First of May 2010
At the time of writing, the attacks on the working conditions, pay and jobs are gathering pace across the world. The capitalist crisis that started in 2008 was supposed to be over by now, but yet economic problems continue to escalate with workers having to defend jobs and conditions across the globe. Meanwhile the big capitalist investors and hedge funds continue to gamble with the future of whole nations in the pursuit of ever higher profits.
The United States is in the center of gravity of the crisis, but the media present it as the center is in the European Union. From the end of 2009 and till today the focus has been on the EU and not US, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is asked to intervene concerning Greece. More countries are expected to have serious financial problems. Time will give more information about what has happened, but we will underline some important reasons.
US hegemony is now based on military might and the management of finance capital, not in mercantile production. It relies on the world’s financial centers, transnational corporations, rating agencies, auditing, accounting and consulting firms, and, politically on the United States special relationship with the United Kingdom. Most major credits must be granted with reference to US- and UK- based rating agencies. The auditing firms are indispensable in the evaluation of assets in the case of major mergers or large-scale privatization.
Information indicates that the US and UK finance capital are using speculation in other countries economies as a weapon against competitors. Various Anglo-American financiers meant that a diversionary attack on the euro, starting with some of the weaker Mediterranean or Southern European economies, would be an ideal means of relieving pressure on the battered US greenback which was at a record low in November 2009.
At the time as the EU was launching its Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 there were speculative assault or bear raid against Greek and Spanish government bonds as well as the euro itself, accompanied by press campaign targeting the so called PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain). Both the Greek and Spanish Prime Ministers reacted against these speculative attacks.
Simultaneously, the rating companies as Moody`s, Standard & Poor`s and Fitch were rating down Greece. The banks Goldman Sachs, GP Morgan, Chase Manhattan and Citigroup are said to be behind these rating companies. Goldman Sachs for example was engaged from 2002 by Greek Government in hiding its deficits and by this leaving a ticking bomb inside the EU system. The bank later used, according to the Guardian, its special knowledge of the Greek economy to good effect and “fed on Greek flesh”.
As the worlds hegemonic power, the United States, will do all to avoid, undermine and reduce rising competitors. The European Union was considered as a possible competitor when the euro was implemented. As a part of their strategy towards the European Union, the US has recommended an enlargement of EU and NATO to undermine French, German and Russian influence. France and Germany should also be balanced against each other so neither of them dominated Europe.
The war against “terrorism” after 2001 was used by the US to accomplish the plan in the “Silk Road Act of 1999”: By implementing economic and military influence in a corridor of East-European and Central- and East Asian countries the US could reduce German, French, Russian and in order to counter the rising and growing threat posed by China!
The US and the capital are pushing for a single market with the EU. Especially when Angela Merkel came into office in Germany the initiatives have accelerated. The US and the EU signed up to a new transatlantic economic partnership at a summit in Washington in April 2006. They agreed to set up an "economic council" to push ahead with regulatory convergence in nearly 40 areas, including security, intellectual property, financial services, business takeovers and the aviation- and motor industry.
The schedule for the single market was set to 2015, and the European Union made a formal decision about the single market in May 2008. It will no doubt make it easier to impose US policies on the EU system. The US and UK dominate the finance capital and big corporation as the aviation industry that are the first markets to get liberalized.
It is also important to notice that the US is the most powerful member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF is usually used against the countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa where the IMF have destroyed economies to open them for “Western” investments. Now the medicine also will be used in Europe (Iceland, Latvia, Greece and more?) and there should be no doubt that fighting unions are the first in the line to be reduced/crushed to accomplish the structural “reforms”.
Today`s “race to the bottom” cuts wages, pensions and social welfare, throws millions of workers into unemployment and attacks working conditions and rights. The multinational corporations are spreading their factories around the world, constantly shifting them to the most efficient, low cost producers as India, China, Mexico etc. The raw materials, production and markets are often situated at different places and it makes the system sensitive for workers actions and unstable political conditions.
It is a main trend that permanent jobs are made to temporary ones, and that the permanent ones are less protected. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses as many as 22 indicators to compare the level of employment protection in different countries .The attacks come in a wide range from the difficulty of dismissal, procedures, and to all the variety of temporary work the employers can impose in the work place.
If we look at China, which is considered to be the bottom of the race, the minimum wages are very low. Its economy is structured around a decentralized wage system where so- called “free zones” compete to attract investments. These zones use migrant workers from the countryside who are employed on temporary contracts. If a worker has an accident or gets too old they are sacked and sent back home. They are housed in appalling conditions, which often lack even the most basic facilities, and are not allowed to bring their families with them and have to work long hours seven days a week.
Chinese cheap labour is also an ”export product” through temporary work agencies. Besides these agencies function of dividing the work forces, they have increasingly an international and political impact. These global migrants often work in factories or on Chinese-run construction and engineering projects, though the range of jobs: From planting flowers in the Netherlands to herding cows in Mongolia — even delivering newspapers in the Middle East and used as cheap labour in Israel to avoid employing Palestinians.
The US hegemony is vulnerable because of record deficits, speculation economy and foreign dependence. The “production factories” China and India have because of the trade got huge dollar holdings and if they and/or oil producers shift to other currencies, the US dollar hegemony and by this the Empire can fall. The repressive Iran and Venezuela are blinking lights for US efforts of regime change as they function as energy hubs for the states that want to be independent of the United States.
While it looks like that the debt problems are in other countries, the US, the world` s main debtor, is adding trillions of dollars to its debt burden to finance its multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and military bases worldwide. The US has established semi-permanent or permanent bases along a giant swathe of global territory, referred to as "The Arc of Instability", from the Caribbean Basin and the Andean region, through Africa, Middle East to Central Asia and South - East Asia. Observers will note that this “Arc” corresponds well with main regions of great oil, gas and mineral wealth.
This desperate capitalism increases the exploiting of the working class and our times reveals clearly that the reformist unions are not built to counter today`s offensive. These bureaucratic, centralist "service-corporations" have a concept of “partnership” between capitalist and workers. This concept is not only failing, it is a suicide for the working class in times when our enemies are conducting a permanent war against the working class and its rights.
Rivalries abroad go on with attacks on the “enemy within”. The IWA has been, and is deeply involved in two examples of this. In Serbia members of the sister organisation the ASI –IWA, and former General Secretary of the IWA, Ratibor Trivunac, are unjustly accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail against the Embassy of Greece. (Injuries were of 18 euro). The first ridiculous charges of international terrorism were later dropped, but the fight goes on until all charges are dropped.
The IWA Sections and Friends are actively engaged in solidarity with the FAU-IWA in Berlin. They have a fight going on against the slave work contracts at the Babylon Mitte cinema. Even though the FAU-B is the majority union at the workplace, a regional court in Berlin has decided to forbid the FAU-B of calling itself a union and threatening of fines or prison if the FAU-B don`t obey the courts!
The capitalists and the states either ban union activities or they accept them in order to get predictable opponents being dependent on the legal framework, structures, and subsidies. All in order to direct, control, reduce, split and eventually crush the organisations. Against the increasingly assimilation of traditional factors belonging to the opposition such as the workers movement at a cultural, political, unionist and social level, the IWA refuses to integrate our free associations into the capitalist system.
There are no equal parts when the capitalists buy, sell and cut the prices of labour, while we as workers must obey. Capitalism makes “divide and conquer” systems in order to let us fight against ourselves concerning different races, sex, nationalities etc. But what governments and employers want is not necessarily what they get. While capitalism creates the basis for division, it also creates the conditions for workers direct actions and solidarity!
Solidarity means mutual aid and has no borders. The only true “job-security” we can rely on comes from ourselves, and the solidarity and actions we are able to make. Direct action at work means that we are acting directly against the problems with strikes, go-slows, working-to-rule, occupations and boycotts. Unemployment is fought by refusing overtime and campaigns of reducing the daily and weekly working hours!
The direct actions, propaganda and solidarity are based on our own strength, not on class collaboration, as e.g. union elections to enterprise committees. Economic independence can only be secured by member` s fees, not on subsidies from our enemies. Federalism means that we do not build centralist structures and funds managed by union professionals.
Contrary to the reformist unions, the International Workers Association (IWA-AIT) is fighting on an economical, social, cultural, and anti-militarist level. The anarcho-syndicalist coherence of the International is essential as the struggle also is a fight for a new system. The IWA`s goal is to replace the capitalism and the state by the free federation of workers free associations - the libertarian communism.!
IWA`s 24 Congress was held in Porto Alegre in Brazil in December 2009. The Americas with all its suffering and recently these earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Mexico that have put even more burdens on the exploited, is also a continent of hope, fight and solidarity! Holding the congress in Brazil recognises the important role the Americas continues play in the everyday life and the further development of the IWA.
After the Congress, the IWA has been and is active in supporting the FAU-Berlin, Belgrade 6, and initiating the Congress decided Coordinated actions against temporary work and the participation in the Workers Memorial Day April 28th . Additionally, on the 9th of April it was an International Day of Struggle against the temporary work agency Start People. It was an initiative from the CNT-AIT Zaragoza and the IWA is ready if more solidarity is needed!
There are various trials against the Lisbon 11 which the IWA protests against. This is a solidarity initiative from the AIT- Portugal. Several people were injured during a demonstration, some of them badly, and 11 of the demonstrators were arrested. They are risking sentences from six months to five years of imprisonment.
The IWA and the Sections and Friends are also active in supporting and protesting against the repression of the student union in Ukraine called Priama Dija (Direct Action) This union decided some time ago to apply for membership in the IWA and participated actively in some IWA solidarity campaigns (with ASI, FAU etc.).
The recent solidarity initiative came from SOV CNT-AIT Alicante. The IWA Sections and Friends participate in an urgent action against harassments and dismissals at Editoral Oceano which is a company with branches in many countries!.
The 24th IWA Congress accepted the ZSP as IWA`s new section in Poland and the organization Humanidad in Peru communicated to the Congress that they will apply for the Friend Status at the next IWA Congress. And when talking about organizations interested in the IWA, we have recently got a request from a union in Pakistan who wants to be an affiliate of the International and the FAS (Föderation der ArbeiterInnen - Syndikate) in Austria has said that they want to be a Friends organization of the IWA!
Organize and fight against the capitalist exploitation!
Long live the International Workers Association!
Oslo, April 26th 2010