Filed under: Milwaukee area, war-machine | Tags: austerity, capitalism, general strike, madison, milwaukee, strike, students, unions, unlimited, unlimited strike, wildcat, wisconsin, work, workers
General Strike – \’jen-rəl ‘strɪk\ (noun) A mass strike in all trades, sectors, and industries in all parts of a city, state, or country.
Unlimited Strike – \un-‘li-mə-təd ‘strɪk\ (noun) An indefinite strike, which begins with no pre-established date for an ending, and will continue until the workers’ collectively decide on its conclusion.
Wildcat Strike – \’wɪ(-ə)l(d)-kat ‘strɪk\ (noun) An unauthorized strike that has not been called or sanctioned by the bureaucracy of a labor union.
In the face of orderly protests and permitted rallies, Scott Walker’s coveted bill has unsurprisingly managed to slink its way through the legislature. With only sanctioned protests on the horizon, appeals for calm are the only audible words to be heard, while a stifling silence has become the official response to any prospect for continued resistance. The union bureaucrats, who yesterday thundered demands from the podiums, now quietly ask us to return to work in the very same voice they use to whisper in a politician’s ears. Despite their various machinations to maintain passive consent and defeat, a specter continues to hover over the enraged state of Wisconsin: unlimited wild general strike.
In a strange mix of anger and excitement, we’ve watched each other change. As our confidence grew, we began to recognize a hidden potential we never thought we had. If anything was achieved in the past few weeks it was this – and be sure nothing this powerful could ever be conceived in a boardroom with an executive mandate. The storming of the Capitol building, the occupation of the theater, and the countless acts of sabotage were the undeniable manifestation of popular rage. Until everything around us reflects our newfound temperament, we’ll be forced to proceed with an ever-increasing fury. Each step forward makes turning back a more cowardly act of betrayal. Every sign leads in one direction: unlimited wild general strike.
Students, abandon your desks.
Employees, desert your cubicles.
The grand finale will be staged on a crowded boulevard.
Anyone who tells you “no” has joined the other side.
Unlimited Wild General Strike.
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: general strike, going wild, labor, madison, unions, wisconsin
From Channel 3000:
MADISON, Wis. — If Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators pass a union bill that restricts collective bargaining rights, some labor groups in Madison said they would endorse the entire of a general strike of unions around Wisconsin.
The South Central Federation of Labor endorsed the idea of a strike at its meeting on Monday night, but they didn’t “call” for a strike, since members said they don’t have the power to do so. However, members of the group said they now start needing to educate the public about the possibility, to explain why they feel this may be needed.
“We’ve set up a committee to set up the education process. We’ll be working with other labor bodies, and church groups,” said Carl Aniel, AFSCME Labor Federation delegate. “This action is designed to put control back in the hands of people doing all this work.”
Filed under: Milwaukee area, war-machine | Tags: activism, democracy, madison, more of the same, politicians, scott walker, the economy, unions, wisconsin
It is of the utmost importance to realize that this or that particular piece of legislation is not the issue. As capitalism goes into crisis, the State will always restructure itself to meet the needs of capital at the expense of all else. In this way, a democratic state is no different than a dictatorship, a welfare state no different than an austere one. The form of the state will always correspond to the needs of its real content: capitalism. “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Wherever it presents itself, the Democratic alternative is inherently a dead end. When activist-managers, union bureaucrats and politicians lead chants of “Democracy, Unions!” they shamelessly demand more of the same! more of the same! To be clear: there is absolutely no hope in the activity of these politicians and would-be politicians. We can only hope that they might follow the example of their colleagues in the Wisconsin state senate by running away to hide-out poolside at some hotel far from the senate chambers. If only every politician would stop doing their jobs! If the struggle in Wisconsin is to get beyond its current limitations and to become a real threat to the State, it would be necessary for all those involved to rightly expose, critique and depose their self-appointed leaders.
– Wisconsin in exile, February 17
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: attack, austerity measures, burning, caussers, France, fuel shortage, general strike, high school, police, riot police, riots, students, unions
“Despite the colder weather, and the increasing lack of petrol, the social movement is heating up, fueled by fun, fire and fury. “Operation Snails’ Pace”, strikes, mini-riots, schools blockades, General Assemblies, occupations, and today the 4th 24 hour “General” Strike since 7th September …but where is it all going? What contradictions aren’t being confronted? Read on…
Lorry drivers yesterday joined the movement, with the explicit aim of “blocking the economy”. They have been launching “Operation Snails’ Pace” (going slow on major roads and motorways) around Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, south of Paris, Tours, Frontignan, Arras, various parts of Normandy and lots of other places – officially there were 30 “go-slows” around 15 different towns yesterday. This, on the day before the Union-called “General” Strike called for today, Tuesday October 18th: “General” is in inverted commas because clearly there’ve been loads of people who have worked in those sectors which have officially come out on strike. Some of these ‘go-slows’ lasted only 20 minutes, but others for several hours. Ordinary cars go-slow in the fast lane, because big lorries aren’t allowed there.
Various petrol depots have been blockaded. Despite the government claiming on Sunday that only 200 petrol stations have closed down, the organisation responsible for producing petrol station statistics said yesterday – Monday – that 1500 have closed; and the amount of petrol stations that have run out of Unleaded 95 or Unleaded 98 must be a great deal more than that. This shortage is as much to do with the refineries’ strikes and blockades as with the dockers strike which has left at least 60 tankers stuck in the Mediterranean, unable to embark.
Lycees continue to be blocked (officially – ie Ministry of Miseducation figures – 260, but 600 according to UNL – the Union Nationale de Lyceens).
There have been mini-riots and stand-offs with the CRS in at least 5 towns – Nanterre just outside Paris, Lyon, Lille, Mulhous and Borges. So-called “casseurs” (literally “breakers”: see this text from 1994 in English “Nous sommes tous des casseurs”) have been attacking this and that all over the country, sometimes intelligently, sometimes indifferently, sometimes stupidly and sometimes really nastily.
In Marseille the binmen have been on strike for over a week (joining the dockers and the refinery workers). The rubbish is upsetting the tourists, who are anxious to consume the new gentrified areas, brought in by artists and the construction of a modern tramway, free from the stench of revolting proles. The mayor is also upset. Marseille is already preparing for the year it becomes the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2013. With Ryanair withdrawing from its airport base there, giving the term ‘capital flight’ an almost literal meaning, the project of bringing in the punters from the four corners of the globe could well be grounded. All that glorious regeneration of a nice cleaned up surface, designed to reduce all sense of a past into a souvenir photo, could be destroyed by radical subversion. A binman said, “We’re the proletariat, we can’t just sit and twiddle our thumbs.” Though this possibly comes from an old-style CP-influenced guy, in the atmosphere of Republican ideology where everyone is encouraged to describe themselves as a “citizen”, this is a refreshing reminder of a basic socially antagonistic truth. A 16 year old from Marseille, Sarah Jlassi, added “This has gone beyond pensions, it’s about our unjust, divided society.” (The Guardian today). Though this is certainly at the centre of the movement, youths in the media and on the street, from whatever background, are constantly saying how stressed their parents are after work, how consequently they can’t communicate with them.
A few years back, the mayor brought in the army to clear the rubbish. Whether he does so again, in the current more generalised climate of class war remains to be seen, but he could encounter more frustration than merely Ryanair’s O’Leary playing hard to get. Certainly in the longer term – the overtly ‘radical milieu’ there has long been organising against gentrification and the cultural rubbish that’s going to fill the streets in less than a bit over 2 years time (a translation of this text on art and gentrification has become very popular there over the last 18 months).
In Languedoc-Roussillon, where I live:
Nimes (Gard county), all the lycees closed, and there were sit-ins at the prefecture.
Ales (also the Gard) – a blockade of the railway lines, with fires to keep warm.
Firemen were on strike throughout the Gard, only answering the most urgent calls.
In Perpignan, 150 strikers blocked a petrol depot for 4 hours, with tyres burning all over the roads. A train driver supporting the blockade said on telly, “This is not just about retirement but about the whole future of this society”, though the different ways of understanding the implications of that are about as many as there are people who feel the same way. 200 teachers occupied a local state institution (didn’t catch what it was). A firetruck was attacked with stones.
In Frontignan, near Sete, 300 train drivers and truck drivers, plus others, blocked an oil depot, beginning very early in the dark morning – stopping distribution in 3 counties. A train driver said, “We’re doing this for the future – for our grandchildren”, though they were also clearly doing it for themselves.The cops, preceded by a nicey nicey reasonably-toned Prefet (head of administration for the area) asking for a calm dispersal, unblocked the depot in mid-afternoon without resistance – 300, in a fairly isolated spot, not being enough against cops armed with tear gas and flash balls. However, the expulsion was immediately followed by a mini-General Strike in the Frontignan area.
Aude also had a blockade of an oil depot up till mid-afternoon.
In Montpellier the “concierge” (security/surveillance office) of a lycee was completely wrecked by fire. And many of the windows of this lycee were “broken” (they’re very thick top security windows, so none of them shattered) by 50 or so hooded youths. A teacher, who quite possibly objected to this reasonable attack, had a molotov thrown towards her, without touching or injuring her at all. She called them terrorists. The school was evacuated.
On Friday 15th October, 60 or so youths attacked the blockade of a the top notch lycee in Montpellier (“Joffre”) – the BAC (anti-criminal brigade) and suspected RG (equivalent of Special Branch) cops had been seen in their cars outside, leaving just a minute before the crowd of youths arrived. The youths also attacked “college” (12 – 15 yr olds) students, and went on to attack another school nearby, this time going through the dormitories robbing what they could. A car with a couple in it was overturned outside this school, and apparently a tram driver was stabbed in the hand. A radio journalist told a teenage girl he was interviewing that he had inside information that they’d been manipulated by the police, though he never actually broadcasted any of that (probably for fear of losing his job). Clearly, however, the degradations of life on the estates and the gang mentality that survival engenders, means that some youths don’t really need to be manipulated – they see everything in terms of a dog eat dog world, and it will take some considerable risk of a dialogue between those who identify with and participate in a more general social movement and these more nihilistic but utterly directionless youths to shift this to the advantage of both. Certainly moralistic finger-wagging is the last thing that will influence any change in this area: it’s part of the world they rightly hold in contempt, but cannot see or struggle or really want to find any way out of. This is not helped by the catch-all condemnations of anything that involves violence as “casseurs who’ve got nothing to do with the movement”. The local press was full of condemnation of these acts (though some of the worst, surprisingly, weren’t reported) but when the headmaster of Lycee Joffre pushed the gate onto the hand of a blockading school student and broke his wrist, this was played down as an ‘accident’. At another school in town, an anti-blockade teacher on the inside of a gate blockaded on the outside pushed a large barrier (that had been placed on top of the dustbins that are the main structure of lycee barricades) back onto the pavement, narrowly missing seriously damaging the faces of a couple of students. A parent who politely warned the teacher of the dangers of what he was doing was later punched in the face by this teacher. But blanket criticism of “casseurs” is a convenient way of ignoring these contradictions, and of not looking at what is justifiable and what is sick in “casseurs” actions.
Lycee youth chant of the week: “In Parliament the MPs jerk off all day” (it rhymes in French and they sing it).
A lot more could be said, and I haven’t even been to develop the answers to the questions posed in the introduction, but I’ve got to go now. Apologies for the lateness, and insufficiency, of this: internet, computer and personal problems have caused the delay…………”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: fire, France, leadership, riot, strike, unions
From France 24:
“Monday’s French papers are all about the ongoing strike movement; they’re asking if there’s a division opening up between the unions’ grassroots and their base support, what alternative the Socialist Party is offering to the government’s widely hated reform plan, and what will happen after this week’s key vote?
The French papers today are of course dominated by the ongoing strikes and preparations for another major demonstration tomorrow.
Liberation says it’s a risky week both for the govt and the unions- they say a gap is opening up between the union leadership and their popular base- union leaders have accepted that pension reform is necessary and they aren’t ordering the current strikes from the top- instead many of the protests in the last week- the teenagers who blockaded their schools and the oil workers blocking refineries- have been spontaneous and organized from the bottom up.
The paper says we can expect more of this sort of spontaneous protest during this decisive week and the movement may be taking on a more and more radical character which is difficult for the union leadership to control.
The paper’s editorial says this grassroots determination has changed the situation completely- and made it much more potentially explosive.
They say the split emerging between union elites and the people means this week will be a painful one for union leaders.
Communist paper l’Humanité is in much more fighting spirit.
The paper says there’s a consensus among French people of almost all political persuasions that the strikers are right- they say the movement on the streets is continuing to build and build, with 3 million taking to the streets to protest on Saturday- that figure is rather lower in the more right wing papers of course.
But l’Humanité says that war of numbers no longer matters- because the momentum is on the protesters side and the government will have to back down.
Free newspaper Metro says on its front page that it’s playing the fuel shortage card that has really changed things for unions- they highlight that lorry drivers have now joined the movement and are threatening to blockade refineries and fuel shortages- which could of course cause a national shortage and that really worries the government.
The fuel shortage has the regional press worried as well- Les Dernieres Nouvelles d’Alsace, a local paper in the east of France, says petrol stations across their region are running out of stock.
The key thing about a petrol shortage is that although strikes are common in France, they often only affect people in big cities- because they depend on public transport- but nationwide fuel shortages mean the strikes hit hard across the country.
Right wing newspaper Le Figaro, as you might expect, doesn’t portray the unions as quite that strong- their front page says splits are opening up between the different unions- there are half a dozen major unions involved in this protest movement and the paper points out some of them are taking a much tougher line than others.
They say that once the reform has been voted through the Senate- which is due to happen on Friday- that will lead the protests into a tough new phase for unions because the leadership will go along with that decision whereas more radical elements will want to keep protesting- unlike the other papers le Figaro concludes that after the vote the protest will probably peter out.
The paper has also investigated the ongoing strikes at the port of Marseille- dockers there have been on strike for nearly a month- the paper says years of industrial unrest at the port have led it to fall from being Europe’s second biggest commercial port to the fourth biggest.
Now, le Figaro claims, the port has lost 30 million euros worth of business in the last three weeks due to stoppages- and three jobs are being lost every day.”