This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A Scottish newssheet for social change from below
Issue #3 Winter 2013
Higher education workers strike
The 31st October saw joint strike action from UCU, Unison and Unite in universities across the UK. This was in response to a real term pay cut of 13% after five years of a pay freeze. It was also in opposition to the culture of low pay and zero hours contracts which employers seek to normalize and extend, forever reforming higher education to suit profit. Striking workers succeeded in seriously disrupting the running of the universities. In Edinburgh University, staff were well supported by students picketing several buildings throughout the campus. Students played a game of shutting the Old College gates, the security staff having to repeatedly open them. At the library, we urged others not to use the building to support those on strike. At Glasgow University, management were forced to shut down the library. Cleaners were out on the picket from 5am, there was a large gathering of strikers at the main gate and smaller pickets elsewhere. Unite even brought along Scabby the giant rat. Not just lecturers but everyone who runs the university, from caretakers to caterers, were out and this made it particularly important. A one day strike is unlikely to be enough to force a major rethink from employers. For that day though many of us felt an unusual sense of control over the campus. It fostered new ties between staff and students. And if it was sometimes difficult trying to convince some students and even other workers not to cross picket lines, the strike itself was an education in class solidarity. We want to see this as the first of more industrial action, to build on militancy and turn up the heat. A big part of this is to make UCU’s work-tocontract, which began on 1st November, a success. #fairpayinHE
Grangemouth: what happened? Veteran black panthers visit Scotland Edinburgh’s anti-capitalist & anti-racist dayschool Events and groups around the country
Glasgow feminists protest for reproductive rights
Every now and again, Glasgow sees the small “pro-life” lobby come out of the woodwork. On Thursday 24th October, they planned a vigil in George Square and then a torch-lit procession to St Andrew’s Cathedral. In response, feminists and allies decided their own get-together to argue the case for women’s control over their own bodies. They easily outnumbered anti-abortionists, and produced loads of excellent signs, slogans and chants—”Keep you rosaries off my ovaries!”. Women’s access to abortion along with other reproductive rights remain a massive issue here and around the world. We only need to read the traumatic stories of women in neighbouring Ireland, where abortion is restricted. Those who campaign against choice need to be opposed. The counter-demonstration was organised and led by selfidentifying women, who made up the majority, and male allies supported. Hopefully we’ll see more like it. Thanks to athousandflowers.net for the picture.
A U T O NO MY
Grangemouth: the rank-and-file against the world
Floaker in AFed Glasgow draws lessons from the industrial dispute, lock-out and threatened closure of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and refinery last October.
There has been a lot of speculation about how ready and willing workers at Grangemouth have been to take industrial action. Looking at the actions of the Ineos bosses, Unite the Union, and the politicians we can start to see how much of these three groups vested interests are tied up in making sure workers on the ground are given the thin edge of the wedge. to negotiations. The union's willingness to keep the peace by giving a three year no-strike deal means the bosses can do what they want for that time with no real way for workers to come back at them; that is unless the workers take the decision to act outside of Unite's hands and back into their own. signing that no-strike agreement and are complicit in worsening conditions for its members and breaking the bonds of solidarity between different workers. It is clear that they have no interest in protecting the working class, just so long as they get their place at the bosses table. Over in Holyrood, the SNP have been only too willing to play into the hands of the bosses, giving Ineos support in the calls for compromise to be reached. The thought that a Scottish government (either further devolved or fully independent of Westminster) will be any friendlier to workers, the unemployed or anyone else is an assertion without any backing. The state will always behave in the interests of the state. Holding hope that someone else can fix things for us is only going to lead to halfmeasures and disappointment. It is only by building up our ability to take action together at the heart of the problem that will give us any real measure control of our lives.
Some have claimed that rank-and-file action may not have been possible, but if that's the case then it raises the question of how the workforce got into that state, and what was the union's role in creating this situation? Back in 2000, workers at Grangemouth were striking in solidarity with truckers blockading First, Ineos themselves - as expected the plant as part of the fuel price from the bosses - have been lying protests, then again in 2009 through their teeth. On one hand hundreds of Grangemouth workers they have claimed the site is making took wildcat strike action to stand a loss, though when the economic shoulder-to-shoulder with striking oil analyst Richard Murphy looked refinery workers at Lindsey. Have through their books he was stunned they really to find they were given up this £7million in the black strong will to The union's willingness to keep the while at the same fight in just time the costs to the peace by giving a three year no-strike four short company for site years? Or deal means the bosses can do what assets and a public have Unite loan they were paying they want ... unless the workers take (and the back have been other trade the decision to act outside of Unite's written off. Money unions) been from the site is also hands and back into their own. quick to being moved into an dampen any offshore tax haven. militancy in All of this makes the future of an attempt to show the bosses that Grangemouth look hugely profitable. they are in control of militancy and The only other way Ineos can keep their own slice of the pie? squeeze more money out of the plant would be to cut staffing costs and However, The Scotsman reported benefits, and that is just what they that 665 workers did not sign the are doing. survival plan agreement, indicating Michael Connarty, the Labour MP who covers Grangemouth, claimed on the BBC's Daily Politics show that Unite had been "conned” and that it was "quite clear [Ineos] prepared for this conflict quite well". However, the workers of Grangemouth have not been outsmarted by their bosses as much as they have been ill-represented by the Unite bureaucracy and their tired and predictable way of reacting
The way in which the unions and the politicians have behaved is not the victory for common sense that is being billed; it is a stitch-up against all of us as a class. Bosses are pitting worker against worker while the trade unions and politicians are only too happy for this to happen as long as their power remains intact. The people on the shop floor know their business better than anyone else. We should learn the lessons from past fights such as the 2009 Lindsey strikes that workers on the shop floor are where worker stood in solidarity still up for a fight. How has Ineos with worker and won the reacted? They are going to sack these reinstatement of 698 workers and workers and have them rehired as an agreement of no retaliation from new employees, putting them on the bosses: a victory through shared contracts with lower pensions than struggle. By helping to empower those who where forced into giving in. one another by showing support Those who did sign the contract will when action is called for we can also get a “sweetener” of between take a degree of power for £2,500 and £15,000. Unite, rather ourselves, and to hell with the than fighting this blatant attack to bosses, union bureaucrats and divide the workforce, had already politicians who stand in our tied their hands in preparation by way.
A U T O NO MY
Edinburgh dayschool: building working class resistance to capitalism and racism
the organisations necessary for working class power and autonomy. Too often self-described revolutionaries and communists meet only to discuss abstract theories or to analyse historical events, divorced from any material relation to current struggles in the UK, and unwilling to consider new organisational methods. This gathering aims to be different. We want to discuss practically how we create a culture of resistance and organisation in our own workplaces and communities, to smash the growing threat of fascism and racism from the EDL to the UKBA. Though we remain weak at present, reasons for optimism do exist, from the wave of spontaneous workplace occupations and wildcat strikes in 2009 to the student movement of 2010, the arrival of the anti-fascist network as a serious, militant alternative to the UAF, the
Edinburgh Anarchist Federation invite you to a day of discussion on contemporary anarchist and communist strategy and organisation. Focussing on practical experience of organising above abstract theory we want as many people as possible to come together on November 30th. In the aftermath of the largest economic crisis in decades and the collapse across the world of the legitimacy and membership of socialdemocratic parties, the opportunity should exist for a re-emergence of the communist movement. Despite this, we remain marginal, disorganised and lacking in strategic direction. The left remains in thrall to outdated ideas and tactics unable to adapt to current conditions, to offer any effective opposition to neoliberal attacks or build
innovation of the pop-up union at Sussex university and the growth of solidarity networks. We want to draw out the successes and failures of these nascent formations and consider where we go from here. Do these ideas offer the basis for a new workers movement or another dead end? We invite everyone who opposes capitalism and fascism to present any ideas and discuss the future of our movement. Lineup to be confirmed. Contact @ScotAFed for more information.
Veteran black panthers visit Scotland
On 6th October, JoNina Abron Ervin and Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, two long-time grassroots organisers from the United States and former Black Panthers, kicked off their speaking tour of the UK at Edinburgh University. They spoke on the subject of “The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, new confederacy movements and the anti-racist movement for this period” to an audience of nearly 100, standing room only. The following day they travelled to Glasgow for another packed talk this time on the 1960s/70s US black power movement. against them in Memphis, Tennessee. JoNina told us about Ida B. Wells, a pioneering investigative journalist who visited the UK in 1893 and 1894 to raise awareness of lynchings in the United States. In her memory JoNina and Lorenzo introduced the new Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, and invited groups in the UK to join.
Lorenzo and JoNina are both founding members of the Black Autonomy Federation based in Memphis, promoting class-based grassroots anti-authoritarian struggle, self-determination for the In the Edinburgh talk, Lorenzo Black community and autonomy and gave background on the history of liberation for the oppressed worldthe three rises of the Ku Klux Klan, wide. You can like them on facebook. and both he and JoNina spoke about the recent mobilisation JoNina is the author of Driven by
the Movement: Activists of the Black Power Era, and Lorenzo is the author of Anarchism and the Black Revolution.
1st November: UCU members start work-tocontract. 6th November: Day of action against depleted uranium weapons. Dundrennan Range, Kirkcudbright. 12.30pm. 10th November: IWW Scottish Assembly, Stirling from 11am-6pm. For members and radicals in education, health, call-centres etc. Contact the IWW below fore more info. 10th November: Scottish Education Workers’ Network, a sub-meeting of the IWW’s Scottish Assembly, 3pm-5.30pm. 11th November: IWW Edinburgh’s AGM, at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh from 7pm. 20th November: “Trade unions: in whose interests do they act?”, AFed Glasgow talk and discussion. Fred Paton Centre, 19 Carringdon Street, Glasgow. 6.45pm-9pm. 22nd November: Public meeting: “Edinburgh City Council to cut £36 million next year: what are the alternatives?” organized by local anti-cuts groups. Meadbowbank Sports Centre, 7pm. 24th November: STUC St Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism march and rally. Assemble: 10.30am at Glasgow Green. Rally at 12 noon at the Glasgow Film Theatre, Rose Street. 26th November: Glasgow Reclaim the Night 2013. Assemble 6pm at Botanic Gardens entrance. March off 6.30pm to STUC. 30th November: AFed Edinburgh’s dayschool ‘Building working class resistance to capitalism and racism’. The Pleasance, 9.30am-5.30pm. 2nd December: start of the Week of Action to Stop Workfare and Sanctions. Watch out for protests against workfare in
For regular updates on Glasgow events, subscribe to: email@example.com
Glasgow Solidarity Network
West Glasgow against Poverty (WestGAP) westgap.co.uk
Edinburgh Private Tenants’ Action Group
Unity Centre Glasgow
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Glasgow Feminist Collective
Search on facebook!
Scottish Education Workers’ Network
Anti-cuts & Bedroom Tax
Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Alliance
Call Centre Workers’ Network callcentreworkersnetwork.wordpress.com
Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh
Edinburgh Coalition against Poverty
Greater Leith against the Cuts
Autonomy is produced by
Anarchist Federation (AFed) Scotland. It aims to promote and link together campaigns that empower working class people and that challenge capitalism and irrational systems of power. We want to report on positive, inspirational examples of struggle but also stories which motivate us to act. We will focus on things happening in Scotland and also report on events in Britain, and around the world.
The Anarchist Federation organises for social change through solidarity, direct democracy and direct action. We have groups and members across Scotland including Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
Contribute your article or let us know about a grassroots initiative!
afed.org.uk/scotland @ScotAFed facebook.com/afed.scotland
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.