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The labour movement has been unable to de-link itself from its archenemy: capital. As its structures bureaucratise, as its leaders become career unionists, as it opens investment companies and pays staff increasingly inequitable salaries, it increasingly mirrors the very thing it is fighting. If the South African Federation of Trade Unions is to meet its promise, it must be fundamentally different from the organisation it was born out of.A federation will not liberate the class, nor will its affiliates; only the working class can liberate itself and it will never be able to do that as long as there is an implicit belief in a Great Leader/s; as long as the union is seen as a legal service and as long as power and money are centralised. A truly participatory, democratic trade union would be one where the locals/branches of each affiliate control the membership dues collected, where they would use their dues to do work on the ground and put some aside for provincial and national work; where the workers have direct ownership of the means of trade union production (negotiation, representation, mobilisation) and where the extremely loosely used term, democracy, translates into individual worker agency and empowerment to ensure that the base, the majority, the working class, is where true power lies, and that it uses its power to change the world for the benefit of the many.
When we have to deal with disagreements, conflicts and faults, these problems must be solved with a justice that is based on our libertarian ethical values. What does this concretely mean? That we have to hear all the parties involved and make sure to provide physical and psychological protection too all, especially if someone has – at least presumably – been hurt. In cases of sexual violence – for instance – we should not reproduce the bias of bourgeois patriarchal so-called “justice” that too frequently isolates (female) survivors and dismisses their feelings and words. It means that we have to establish means to examine the different positions and eliminate any doubts. That we have to have democratic and collective processes to deal with that and to take decisions and make recommendations. And, mainly, that we must first try to reeducate people instead of punishing or isolating them. Not that in some cases punishment or isolation couldn’t be the only solution, but, at least, we have to make (re)education a priority over punishment and isolation, which should be last resorts.
To deal with these problems within our movement instances of ethical justice that aim to resolve major disagreements, conflicts and faults are necessary. These instance, such as an “ethics commission” for example, could be convened and articulated whenever one or more militants within our movement or organizations identify a problem of this kind and ask formally for the establishment of a commission. The establishment of a commission (or the denial) would be the result of a collective decision made by the deliberative and decision-making bodies of the respective organizations. If a commission is established, then a certain number of militants not involved with the case could be mandated to constitute the commission and be given a deadline to listen to the different parties involved, to develop positions, eliminate doubts and then to produce a written document with a position and recommendations to the respective organization.
The struggle of the black working class majority of Freedom Park, South Africa, is not just for land on which to build housing – although that is obviously a central issue and key demand; nor is it just against the accompanying political and police violence and intimidation. It is a struggle against the injustice, violence and corruption of a system that puts the power, privileges and profits of a few before the lives and wellbeing of the majority.
brazil/guyana/suriname/fguiana / workplace struggles Wednesday April 26, 2017 15:43 by Municipal Workers’ Union of Cachoeirinha, Rio Grande do Sul,
The Municipal Workers’ Union of Cachoeirinha (Sindicato dos Municipários de Cachoeirinha – SIMCA) is a union that fights for workers’ rights in class-based struggles in Brazil. Founded on June 20, 1989, it has consistently been a protagonist in struggles both initiated by the Union and by other social movements. The municipal workers of Cachoeirinha have been leaders in the organization and mobilization of these struggles, refusing to stay quiet in the face of arbitrary and authoritarian exploitation of labor, mismanagement on the part of bosses and government officials, and the injustices imposed “from above.”
In our last statement on the Michael Schmidt case and accusations by journalists Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stephens that he is a fascist and white nationalist that attempted to infiltrate the anarchist movement, we said that the Anarkismo network had decided “to call for a commission of enquiry to investigate more closely both the accusations and the defence, and to make recommendations to the broader anarchist movement based on their findings”.
Regrettably it has been over a year since we announced our intention to convene a commission of inquiry and it has not yet materialised.
While we have recently started making progress once again on the call for a commission and will continue to work towards finalizing our proposal and framework, however, we have also had enough time now to debate aspects of the case both within and between some of the organisations in the network.
New developments and information concerning the case have also come to our attention that must be addressed immediately.
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