your proposal.
2. The organizations supporting it do not represent 95% of anything. You are exaggerated.
3. Your organization does not support it in 100%.
4. We don't "think" that your organization is losing numbers - we saw your numbers.

All of these things are just surrogate issues and the real issue seems that some people have no ideas about what to do. This virtual brainstorming about proposed voting systems is just leading to crazier and crazier ideas. I can just see all the possibilities for manipulation. What about cities (like mine) which had multiple unions? And the ones which don't have big groups in one city and so join in a union with nearby cities. We have 2 organizations that way. Guess they'd be better off splitting up into smaller units and getting more votes.

All these different ways ... which are all a substitute for making common working projects.

I just think people should get on with their work.

PS - suppose your so-called 80% "silent majority" is just also represented by some small group of people who go to meetings and vote on behalf of those people in international meetings. Am very glad that there are critical voices against this type of representivity of the passive memberships.