, , , , ,

VIDEO | That’s Our Power — Rank and File Organising

Strikes, workplace occupations, food banks, workers in Greece haven’t been paid for months, and are facing huge pay cuts. Some have gotten pay cheques of less than 10 €. We spoke to doctors, steel workers and journalists on strike and on the streets.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g2WeWD16rQ&w=640&h=360]

Like http://fb.me/reelnews Follow @reelnewslondon http://t.co/Gnhpg6w6
Get the DVD: http://reelnews.co.uk/issue-32-june-2012/
UK screening tour: http://reelnews.co.uk/greece-our-present-is-your-future-dvd-and-uk-tour/

, , ,

Occupy Production – by Richard D. Wolff

Workers’ self-directed enterprises are a solution grounded in the histories of both capitalism and socialism.  Establishing workers’ self-directed enterprises completes what past democratic revolutions began in moving societies beyond monarchies and autocracies. Democratizing production can finally take democracy beyond being merely an electoral ritual that facilitates rule by the 1% over the 99%. -RD Wolff

This article originally appeared in monthlyreview.org a while ago. It also appeared in the Occupy Harvard Crimson.

As the Occupy movement keeps developing, it seeks solutions for the economic and political dysfunctions it exposes and opposes.  For many, the capitalist economic system itself is the basic problem.  They want change to another system, but not to the traditional socialist alternative (e.g., USSR or China).  That system too seems to require basic change.

The common solution these activists propose is to change both systems’ production arrangements from the ground up.  Every enterprise should be democratized.  Workers should occupy their enterprise by collectively functioning as its board of directors.  That would abolish the capitalist exploitative system (employer versus employee) much as our historical predecessors abolished the parallel exploitative systems of slavery (master versus slave) and feudalism (lord versus serf).

In workers’ self-directed enterprises, those who do the work also design and direct it and dispose of its profits: no exploitation of workers by others.  Workers participate equally in making all enterprise decisions.  The old capitalist elite — the major corporate shareholders and the boards of directors they choose — would no longer decide what, how, and where to produce and how to use enterprise profits.  Instead, workers — in partnership with residential communities interdependent with their enterprises — would make all those decisions democratically.

Only then could we avoid repeating yet again the capitalist cycle: (1) economic boom bursting into crisis, followed by (2) mass movements for social welfare reforms and economic regulations, followed by (3) capitalists using their profits to undo achieved reforms and regulations, followed by (1) again, the next capitalist boom, bust, and crisis.  US capitalism since the crash of 1929 displays this 3-step cycle.

In democratized enterprises, the workers who most need and benefit from reforms would dispose of the profits of enterprise.  No separate class of employers would exist and use enterprise profits to undo the reforms and regulations workers achieved.  Quite the contrary, self-directing workers would pay taxes only if the state secures those reforms and regulations.  Democratized enterprises would not permit the inequalities of income and wealth (and therefore of power and cultural access) now typical across the capitalist world.

Actually existing socialist systems, past and present, also need enterprise democratization.  Those systems’ socialization of productive property plus central planning (versus capitalism’s private property and markets) left far too much unbalanced power centralized in the state.  In addition, reforms (guaranteed employment and basic welfare, far less inequality of income and wealth, etc.) won by socialist revolutions proved insecure.  Private enterprises and markets eventually returned and erased many of those reforms.

Traditional socialism’s problems flow also from its undemocratic organization of production.  Workers in socialized state enterprises were not self-directed; they did not collectively decide what, how, and where to produce nor what to do with the profits.  Instead, state officials decided what, how, and where to produce and how to dispose of profits.  If socialist enterprises were democratized, the state would then depend for its revenue on collectively self-directed workers.  That would institutionalize real, concrete control from below to balance state power from above.

Workers’ self-directed enterprises are a solution grounded in the histories of both capitalism and socialism.  Establishing workers’ self-directed enterprises completes what past democratic revolutions began in moving societies beyond monarchies and autocracies.  Democratizing production can finally take democracy beyond being merely an electoral ritual that facilitates rule by the 1% over the 99%.

, ,

1er Mai : Cinq continents, une seule classe ouvrière, une même lutte

Source: http://communismeouvrier.wordpress.com
28 avril 2012

En Allemagne, ce 1er Mai tombe la veille de la première série de grèves d’avertissement dans la métallurgie pour 6,5% d’augmentation de salaire et la fin des discriminations à l’encontre des travailleurs intérimaires. Même chose au Maroc où les travailleuses et travailleurs défileront pour la liberté syndicale et contre les attaques contre le droit de grève, où, deux jours après le 1er Mai, il est question d’un début de grève dans la fonction publique.

En Espagne, le 1er Mai 2012 s’inscrit dans la suite de la grève générale du 29 mars, contre la nouvelle loi du travail qui facilite les licenciements, le chômage et les mesures d’austérité. En République Tchèque, plus de 80.000 personnes ont manifesté le 21 avril à Prague contre les mesures d’austérité. Des luttes contre les coupes budgétaires en Grande-Bretagne au combat pour préserver l’index en Belgique, sans oublier les révoltes de la population grecque, c’est un même slogan qui traverse l’Europe et au-delà le monde : nous refusons de payer la crise et les dettes des capitalistes.

Lire la suite

, , , , ,

The repression continues after the Spanish general strike

On the morning of April 26th, the Catalonian police arrested the Organization Secretary of the CGT-Barcelona, Laura Gómez, while she was on her way to work. They do not like the fact that every time there are more and more of us protesting against the negotiation of labour reform, against the “social pact” and not in favor of it.
taken from anarkismo.net

CGT statement on the arrest of Barcelona Organization Secretary, Laura Gómez

The repression continues after the general strike. This morning [Wednesday April 26th], while she was on her way to work, the Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalonian police] arrested the Organization Secretary of the CGT-Barcelona, Laura Gómez and took her to the police station in Les Corts. The charge by the police is arson and fire damage to the Barcelona Stock Exchange. This and other charges against her have no foundation and are an attempt to create an image of a violent person. Laura does not have a criminal record, and all that the police can cite are peaceful actions during the struggle for labour rights in Barcelona.

The truth – without exaggerating – is that already after the general strike we said, literally, “it is true that members of the CGT burned a couple of papers in a box in front of the Barcelona Stock Exchange, and threw a few eggs, actions that were fully symbolic and carried out openly. That is what the plainclothes police in the crowd must have thought too, given that they did not bother to identify anyone. It is by no means true that it was the first fire, in Mercabarna, in the Zona Franca, etc., there were several fires throughout the night, most of which were started by other unions’ pickets”.

What a coincidence that this arrest occurs on the same day that the famous site for posting photos of “violent” protestors was presented. What a coincidence that the various state establishments, both the Generalitat and the Barcelona Municipality have not stopped pointing at the CGT and have not stopped exaggerating with regard to the CGT. We know that we are not to your liking, nor do we want to be, but we will not apologize for our continued growth. We know you want to make an example of individuals and organizations that refuse to humour the system, but to go from that to persecuting and harassing our members is a big step. The abuse of power that those in authority often fall into against those who think differently is something that we are used to, though great care is taken to hide it.

The CGT believes that there is an attempt to hide the growing number of people attending events by organizations that are not to your liking. They do not like the fact that every time there are more and more of us, protesting against the negotiation of labour reform and against the “social pact”, not for it. The decline in work and social conditions, the increase in injustice, the enormous differences between the rich and poor, all this has without doubt led to greater conflict and now the politicians are looking for excuses to toughen crime laws. It is sickening to see how public money is given to banks, how de facto “tax amnesties” are announced to the benefit of major tax evaders, how permissive the system is in order to allow tax evasion by means of sly practices and economic bureaucracy, how SICAVs [1] which pay nothing are encouraged, while all the while they are seeking to criminalize anyone who disagrees.
Press Office
CGT Barcelona

Translation by FdCA-International Relations Office.

1. Open-ended investment schemes or mutual funds. In Spain they pay 1% corporate tax.

, , ,

Online Audio: Worker Self-­Management in Comparative Historical Perspective

"New Voices in Labour Studies" took place in Montreal for its 2012 edition. All English and French presentations of that two days of critical presentations and discussions are available for listening online. "Worker Self‐Management in Comparative Historical Perspective" by Kritin Plys from Yale University opens reflexion on common and different historical aspects of last decades' experiences of workers taking over factories in countries all around the world.

New Voices in Labour Studies  is a very interesting event that provides a forum for new critical labour scholars. Everyone has now the chance to listen online to what has been said and to the discussions that followed!

On the second day of this bilingual two days of discussion and talks, Kristin Plys from Yale University Sociological Department talked about Worker Self‐Management in Comparative Historical Perspective.  There’s an abstract down here that summarizes what you’ll listen.

Since us wobblies aim at building a society where workers have taken over the means of production and run them with direct control, this conference is a very good perspective on recent cases where workers made first steps of that ambitious project.

This study could for sure help us to know more how we can achieve that ultimate goal, if we can bring an industrial unionism perspective and how we can prepare ourselves to fight against cooptation and/or repression by capitalist and socialist states.  If you want to share what you think about it, write it in the comment section!

Listen to Worker Self‐Management in Comparative Historical Perspective conference online here!

(it starts after 45 seconds of a quick presentation in French)

Question period that follows also concerns other presentations that took place in the same block

In 2001, with the financial collapse of the Argentine economy, worker self-­‐management was seen as a strategy to keep jobs and maintain wages in the midst of a financial downturn. Worker self-­‐management spread across South America involving 30,000 workers, and in Venezuela alone, 1200 workplaces. Worker self-­‐management succeeded in providing higher wages for workers and higher profits for firms, but these enterprises were forcibly privatized by the state.

Worker self-­‐management is not historically unique. Throughout the 20th century there is evidence of worker self-­‐management across the world. In most of these cases, worker self-­‐management is profitable and provides good wages, but in every instance, workplaces are nationalized or privatized.

The scholarship on worker self-­‐management typically addresses a single case, and therefore, fails to capture the whole picture over geographic space and historical time. To understand the outcomes of worker self-­‐management, we need to look at worker self-­‐management in comparative historical perspective. By comparing 20 cases of worker self-­‐management, I examine the mechanism behind its termination in the periphery and semi-­‐periphery, where worker self-­‐management has its greatest positive impact and greatest structural constraints.

In both market and socialist economies worker self-­‐managed firms were either privatized or nationalized. Worker self-­‐management ends, I argue, because it conflicts with the role of state and therefore is perceived as a threat to political power.

I examine the reasons for state intervention in each case and find three reasons for the state termination of worker self-­‐management:

1) to control labor,
2) to appease capital,
3) threat of financial failure.

I conclude that worker self-­‐management provides important insights about the capitalist state in the global south and it relationship to labor.

, , , , ,

Montreal Stock Echange Tower Blocked by Hundreds / Blocage de la Tour de la Bourse de Montréal [Eng-Fr]

Police peppersprayed about 45 people. © PC/Ryan Remiorz

Here’s a great audio interview that explains it all very quickly.
Thanks to Montréal COOP Media and Alexia Conradi from the Quebec Women’s Federation.
Hundreds of people participated in a major action in Montreal [on Thursday February the 16th], shutting down the Montreal Stock Exchange [Tower], the heart of the city’s financial district, for several hours. The blockade was organized by the Coalition opposée à la tarification et à la privatisation des services publics. Alexa Conradi is the head of the Quebec Women’s Federation and one of the spokeswomen for today’s action. In this clip she speaks about the organization and the reasons behind this action, as well as the ongoing campaigns – including the province-wide student strike against tuition fee increases – that are certain to make it an eventful spring in Quebec.

En français cette fois, Concordia University TV fait un bon tour d’horizon de l’évènement en 7 minutes.
In French, this CUTVvideo takes a good big picture of the event.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjJo-yavDKQ&w=560&h=315]

Lire la suite

, , , ,

Film | Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class

Les séries télévisées américaines contribuent à forger l’image que la classe ouvrière a d’elle-même. Voici un excellent documentaire à visionner et à partager pour comprendre le rôle de ces médias dans la disparition d’une conscience de classe aux USA et en Amérique du Nord.

Sitcoms, reality shows, police dramas are actively constructing America’s working class self-representation or in other words the image the workers have of themselves. Here’s an excellent documentary to watch, and share, in the mean of raising awareness about how corporate media drives us workers away from the consciousness of being who we are as a social economic and political class today.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6ZS91cqpa8&w=420&h=315]

Class Dismissed dares to open our eyes to television’s role in disappearing class from the American consciousness. The carefully crafted interviews set against humorous clips show how stereotypes of working-class buffoons distance us from the reality of corporate greed. Class Dismissed drives home the connections between class, gender and race to ongoing systems of inequality and reminds viewers of the importance of raising class consciousness if we are to succeed in forging meaningful models of citizenship in the future.

– Elizabeth L. Krause | Assistant Professor of Anthropology | University of Massachusetts Amherst
Lire la suite

, ,

Grèce: un automne de plus en plus chaud


Pendant l’été, la colère des Grecs contre le gouvernement et les instances internationales imposant les mesures de recul social sans précédent (et sans équivalent en Europe) n’a pas eu l’occasion de s’adoucir.

Le “paquet” de lois voté fin juin dans un Parlement en état de siège afin d’obtenir le versement d’une nouvelle tranche du premier prêt de 110 milliards d’euros et l’accord de principe pour un nouveau prêt de 160 milliards consécutif des effets du premier (récession donc baisse des recettes fiscale) s’est révélé aussitôt insuffisant pour les bailleurs de fonds : de nouvelles mesures ont été exigées dès le mois de juillet et à la fin de l’été, les grandes lignes étaient connues : gel des embauches et départ forcé de 30 000 fonctionnaires (dans une « réserve du travail », payés 60% du salaire pendant un an puis plus rien), création d’une taxe sur la propriété immobilière (touchant 80% des Grecs) et recouvrement de celle-ci par l’intermédiaire des factures de l’électricité, baisse des retraites supérieures à 1 200 euros par mois et abaissement du seuil d’imposition à 5 000 euros de revenus annuels (abaissé deux mois plus tôt de 12 000 à 8 000 euros par an), soit tous les bas salaires…

Lire la suite