Wednesday, 29 July 2009

No War but Class War - July update

On the 20th July, workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight - the only such factory in the UK. This direct action, organised with the aid of Workers' Climate Action, is in protest at the factory workers' imminent redundancy, announced on the same day that Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Miliband anounced "that Britain will become a world leader in low-carbon technology and manufacturing" by "pledging as many as 400,000 green jobs by 2015." As Peter Hunt, a safety administrator at the Vestas factory, put it;
If the Government was as committed to wind power as it claims, why is it acting so slowly to improve the planning process? We need a central planning body to overcome the not-in-my-back-yard groups who are blocking British wind farms. But if it comes, it will be too late for us.
Now in its ninth day, we learn that the occupation has overcome one of its biggest potential hurdle after a legal attempt to get the workers evicted failed. According to the Guardian, "adjourning the hearing until Tuesday, the judge, Graham White, said papers had not been properly served on individuals occupying the property." Judge White is quoted as saying, "I see no evidence of any threat of violence to property or person by reason of the individuals who are occupying the property remaining there" and is apparently "distinctly uncomfortable" with Vestas' attepmpts to "get around the rules."

The mood of defiance is summed up by the writers of the "Save Vestas" blog;
We live to fight another day – next Tuesday, to be precise. More days to build the solidarity! Send messages to, sign the petitions on the 10 Downing Street site and the FoE site, visit the plant, organise a protest in your town, follow Miliband!
At the same time, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, the occupation of the Ssangyong car factory has been ongoing for over a month. Libcom has been offering regular updates on the situation, which arose in response to the mass sacking of 2,600 of the 7,100 staff there. The latest report demonstrates the dire situation the workers face;
The strikers in the factory have continued to demand a non-militarized area in the factory to resume the promised negotiations. Management has not responded; the company continues to be under court receivership, because of the litigation of its creditors. Because of the court's authority over the situation, management is able to use this as an excuse to refuse negotiations. The Korean state and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which owns 51% of the company, while being responsible for resolution also refuse to treat it as a labor dispute.
But still they fight on. As Adam, over at Dreaming Neon Black, says in the latest Workers Fightback update, "occupiers are now in engaged in hand-to-hand combat with riot cops, and have vowed to "...fight to the death, to live as real human beings.""

In Greece, Libcom is also reporting on continued violence and struggle, but of a different nature. The fascist uprising in Greece has now reached endemic proportions in tandem with a brutal crackdown by the state against immigrants whilst the anarchists resisting this aggression have faced severe repercussions.
During the past week both Radio Revolt, a pirate anarchist radio station housed in an abandoned train wagon within premises of the Aristotelian University of Salonica, and Europe’s largest squat, Fabrica Yfanet, came under fascist arson attack.
The train wagon of Radio Revolt, was attacked with three Molotov cocktails in the night of Tuesday 21/07 by parastate fascist elements publicly condoned by the Ministry of Public Order currently run by an ex-junta persecutor. Radio Revolt continued to broadcast with only 3 hours stoppage. On Saturday 25/07 Fabrica Yfanet’s main gate was attacked by a gas-canister device. The fire was extinguished by member soft hw squat as well as neighbours, while police forces that unusually arrived to the scene only minutes after the attack engaged squatters and neighbours in fascist verbal abuse clearly sympathising with the attack. Fabrica Yfanet is a centre of manifold political activities and receives widespread support amongst the city’s youth and progressives.
Meanwhile in Athens, on the early morning of Tuesday 28/7, a squad of Golden Dawn members marched from the offices of the neonazi party near Omonoia square down Menandrou street in military formation, attacked black men and women uninhibited by the strong police presence in the area. The nazi scum chanted “today niggers die” while returning to their Agios Panteleimonas lair.
Arson attacks against anarchist antiauthoritarian and libertarian squats have been a repeated pattern in the last year, and is considered to be part of the Greek state’s massive counterinsurgency efforts to quench the rising social movement against the more and more dictatorial rule of the government which has been manning its civil service with ever more junta-related individuals. Parastate elements’ anti-squat activity has repeatedly led to massive solidarity marches, rendering the strategy rather counterintuitive, proving once again the readiness of the Greek state to exercise brute force, and its inability to reason even to its own interest.
Characteristic of the new blind fascism of the Greek state is the unprecedented act of censorship exercised against a short animated film by the well known leftist director Costa-Gavras, who is a nail in the eye of the Greek PM for having filmed “Z”, the story of the assassination of left-wing MP Grigoris Lambrakis by parastate thugs under orders of the PM’s uncle in the mid 1960s. Gavras’ animation commissioned by the Ministry of Culture was meant to play at the new Acropolis museum, until the Ministry obliged to curtail scenes portraying Greek Orthodox priests vandalising the Parthenon after orders by the Church. Costa-Gavras has condemned the act as a return to the darkest days of the country. The Greek Orthodox Church remains the largest land-owner in the country and an integral part of the State mechanism, waging considerable control in many policies, particularly relating to education.
Despite the rising white-terror and the mid-summer vacations, the social antagonistic movement is stepping up its response to the state-fascist collaboration and racist bigotry.
In South Africa, the massive social rebellion I reported on in my last article continues apace. On Tuesday, as reported by BBC News, "residents barricaded a road with burning tyres during a protest against poor living conditions in the area" and "the crowd stoned a local municipal office after realising it was closed due to the municipal workers' strike, which has entered its second day."In response, "police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the violent crowd. A police officer was seriously injured when a stone was thrown at him during their protest," according to a police spokesperson. In response to the municipal strike, Zuma's administration could only "condemn" workers' behaviour, ignoring such realities as the fact that "Workers say they are unable to make a living from their current wages because of high food prices."

The BBC and other outlets continue to refer to "service delivery protests," ignoring the fact that these uprisings are not just about the delivery of services but the utter failure of the ruling ANC to drag the poorest out of the dire situation they were encased in by the apartheid system.

Also worth a mention is the spate of "bossnappings" by French factory workers protesting layoffs and costcuttings, and the Chinese steel workers who beat Chen Guojun, the general manager of Jianlong Steel Holding Company, to death during demonstrations against the takeover of their company.

Across the world, workers are waking up to the fate that awaits them under the corporate capitalist system and taking matters into their own hands. This is not the controlled action of the giant reformist trade unions, who betray workers at least as much as they help them, but of ordinary people at a grassroots level. And as long as the injustice continues, so will the resistance.