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AUTONOMY
A Scottish freesheet for social change from below
Issue #4 Spring 2014

Anti-workfare pickets shut down Salvation Army
Bedroom Tax latest news International Women’s Day Sex workers’ rights in Edinburgh Climate change & capitalism Events and groups around the country
The Salvation Army are a notorious user of government slave labour schemes both locally and UK-wide. In Edinburgh Mandatory Work Activity provider learndirect have hinted they are their main user and ECAP demonstrated at the Salvation Army's Leith Walk shop in December in solidarity with a The blockade of the Forrest claimant ordered to Road Starvation Army shop was undertake four weeks particularly successful, only two unpaid labour there. people entering the shop in a street teeming with lunch-time An ECAP spokesperson said: “With the new Communipassers-by. At the large Earl ty Work Placement scheme Grey Street charity shop a Salvation Army worker pushed starting in April we are stepping up our direct action one of the protestors from against workfare exploiters Edinburgh Coalition Against with a UK-wide week of action Poverty (ECAP) in a vain from 29 March – 6 April. We attempt at intimidation. Here urge all charities and employas at the other shops panicers to boycott this exploiting stricken management phoned scheme and all work-for-yourdesperately for assistance benefits programmes. We apwhich never came. The police peal to all workers, especially were one step behind the in the voluntary sector, to presprotestors all day, and were totally unable to prevent any of sure their employer to boycott workfare. And we appeal to the four blockades. Anti-workfare campaigners swooped on four Salvation Army shops in Edinburgh on 3rd March, blockading them all and turning away customers and a delivery lorry. Salvation Army managers were visibly rattled as a giant banner proclaiming ‘IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN’ blocked the entrance to their shops.

the unemployed and all claimants to join us to make the workfare schemes unworkable.” Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty | ecap@lists.riseup.net Faced with workfare – know your rights and contact ECAP for support. Info on upcoming week of action: boycottworkfare.org

30 years on: the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike
March sees the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the national Miners' Strike of 1984. Here, the miners of the Polmaise Colliery near Stirling are shown during a sitin protest. Already out on strike from 21st February after threats of closure, they began action before anyone else and stayed out for the full 57 weeks of national action. It’s also claimed that they were the only colliery that didn’t need a picket line because support was so strong. The miners’ strike was a clash between the most militant section of the labour movement and a state that used all the powers in its possession to finish off working class power. Though the state closed the pits, the example of solidarity in struggle shown by the miners and women’s support groups should never be forgotten.

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The end of the Bedroom Tax in Scotland?
Back in February, the Scottish Government announced it would provide funding to mitigate the Bedroom Tax in Scotland. An extra £15 million was allocated for tenants in social housing with a ‘spare bedroom’. This has rightly been called a significant victory for the campaign against the tax which put real pressure on the parties to bring this about. It doesn’t mean, of course, that the Bedroom Tax has been scrapped in Scotland. The funding will be used for Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) and social housing tenants still need to apply for this. The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation have made the following demands in light of the mitigation: 1. That all tenants get a full refund for the years 2013/14 for money paid on the bedroom tax and to cancel all arrears. That tenants are automatically granted DHP by their councils; If tenants are in receipt of housing benefit, they automatically get DHP. No further means testing. That all councils and housing associations stop the legal proceedings against their tenants which have run up arrears due to the Bedroom Tax. Councils take action now to remunerate those who should have been exempt from the Bedroom Tax from the pre-1996 DWP loophole. The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation is calling on all councils and social landlords to launch a campaign of awareness as to how tenants can claim the mitiga-

tion, in order to remove the confusion that exists around the Scottish Government’s recent [February] announcement. However, at the time of writing (14th March), the Scottish Government is still waiting on Westminster to remove a cap on housing payments. Five weeks have gone by without a response, meaning that the money isn’t available for tenants who could be threatened with eviction. Although the Scottish Government will apparently try to find other ways to make the money available to tenants the situation is still unclear. In the meantime, £2 billion is being cut from welfare in Scotland this year, according to the Scottish Government. This should put things in perspective and re-emphasise the need for grassroots organizing against the cuts. Check out the week of action against workfare 29 March—6 April in events.
As always, if you are directly affected by the Bedroom Tax seek advice about appealing or applying for DHP from groups like Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty who run regular Tuesday solidarity sessions (12-3pm at ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place EH7 5HA ).
‘These hysterical women’, a feminist collective based in Edinburgh and largely made up of Spanish economic exiles organised a demonstration against the new abortion law passed by the conservative party Partido Popular (PP). Around 150 people joined at The Mound in Edinburgh to claim legal, free and universal abortion. The new law makes illegal for women to choose. Abortion will be allowed only in case of rape or danger to the mental health of the woman. In the first case an accusation has to be done before a judge; in the second case damage to her mental health has to be diagnosed by two accredited psychiatrists. In the case of foetal abnormalities incompatible with life, she will have to carry the baby to term. They read a statement claiming that ‘Nobody else can choose for us. And we don't need legislations to regulate our bodies. It is my body, it is my choice. As simple as that’. From: indymediascotland.org These Hysterical Women can be contacted on facebook.

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International Women’s Day in Edinburgh

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Another victory for Glasgow Solidarity Network: direct action wins illegal letting agency fees back
by herself. However, the agency did not return the money within the deadline set in the letter. The Network, together with the two affected people, then planned the next step in the ‘escalation process’. It was decided that the bad news from the agency should be met with bad reviews online, and so a week of action was organised via this blog, Facebook, and personal contacts. Success was almost immediate. The “Bad News Gets Bad Reviews” action started on Monday. On Wednesday morning the letting agency manager contacted their ex-tenants and offered the immediate return of their money. The manager stated that the agency had lost business contracts worth over £2000 because of the reviews. GSN called for an end of the campaign as the manager’s assurance was deemed trustworthy. Indeed, the cheques arrived in the post two days later. Victory! If you have had a deposit or admin fee wrongfully taken, a boss stealing money from your final pay packet, or have a boss/landlord issue that can’t be solved through the usual channels, then get in touch and get involved in the Network. This most recent case demonstrates that direct action gets the goods and that solidarity works.

In January, Glasgow Solidarity Network celebrated the successful conclusion of its first campaign in 2014. This is what happened: Back in 2010 a couple were charged £187 by a letting agency as an (illegal!) ‘administration fee’ in order to secure a new home. When they moved out in 2013 they wrote a letter to the agency quoting the relevant passages from Scottish Housing Law and demanding the return of their money. There was no response to this letter so they made a couple of phone calls to the agency which brought assurances that it would be looked at. However, these assurances were only followed by weeks of silence. Three paths opened up to them: letting the agency rip them off; a lengthy – and costly – small claims court procedure; or attempting a more direct form of action. They opted for the latter and looked to the Glasgow Solidarity Network to show solidarity and provide aid in getting the money back.

A call-out went out and those who could attend sat down with the pair and agreed that this was a winnable case. The first action took place mid December 2013 with thirty people walking into the letting agency’s premises on a very rainy and stormy morning to support the pair in the handing-over a demand letter asking for the fees back and giving them until the new year to pass them back before further action was taken. The delivery went very well, in good spirit, and attracted people who never had participated in anything like this. It was also fantastic to experience the coming-together of people who had never met the couple – an injury to one is an injury to all. Everyone was pleased with the action – everyone apart from the letting agency staff! The manager was so unhappy about the visitors that he decided to hide in a little room off the main office and let his colleague deal with the situation

If you’ve had admin fees taken by a letting agency, or have a similar problem with a landlord or boss, contact Glasgow SolNet: glasgowsolnet@gmail.com | 07842 935713

Does the left need an electoral party?
An Edinburgh AFed member argues against the case for left-wing electoralism. “Where parties are involved in extra-parliamentary activity it’s usually to their detriment, by coopting things or exploiting them.” How then should we organise? Join the discussion at:

16/3—There Will be Blood (2007) 23/3—Daisies (Vera Chytilova, 1966) 6/4—Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) 30/3—Autonomia film night.* Porto Maghera: the last firebrands (2004) & Investigation into a citizen above suspicion (1969). *18.00 start. 13/4—Old Boy (Park Chan-wook, 2003) Free Entry | Screenings begin at 18.30 at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, 17 W. Montgomery Pl, EH7 5HA.

afed.org.uk/scotland

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Edinburgh City Council withdraws sauna licenses: what does it mean for sex workers?
Here, we reprint the statement made by SCOT-PEP, a charity which promotes sex workers’ rights.
SCOT-PEP is disappointed in Edinburgh City Council's decision to remove licenses from the saunas. This will mean that women are working in constant fear of traumatising and counter-productive raids on their workplaces. This will further erode the already shaken trust that women working in these premises have in the police and in the justice system; making women far less likely to feel able to report crimes against them. Violent people will know to target these women precisely because they will know that the women feel unable to rely on police help. Violence against sex workers increases when our workplaces are criminalised. In 2007, when Edinburgh brought in kerbcrawling legislation that targeted streetbased sex workers and clients, reported attacks on sex workers went up by 95% within six months. Premises will be driven under ground, away from service providers such as health workers. With Police Scotland persisting in its policy of using condoms as evidence of sex work - against the explicit recommendations of the World Health Organization - workers will fear to keep large quantities of condoms on their premises, as this could be used to criminalise women. This policy has obvious negative implications for the ability of women to protect their health, as well

as wider public health implications in Scotland. Police Scotland and Edinburgh City Council would do well to recall that the saunas were put in place to tackle the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Complacency on this issue is ill-founded. HIV was successfully tackled in Edinburgh through policies that centred harm reduction; if we remove those policies, we may well see a corresponding rise in HIV transmission.

tinue working, as well as if we choose to 'exit'. The removal of the sauna licenses puts sex workers at risk.

SCOT-PEP calls on Edinburgh City Council to listen to the voices of current sex workers, who are calling for full decriminalisation, including of our colleagues, managers, workplaces, and clients. Sex workers are also calling for better services based around what each individual states they need, rather than Raids on saunas are a waste of police re- upon imposing a rigid ideological framesources, especially at a time when organi- work onto sex workers. Sex workers sations like National Ugly Mugs, who need full decriminalisation now, and seek to prevent violence against sex work- better services. ers, are facing catastrophic loss of funding. SCOT-PEP pioneered the first UK From: www.scot-pep.org.uk 'ugly mugs' scheme, to enable sex workers to share with each other information about violent people posing as clients. Sex In February, Edinburgh AFed worker-led organisations are the experts in hosted a talk by the excellent Sex what sex workers need to be safer; the exWorkers’ Open University, a perts in what sex workers need to access project created by and for sex services more effectively. The further crimiworkers. Notes from the talk nalisation of sex workers, those associated should be online soon. For more on with sex workers, and our workplaces, has what they do, go to: been shown again and again to endanger www.sexworkeropenuniversity.com those working, whether they are there through choice, circumstance, or coercion. Sex workers need health services and a justice system that prioritises our safety which has to include our safety if we con-

The Scottish Radical Library (SRL) houses hundreds of books, journals, posters and archives at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh, EH7 5PU. It is a unique resource in Scotland and has a substantial collection of materials of social, cultural and economic interest, comprising thousands of items donated by users, supporters, members and publishers. The SRL exists to preserve, promote and celebrate cultures of resistance and to serve as a self-managed public space to learn and to share a real 'people's library'. We hope that the literature we stock empowers and inspires people to make positive changes to the world - from challenging unequal power structures to breaking down prejudiced attitudes to others and ourselves. Be a part of the SRL at this exciting time as we digitize our records to get a fully searchable catalogue online and expand our collection. We are looking for volunteers to help with our new tech project, to add new books to our records, and to help organise and promote the library. You can now contact us at srl@noflag.org.uk. Get in touch!

Introducing...the Scottish Radical Library

Scottish Radical Library

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Who’s afraid of ruins? Capitalism & climate change
Capitalism is locking-in climate change for centuries, but in the process, making radical social change more realistic than tinkering around the edges.
I : Ruins There is an oft-quoted passage from the Spanish anarchist militant Buenaventura Durruti. Many readers will know it by heart. It reads: ‘It is we who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place. And better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. [...] That world is growing in this minute.’ Durruti's quote brims with the optimism of a social revolution in full-flow. The insurgent proletariat and peasantry had met an attempted military coup in the streets, and in response launched a profound social revolution. Land and workplaces were seized and reorganised along collectivised lines, moving as fast as possible towards libertarian communism. Three months later, Durruti was dead. The revolution was not far behind. And with the revolution dead and nothing left to fight for, Franco's forces swept the remnants into prisons and mass graves. Durruti's optimism gave way to fascism, and the unparalleled destruction of the Second World War. Eight years after Durruti's death, the ruins got a lot scarier. The Trinity test, the world's first atomic bomb, exploded with a yield of 20 kilotons in the desert of New Mexico. Soon after, the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, were reduced to ruins in an instant. The mass destruction of World War II could now be visited on cities in a single warhead. The spectre of mutually assured destruction would dominate the remainder of the twentieth century. II : Climate change Today, we are facing an arguably graver threat. Mutual destruction was assured in the case of any state launching a nuclear strike. Survival required, in effect, that states did nothing.

But with climate change, this logic is reversed. Now, it is inaction which assures mutual destruction. The inertia inherent to the states-system has thus far scuppered all attempts at a binding international emissions reduction framework. The already weak Kyoto Protocol expired without replacement, and the professed goal to agree a new protocol by 2015 looks a lot like kicking the can down the road. This time wasted is time we don't have. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes use of 'Representative Concentration Pathways'. These represent four outcomes for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and their associated 'radiative forcings' in 2100. In the most aggressive of the pathways atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2020 and decline thereafter (atmospheric concentrations lag behind emissions, so the peaks come later). But this is not going to happen, barring immediate, drastic cuts to fossil fuel use. At least 1,199 new coal-fired power plants are currently planned worldwide, which in itself makes a 2020 peak of greenhouse gas emissions impossible. The window for gradual, reformist climate change mitigation may already have closed. The window for revolutionary climate change mitigation is rapidly closing. III : Disaster communism To speak of disaster communism is not to express a preference for a postapocalyptic style. It is a sober realisation of the irreversible climate

change which is being locked-in by present day development. We don't claim devastation as a sufficient, or even desirable, basis for a communist revolution. That's the case even if it does draw class lines, and brings looters into conflict with the state (as with Hurricane Katrina), or provides space for self-organised disaster relief (as with Hurricane Sandy). Rather, to speak of disaster communism is to recognise the Earth we inherit is one where the ice caps are melting, the glaciers are retreating, the sea levels are rising, the oceans are acidifying, food webs are collapsing, the rate of extinctions is growing, storms are getting stronger, flooding is becoming commonplace, and where agriculture will struggle to adapt to changing climate. It's true that there's no such thing as a natural disaster. Capitalism's pursuit of endless growth is driving climate change. But even if it is overthrown, even if that happens soon, we'll be living with the consequences for centuries, or even millennia. As capitalism accelerates climate change, ‘possible’ reforms become utopian and ‘impossible’ revolution becomes realistic. We live in strange times. Capitalism is blasting and ruining not just its world, but the Earth systems which sustain human civilisation. We are going to inherit ruins and abandoned cities, there is only the slightest doubt about that. But we still also know how to build, and to build better.

For more like this, check out:

libcom.org/outofthewoods

Upcoming Events
22nd March: Fly Kites Not Drones, 1—4pm The Meadows, Edinburgh (next to the Pavilion Café). Organised Peace and Justice Centre. 25th March: (Edinburgh) Tear Down the Walls: Prison Abolition talk/discussion. Organised by Edinburgh AFed. 7pm, Room G5, St. Margaret's House, 151 London Road, Meadowbank. 26th March: (Glasgow) Tear Down the Walls: Prison Abolition talk/discussion. Organised by Glasgow AFed. 6.45pm, Fred Paton Centre, 19 Carringdon Street, Glasgow, G4 9AJ. 28th March: Anti-ATOS picket in Glasgow (last Friday of every month). Coruna House, 29 Cadogan Street, at 12.30. 29th March—6th April: Week of action against workfare. Details of Edinburgh events will be on ECAP’s website soon. 30th March: IWW’s Scottish Education Workers Network (SEWN) Edinburgh meeting. Details tbc, check iwwscotland.wordpress.com. 2nd April: ACE monthly meeting, 7.30pm in the Autonoumous Centre of Edinburgh. All welcome.

‘Tear Down the Walls’ is the rallying cry of prison abolitionists around the world. When we begin to understand the harm caused by prisons, the concept of dismantling the prison -industrial complex seems like the most logical conclusion. But the common narrative surrounding prisons is that they are a necessary part of justice. As prison abolitionists we reject this and claim that prisons are the symptom of a broken system. This March members of the Empty Cages Collective will be touring the north of the UK to discuss the ideas of prison abolition and alternatives to incarceration.

1st May: International Workers’ Day! Keep an eye out for things happening on the day itself as well as events on the May weekend.
For regular updates on Glasgow events, subscribe to: glasgowautonomyupdates@lists.riseup.net

Housing
Glasgow Solidarity Network
glasgowsolnet.wordpress.com

West Glasgow against Poverty (WestGAP) westgap.co.uk

Get involved
Disability rights
Black Triangle
blacktrianglecampaign.org

Edinburgh Private Tenants’ Action Group
eptag.org.uk

Asylum/Refugees
Unity Centre Glasgow
unitycentreglasgow.org

Work
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
iwwscotland.wordpress.com

Crutch Collective

Feminism
Glasgow Feminist Collective
Search on facebook!

thecrutchcollective.blogspot.co.uk/

Scottish Education Workers’ Network
iwwscotland.wordpress.com/scottish-educationworkers-network/

Anti-cuts & Bedroom Tax
Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Alliance
edinburghagainstcuts.org.uk

Hollaback! Edimburgh
edinburghhollaback.org

Call Centre Workers’ Network callcentreworkersnetwork.wordpress.com

No2BedroomTax Campaign

Social Centres
Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh
autonomous.org.uk

no2bedroomtax.co.uk

Welfare
Edinburgh Coalition against Poverty
edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk

Greater Leith against the Cuts
On facebook

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