Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 81 - Feb 2006





Everybody knows by now that the pensions system is in crisis. Major employers such as the Co-op, Provident Financial, Rentokil, Arcadia and now IBM have cut back on their pensions schemes. Final salary schemes, which guarantee a proportion of workers' income as a pension have been replaced by much less "generous" schemes which will leave us much worse off.


According to a BBC source a 30 year old aiming to retire at 65 will need to save £260 a month in order to live reasonably well. A man aged 40 would have to save £450 a month. How many can afford that? Women, who are more likely to take breaks in their employment will need to save even more.


It's not as if the state will step in to help. At the moment the basic state pension is a miserly £86.50 per week and £131.20 for a couple. Now the government is about to make us work a lot longer before we can get a state pension. You know the thinking behind that: make `em work till they drop.


What has brought this about? The media will tell you it's due to an ageing population living too long and so making too heavy demands on both the state and private pension schemes. The reality is however, that this likelihood was known decades ago and nothing was done to avoid the problem which is now hitting us. Successive governments could have taxed firms more heavily to meet state pension requirements but nothing was done. Rather, from Thatcher onwards governments have reduced taxes on the rich at the expense of the rest of us.


Another argument regarding company pensions is that since these pensions depend on stock market returns, with falls in share prices the money is no longer available. This of course is rubbish. Companies exist to benefit the shareholders and not their workers.So, when the stock market was booming in the nineties, what did these companies who are now pleading pensions poverty, do? They took so-called "pensions holidays". In other words, they stopped paying into pension funds or drastically reduced the amount they paid in. According to one source between 1997 and 2002, employers running final salary schemes grabbed back over a billion pounds. This of course was then given to shareholders.


So, the picture is clear, once again the workers get screwed to benefit the rich.


This crisis is not going to go away. Without a widespread, prolonged and determined fightback we can look forward to an old age either being stuck in the workplace or living in poverty. We must make the pensions issue Labour's poll tax. The war starts now!






The House of Lords has dealt a blow to Labour's ID Card Bill, criticising the enormous cost, the obvious insecurity of personal information in a centralised database, the way the government wants cards to be used for accessing public services, and attacking compulsion partly as a result of it not being in the Labour manifesto.


In February we are expected to see the start of biometric passports - starting with a chip that stores your digital photo and, we assume, with future capacity for finger-prints or eye-scans - and driving licences are also due to be enhanced with biometrics. These are seen as a back-door to a wider spread of compulsory ID, and could still be, even though the Lords appear to have voted down this kind of coupling last week.


The government is also creating a separate database for all children in the UK, to be up and running by 2008. It will contain name, address, gender, date of birth and ID number, information about the child's parent or carer, and contact details for their school, doctor and other services. It will also allow `practitioners' (social workers etc.) to "indicate to others that they have information to share, are taking action, or have undertaken an assessment in relation to a child". This is being promoted for child protection, but in reality means another vast identity database that could easily feed into the adult National Identity Register (NIR), which is the major component of Labour's ID Card Bill.


More info:


Corporate Identity: a report which digs up more dirt on the companies who are developing and cashing in on ID card and database technology for the UK scheme. Available from Corporate Watch, 16B Cherwell St. Oxford, Oxfordshire OX4 1BG or visit


Defending Anonymity: thoughts for struggle against identity cards. Get this free pamphlet from the Anarchist Federation. Visit


Defy-ID: Find out about groups in your area. Visit:






Our monthly look at workplace struggles:


It's not often that we can bring you news of a Europe-wide militant

protest that ends in almost total success, but this month just

happens to be one of those rare times. January 16th saw over 10

thousand dockers from every country in the EU gathering in Strasbourg

at the European Parliament to protest the proposed introduction of

Port Package 2 - a plan to 'liberalise' EU docks and associated

labour that amounts to a full frontal attack on wages, safety

conditions and workers rights.


Tens of thousands also gathered across other cities in Europe or shut

down ports in solidarity with those gathered at Strasbourg.


The main demo was loudly and aggressively militant from the start and

became more vocal as the day wore on - eventually culminating in a

mass stoning of the Parliament itself where 100 square metres of

glass was broken and MEPs harangued. The police turned their water

cannons on the protesters and when this failed the tear gas was

brought out. Too late though - the dockers had made their mark. And

the proposal was thrown out by a massive margin of 532 against 120.


The lesson here is that European wide working class co-ordination is

not only possible but that it can be carried out on a very militant

basis and very importantly, win. It can achieve its aims far better

then months of lobbying with the states bureaucrats and their mirror

image amongst the union tops ever will. Of course, there will be

attempts to smuggle this proposal through again - when capital can't

get in the front door it goes straight round the back, but with the

lessons learnt form this victory it's going to have another fight on

its hands.


Closer to home we just have space to report that strikes by tube

station staff have been continuing and that drivers are now also

likely to initiate strike action in their long running dispute with

TFL as well.


The transport network has also been hit by a wildcat strike on London

busses over management spying on drivers, whilst train drivers have

also been striking in the midlands. Heathrow Terminal 5 is also

looking like it will face another new round of walkouts by building

workers as Laing O'Rourke are up to their normal penny pinching

tricks again. Work And Pensions staff are also considering whether to

take 48 hour action in the coming weeks.






I have a big respect for anyone who volunteers to do work for a

charity. After all, charities cater for the needs of people let down

by the "welfare" state. And there are a lot.


But one thing puzzles me. How is it that some people seem to be

making big money out of aid. And, I'm not talking about corrupt

politicians in the third world or companies profiting from hidden

clauses in aid bills. I'm talking about those working in the top jobs

in charities.


Take a look at the jobs section in a recent issue of the Guardian. A

charity which aims to provide drinking water in developing countries

is looking for a regional manager at £27,000 plus. A UK manager gets

up to £40,000 plus. That's a lot more than my wages mate!

It is particularly galling that their webpage states that "a gift of

just £2 a month can help bring a child safe drinking water,

sanitation and hygiene education. Your donations could help make the

difference between life and death."


It works out that these two posts are taking safe drinking water away

from around 30,000 kids! It seems also that the charity spends nearly

£6 million on administration, fund-raising and publicity.


But the big prize goes to another charity which is looking for an

International Programme Director at a pittance of a mere £67,000.

Mind you, they request volunteers to work for nothing.


Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to discourage people from giving

to charity or volunteering. It do it too, every now and again. What

I'm saying is these bodies aren't going to change the world and

neither will Sir Bob Geldof. If you are trying to change the world

(and it badly needs it) it will take a lot more than charity. It

actually needs a revolution, nothing less, and anyone who says

otherwise is wishing for the stars.






Rossport Solidarity Camp


Rossport Solidarity Camp is set to re-open on the 25th of February.

The camp is part of a community based struggle against Shell, Statoil

and the Irish State's plans to build a high pressure raw gas pipeline

and refinery in a rural part of the West of Ireland. The camp was

closed over winter as building work cannot be carried on then. Last

summer a variety of mass direct actions shut down construction, and

inspired people facing similarly unwanted developments around the

island. The re-opening of the camp is to be preceded by solidarity

actions, targeting Shell, Statoil, or the Norwegian state (part

owners of Statoil).


These are happening on Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th of

February, confirmed locations for  actions include Clare, London,

Sweden, Kerry, Dublin, and Nottingham. The camp has a website with

basic information about how to get there and what to expect, it's at and the camp can also be contacted at 00353

9720944. More people are very welcome, for a short or long stay.


Reclaim our lives - No WTO!


LOCAL GRASSROOTS ACTIVISTS, from Reading, Berks, came together on the

17th, in opposition to the corrupt and undemocratic World Trade

Organisation (WTO) and in solidarity with all those struggling

against it's policies World-wide. The various groups, fighting

poverty, climate change, capitalism and more, spent several weeks

discussing their plans in co-ordination with each other, and from

very early on decided to hold this demonstration on commercial land

owned by the Oracle shopping centre, a place where there is no legal

right to protest. This was to highlight the privatisation,

commercialisation and loss of open, public spaces across the UK.


Court Victory for Protesters


A judge has ruled that seven anti-apartheid protesters who had

blockaded the Israeli agricultural export company, Agrexco UK, had no

case to answer and the case was dismissed. On November 11th 2004 the

seven protesters succeeded in shutting down the UK distribution

centre of Israel's biggest state owned agricultural export company

for over eight hours, blocking both the entrance and exit to the

Agrexco UK distribution centre, near Swallowfield Way, Hayes,



Info from:







The Irish Ferries dispute is over but the threat of summary sackings

and casualisation remains.  Dozens of workers occupied two ferries

for more than three weeks in appalling conditions, locking themselves

in engine and control rooms below the water line, with little food

and the lights on twenty-four hours a day.  The MVs Isle of Inishmore

and Ulysses were occupied when they docked in Wales and it became

apparent that their employer, Irish Ferries, had secretly imported

replacement crews from the Baltic states to replace 540 unionised

seafarers with agency workers on 3.60 Euros (about £2.80) an hour.

The crews were offered immediate dismissal, `voluntary' redundancy

worth half their entitlement or re-employment at 3.60 Euros (the

Irish minimum wage is 7.65 Euros).  Some choice!


The scab crew came aboard incognito with security guards who then

changed into uniforms and riot gear, ready to summarily sack and

expel the Irish crew from the ships.  The company says that the

security presence was "necessary" to ensure access by safety and

maintenance personnel while at the same time illegally denying the

trade unions access to their members; another example of how private

property allows bosses to ignore the law when it suits them.  "We

have a duty and responsibility to protect our assets", said a company

spokesman – quite.  The Irish courts ruled after the 2004 dispute

that terms and conditions previously agreed should stay in place

until 2007.  How do you get round this inconvenient little problem?

Sack the workers and replace them with new ones employed on a

different basis.  Some courts, some justice…


Widespread support


The dispute has attracted widespread support.  The MV Normandy had to

dock in Dublin after being `locked out' by workers at Rosslare.  A

crew of eastern European workers, ready to be put aboard had to be

driven away in taxis after the SIPTU union said it would not work

with the company if it persisted in trying to put scab crews onto

Irish ships.  An unofficial lockout of Irish Ferries ships across

Ireland soon developed and all sailings cancelled.  A demonstration

at Holyhead on December 6th in support of the crew occupying the MV

Ulysses drew 60+ demonstrators of whom 25 came from Liverpool.  Not

many you might think but more than made up for by 100,000 who

attended rallies in Dublin and other cities on December 9th to demand

government action to combat exploitation of migrant workers and the

displacement of jobs.  However SIPTU leaders could not and would not

go beyond these half day actions rather than calling for all- out

solidarity strikes.


The company has a long history of acrid labour relations and on at

least one occasion previously had allegedly threatened to use tear

gas on strikers.  In this dispute they have – because the law allows

them to – threatened to withdraw redundancy offers by going into

(temporary) liquidation, no doubt emerging later under a Cypriot flag

and registered office in Belize.  Crew member Gary Jones on the Isle

of Inishmore, said: "We've given a lot of things away to Irish

Ferries over the last two years. They've made savings of £3.5m by

taking away conditions from us. We've only our jobs left and that's

what we're trying to secure."  Although Irish Ferries says cost-

cutting is necessary, its local competitor, Stena Lines, says it has

no similar plans and will continue to use local crews.


  On December 14th the three week dispute at Irish Ferries came to an

end. SIPTU claimed that the deal protects a "threshold of decency".

The deal means a two-tier workforce with those staff who reject

redundancy keeping their old wages and conditions but all new staff

being paid just 7.65 Euros an hour and having longer working hours

and fewer holidays. Irish Ferries can re-flag its ships; a three year

no-strike agreement and all disputes to be settled by binding

arbitration. However the Latvian workers have seen their pay doubled;

they also have gained a month's paid leave for every two months they

work, originally the company wanted one months leave for every three

months worked.


Everyone close to the dispute recognizes that the replacement crews

were duped by the company and are as much victims of Irish Ferries

duplicity as anyone. People all over the world should be able to have

a decent living.


Globalization and the spread of rampant free-market capitalism is not

a far-away problem of peasants driven from their land or bulldozed

shantytowns but here and now.






Our regular look at history:


ON APRIL 25TH 1974 a radical faction within the Portuguese Armed

Forces, the MFA, revolted against the 50 year old fascist



Left-wing activists began returning from exile, and new political

parties sprouted up. The parties all used the situation to gain

political power in the government. Ordinary folk, in contrast, used

the situation to improve social conditions in their communities and

workplaces through new autonomous organisations. This month we'll

look at some of the workplace struggles.


Workers immediately began struggling against the harsh economic

conditions. Strikes had been met by brutal force under the fascist

regime but lack of experience proved no deterrent to the Portuguese

working class. During the summer of 1974 over 400 companies

registered strikes. One of the most significant was within the  TAP

airline. An assembly, held without union officials, drew up a list of

demands including the purging of staff who showed "anti-working class

attitudes", wage increases and the right to reconsider collective

contracts whenever the workers pleased. The demands were not accepted

by the government, so in response the workers declared a strike,

elected a strike committee and posted pickets. All international

flights were halted. The new Minister for Labour, a Communist Party

member, called on the workers to resume work Eventually the

government sent the military to occupy the airport and arrest the

strike committee. Two hundred workers were sacked but were reinstated

after mass demonstrations and threats of further strikes. A shorter

working week was gradually introduced.


It had became common for assemblies of workers to elect delegates to

the committees. These committees were normally elected annually and

were subject to recall. By the end of October 1974 there was about

2,000 of these committees. In the summer of 1975 the movement began

to develop further. Frequently, when demands were ignored by

management, workers would occupy their places of employment and in

many cases set up systems of self-management. Workers would take to

running the businesses themselves. In one factory 1,100 textile

workers rid themselves of the management and elected a workers'

committee to run things.


To be continued next month…






Prison abolition seminar


Over Fifty people  met in London on Jan 29th to discuss the abolition

of prisons ,with two speakers and a discussion.

Reference was made to the old Radical Alternatives to Prison and a

decision was made to found a new group which would both discuss the

abolition of prison and involve itself in activity around things like

new prisons being built etc. For more information visit:


Anti-militarist jailed


Dutch Ploughshares activist Turi Vaccaro was sentenced to six months

following his disarming of two F16 bombers. His action was carried

out to remember the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He

also has to either pay 750,000 Euro compensation for the damage he

caused or spend a further year in prison.


Write to:

  Turi Vaccaro, HvB De Boschpoort, Nassausingel 26, 4811 DG Breda, The Netherlands


Writing to prisoners


Prison is isolation, so contact with the outside world, letting a

prisoner know s/he is not forgotten, helps break this down. Sometimes

just a friendly card can boost their morale. Writing for the first

time to a complete stranger can be awkward. A card with some well

wishes, a bit about who you are and asking what you can do to help is

often enough. Don't expect prisoners to write back. Sometimes, the

number of letters they can receive/write is restricted, or they just

might not be very good a writing back. To help, include a couple of

stamps or, if writing abroad, International Reply Coupons (IRC's)

that you can get from any post office. Write on clean paper and don't

re-use envelopes. Remember a return address, also on the envelope.

Ask what the prisoner can have sent to them, as this varies from

prison to prison. Books and pamphlets usually have to be sent from a

recognised distributor/bookshop/publisher. Tapes, videos, writing

pads, zines, toiletries and postal orders are some of the things you

might be able to send.


More info at:






When going on demonstrations stay sober, don't talk to the police and

if you're arrested give only your name and address then say `no

comment' to any other questions. For more info visit:




3 – Peace Not War Live Music Room At The Synergy Project. A five-room

spectacular at SeOne Club, with a diverse showcase of positive anti-

war musicians. Contact or 07905 514049. See also


4 – Northern Anarchist Network Conference. Speakers will include

Dennis Pye on history of syndicalism with special reference to Tom

Mann and Bolton. There will also be a discussion on the 70th

anniversary commemoration in Manchester of the Spanish Revolution.

Wood Street Socialist Club, Bolton 10am- 5pm.


4 – Justice for Nuur Saeed. Demonstrate at 2pm, Plumstead Police

Station, London SE18. This Saturday will see a picket of Plumstead

Police Station, South East London, to protest at the tragic and

suspicious death of 22 year old Somali man Nuur Saeed as a result of

a police operation.

For more info Email:


8 – Save Council housing - Mass Lobby and rally 12 noon Central Hall,

Westminster 020 7987 9989


14 – Bell-ringing demo at EDO arms factory, 4-6pm at EDO MBM, Home

Farm Rd, Moulsecoomb, Brighton. Bring bells to toll. Call 07891405923

or email for more details.


18 – London Anti-war Action Forum - a space where groups and

individuals can come together to talk about and plan actions (forming

ad hoc coalitions where appropriate).

2-5pm, London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street,

Whitechapel, London E1 1ES (nearest tube Aldgate East).

For more info 0845 458 2564, e-mail



22 – March 20 It will be ten years from the first eviction of the No

M66 Campaign in February 2006. There will be an exhibition about the

No M66 Campaign, at the Basement Social Center, Lever Street,



23 – Film: The Battle of Algiers - with many contemporary resonances,

this rarely shown black and white film from the 60's has become

something of a classic, with beautiful cinematography and a wonderful

musical score to go with it.

Haringey Independent Cinema will be showing this. The cinema is on

the last Thursday of each month and presently at the West Green

Learning Centre in West Green Road, N15. Doors open 7.15, film starts

at 7.30. Tickets are £3/£2 (low or unwaged). They will be going to

the Fountain pub afterwards to chat about the films, socialise and

have a drink.


23 – London Radical History Group presents The Radical History of

Cycling. The subversive nature of bikes, trikes and penny farthings

revealed. 56a INFO SHOP 56 Crampton St, London, SE17 (Elephant &

Castle tube)

For more info email:





The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle

anarchists aiming to abolish capitalism and all oppression to

create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism.

We see today's society as being divided into two main opposing

classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth,

and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By

racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and

environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the

direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and

ultimately overthrow capitalism.


As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must

be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it, such as

working through parliament and national liberation movements, as they

fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of

the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them they

will be unable to bring about capitalism's destruction unless they go

beyond these limits.


Organisation is vital if we're to beat the bosses, so we work for a

united anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of

Anarchist Federations.


The Anarchist Federation has members across Britain and Ireland

fighting for the kind of world outlined above.


If you're interesting in joining contact us at:


Anarchist Federation,

BM Anarfed, London,



Also visit: and


Subscriptions to resistance costs £4 from the address above for 12

issues. A two issue subscription to our magazine, Organise! for

revolutionary anarchism, is also £4.


You can subscribe to resistance by email for free via