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Wisconsin occupies for union rights

Workers, students and activists have been pursuing an intensive campaign of direct action in response to attempts by recently elected Republican Governor Scott Walker’s to shatter public sector unions by withdrawing collective bargaining rights. In a clear attempt to break the influence of the unions within the public sector entirely, Walker has forced through a bill which would not just remove collective bargaining, but legally cap pay increases, abolish union dues check-off and require annual union recognition elections – all this after unions accepted all of Walker’s other demands, including a significant paycut.

The bill targets every Wisconsin state worker, with the exception of the police and fire service. However, despite their exemption from the bill, there has been much solidarity evident from firefighters and even in some cases, the police too.

Tremough Campus occupation, Falmouth

Tremough Campus occupation report (university of exeter)

30 of us are currently in the busy lower stannary building occupying and sitting in against the education cuts. We are refusing by direct action to pay for the crisis of the bankers and greedy politicians who are ruthlessly putting profits before people. Students in the occupation understand that this action must be followed by a wider workers movement against education cuts and the public sector massacre in general. Falmouth is already one of the poorest cities in the European Union, and this university is at the heart of its local economy and culture, brutal cut backs now will throw back all the progress made in the area back into a bleak era of thatcherism.

School's IN

Merrywood School in Bristol closed back in September. Despite the huge local opposition, the council expected people to accept its authority in riding roughshod over the local community. But no-one was about to let them get away with it.

The buildings have now been occupied by local community groups, determined to keep it for the community. Various initiatives have been set up, with decisions being made collectively. Amongst the activities are ‘Community Construction', a group of builders, a timber recycling group, and various self-run courses and social activities for children. There are plans for free playschemes to provide childcare for working parents, a young mothers' group for 13-18-year-olds and activities for people with learning difficulties. The idea is to integrate and positively include all sections of the community.

Education, education, education

Higher Education faces significant changes in the coming years as universities move to a market based model. Tuition and top-up fees are perhaps the more visible signs of this but many institutions are now seeing changes which, among other things, significantly affect education workers’ terms and conditions. Union responses so far have seen conferences like NUS’s (National Union of Students) ‘Reclaim the Campus’ and UCU’s ‘Challenging the market in education’ (University and College Union)

General strike 2010 – Barcelona

Two members of Liverpool SolFed recently visited Barcelona to show solidarity during the Spanish general strike of September 29th. They report:

During our stay in Barcelona we visited the Banesto building on Plaça de Catalunya which had been occupied for several days by anti-capitalists. They used the derelict space to celebrate resistance, as well as freely exchange information and radical ideas. However the building was later brutally repossessed by riot police.

On the day of the general strike, we joined a lively demonstration of several thousand organized by our sister organisation, the CNT, who put forward a much more militant message of resistance compared to that of the reformist trade unions.

Argentina: Factory Occupation

On February 3rd the workers at the San Andres dough maker, Disco de Oro, occupied their workplace. The bosses had brought the factory to bankruptcy by using it to back up various financial and commercial machinations. In addition to these debts and the factory’s utility debts, workers had gone without pay as well as social and medical insurance contributions for five months. To prevent the owners selling off machinery, the workers decided to occupy the plant to save it.

Disco de Oro has restarted production and now operates on an anti-authoritarian basis, without bureaucrats and bosses, as a workers’ cooperative. All decisions are taken in a general assembly of workers.

Lewisham Occupation

Since 23rd April parents of pupils at Lewisham Bridge Primary School in Lewisham, south east London, and their supporters have been occupying a school roof. They are protesting against Lewisham Council’s plans to demolish the school building and replace it with a school for children aged 3 to16. The proposed new school will be squeezed into a site presently occupied by the primary school, which has less than half of the 835 pupils projected for the “all age” school, so play areas and room sizes would fall below government recommendations.

The new school would only have one primary class per year, instead of the current school’s two. Eleanor Davies, whose six year old son, attends the school, said:

Occupy and Defy: the Visteon workers’ struggle & their union

Over the spring, hundreds of workers at three car parts manufacturing plants across the UK were made redundant. In response, workers occupied the plants and, in doing so, demonstrated that any protection we might have from the ravages of this recession will come not from the generosity of employers, politicians or trade union bosses but from the action we take as rank and file workers.

In June 2000, Ford Motor Company outsourced production of some of its car parts to Visteon, an apparently independent company, but in reality one in which Ford retained a 60% holding. The relatively smooth changeover was negotiated on the promise that the ex-Ford – now Visteon – workers would remain on Ford terms and conditions, including pensions and redundancy packages.

Occupy and win!

Workers at car parts manufacturer Visteon in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon occupied their factories on Wednesday 1st April, after they were given six minutes’ notice of closure and told to leave immediately. 565 jobs have been lost at Visteon plants across the UK. Left with no alternative, the workers staged a spontaneous sit-in, first in Belfast then spreading to the other two plants.

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