Wednesday, 2 May 2007

May Day Demo

Anarchists organized a May Day march in Warsaw. It drew about 150 people but was cursed with a few problems with broken equipment and police - it even snowed during the demonstration. Things started late and some people left early, meaning that the demonstration did not "accidentally" run into the demonstration of the left parties as had been planned. Perhaps that saved us; there had been rumours and the radio announced that they were expecting riots in Warsaw so a large group of police were staked out around the corner from the demo.

The march planned to visit a few sites: the McDonalds recruitment center, the Ministry of Finance, the Labour Court and the Ministry of Labour. At McDonalds, we protested against not only the working conditions there, but against the growing amount of McJobs being created. At the Minister of Finanse, we spoke about the Thatcherite economics of our Minister, criticizing draconian budget cuts and the false idea that cutting taxes and passing on the social security, health care and pension burdens to workers will create new jobs. There were some big funny pictures of our Finance Minister and she was cut into pieces in the action.

There was a problem with snow and with both technical equipment and the permission to move down the street with our crazy vehicle which delayed the march, so two protest stops were cut so we could attempt to catch up with the red bourgeoise who were going to have a picnic; anarchists organized a picnic next to them. Unfortunately, the politicians were all hiding inside their party HQ celebrating the anniversary of Poland's accession to the EU, so they didn't get a chance to get a piece of anarchist "birthday cake" or to have a chat with us. But there was a lively exchange with the few body-builder trade union bureaucrats who stayed at the picnic behind some rows of police and private security. Anarchists criticized their type of bureaucratic, sell-out unionism and were called "fucking socialists" by the unionists. Read more!

Ideas and Action Conference in Warsaw

On April 28-29, the Ideas and Action conference took place in Warsaw. The main goals of the conference were to discuss some ideas about non-hierarchical, radical anti-capitalist workplace struggle and to network people who were interested in both promoting these practices and engaging in ongoing and new campaigns.

There were people present from different groups; although the conference was called by the Anarchist Federation Praga, it was taken over by the Union of Syndicalists of Poland (ZSP) who were the main group represented at the conference. Other people from Poland came from the Anarchist Federation, Freedom Equality and Solidarity, CK-LA and Workers’ Initiative plus a couple of non-aligned people. Visitors mostly were from the IWA but also our guest from the International Communist Left made a lively interlocutor. People from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Serbia and Turkey were able to make it to the conference.

There were a number of presentations and discussions. In the global era where many people work in multinational companies, the topic of linking workers internationally cropped up a number of times. One comrade from ZSP described how the capitalists’ tools for controlling and fucking over workers can be used against them. He told us about some methods of sabotage used by workers, such as witholding or sabotaging knowledge in databases or “know-how” systems which capitalists often us to replaced skilled and experience workers with unskilled ones. He also examined the interaction between people working in international companies in different companies, especially those on different levels of the wage ladder and explored how they can act togther effectively when capitalism is training them to compete with each other.

Another topic relating to connecting workers had to do with the automobile industry. The center of this industry will soon be in an industrial triangle made up of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and people discussed ways of agitating and organizing in this industry. One worker present was from a car factory and several live in the regions where this industry is a growing employer. Plans were made to pursue a joint campaign in the fall and to meet again in the summer to discuss the details.

Questions of ideology and strategy also came up. Our comrade from Priama Akcja in Slovakia talked about their experiences in one struggle and examined some of the difficulties involved, particularly with other unions. Activists from Poland related some similar experiences and strategy for mre effective organize were discussed.

Since there were people from groups with different ideas as to work with leftist parties or reformist unions or as to means of organizing, a discussion of these strategies took place. Clearly nobody’s mind was changed but perhaps some misinformation was corrected and people clarified their positions.

At the end of the day, the organizers of the conference felt that some fruitful things occurred and that it was a good opportunity to meet people and develop a few projects and cooperation. Read more!