100th Anniversary of the Norwegian Syndicalist Federation: 1916 – 2016

The NSF had an 100th Anniversary event on October 29th as start for the NSF Centennial. It was held in a wooden house in Grunerløkka in Oslo and it was very well attended. Greetings were held from IWA Secretariat (with seat in Poland) by the General Secretary, a comrade from SFManchester,
and a comrade from Ørestad LS, which is an IWA Friends organization. Later, it appeared 9 workers from a new grassroot initiative of transport workers from the big transport terminals in Oslo and surroundings, and they made a greeting to the NSF.

There were first speeches about the founding of NSF on December 28th of 1916 and the numerous direct actions the following years. The NSF was also in the forefront of making actions by taking the 8th hour day, and started to agitate for the 6th hour day as early as in 1919. A health worker/ historian , who is writing two books about the NSF, spoke about the development in Rjukan, a community where the NSF had 600 affiliates in 1920, and how the local branch of the main Confederation, the LO, sometimes cooperated, but most times undermined the NSF and its direct actions.

Another speech was about NSF activities in the twenties and thirties. The NSF joined the IWA at its founding Congress in 1922, and has since taken actively part in it. The NSF kept organizing in the twenties and thirties. They had also a women`s group that actively took part in the NSF
organizing efforts, and many of its members were also arrested during the World War II for illegal work against the Nazis.

The oldest current NSF veteran spoke about the NSF activities from the World War II to the reorganization in 1977. The NSF cooperated in this period with the revolutionary syndicalists in Sweden, as the SAC had made a reformist development, and with Danish comrades. He also spoke some about the reorganization of the NSF in 1977 and the union work he and other NSF comrades had in the metal industry. There had been some major unofficial/ illegal strikes in this sector that had radicalized the workers.

Then the last and biggest part of the event was about work conflicts which NSF members had taken part in and/or supported. To mention some: The NSF had a couple of years after the reorganization in 1977 an own action that was successful, about the repression against NSF union activists, a comrade talked about the activities of the NSF Section during the pre-school teachers unofficial strike in 1987, another about the unofficial strikes at Tollpost- Globe (big transport terminal) in 1992 and the SAS -Hotel conflicts in 1992 and 1993. Thanks to these conflicts, tens of thousands of Norwegian workers in these and other branches got fixed instead of temporary contracts! It was also mentioned work conflicts up to today.
Activists of the unions at Tollpost- Globe and SAS- Hotel workers union and other unions participated at a NSF Conference in April 1996 about Direct action. Two Liverpool dock- workers who were on strike also participated at this Conference. It was the start to the very big solidarity work from Norwegian local unions to the Liverpool dock- workers.

The SF comrade, and another comrade, spoke about this support work in the nineties, and also about the very big solidarity work among Norwegian local unions for the British miners strike in the 80-s. The SF comrade saw clearly the link between the Norwegian Government plans to privatize the railways, and the privatization in Britain: It has been a disaster in Britain and now the Norwegian government is copying them!

NSF activists were active in establishing local unions solidarity committees for arrested workers in Chile and Bolivia in the end of the seventies, and members took actively part in local union support for arrested workers in Poland after the Marshall law in December 1981. A comrade from ZSP informed about the situation of Polish workers today, and how Poland tries to attract factories as a low cost country. The speech was then about ZSP work conflicts which there are a lot of, and how they act against the Government and Employers policy.

The Swedish comrade had a speech about privatizations in Sweden. He said the legislation in Sweden makes it easier for minority organizations to negotiate than in Norway, and told about work conflicts of Ørestad LS. It was also spoken about that the comrades in Ørestad LS, Denmark
and NSF will start a Scandinavian cooperation.

All these examples and many more show the importance of International solidarity and affiliation to the International Workers Association (IWA). The importance of the NSF affiliation and active participation in the IWA since 1922 was mentioned in all the speeches about the different decades.
This commemoration was held in times when the employers and the state are attacking the workers and their rights on all fields. The lower oil price compared to some years ago is used to attack the oil -workers conditions and rights and they are throwing thousands into unemployment while the oil companies still are having big profits.

One and a half years ago, pilots in Norwegian went on strike for the right to be employed by those they actually perform their work for, and not by temporary agencies. The dock-workers have campaigned and went on strike for up to three years in some ports for collective agreements and for the right to perform the work in accordance with international conventions (ILO). And in October there was a four weeks long train drivers strike demanding a common standard in education, so its independent of the different train companies that will appear when the plans of privatizations of the railways will be put into practice in 2017.

Because of this situation, where the Norwegian tripartite, class- collaboration model is shaking, the NSF has got more requests about new forms of resisting and anarchosyndicalism in the last one and a half year, than in the more “silent” period from the year 2000!

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