Friday, July 30, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Truck Drivers defiant despite conscription orders in Greece Jul 29 2010

Truck drivers carrying fuel stand their ground and continue their strike
against the austerity measures despite the government calling a civil
conscription on them

The fuel carrying truck drivers strike which started on Monday in response
to a special "reform", part and parcel of the austerity measures, that
will see individual ownership abolished and replaced by large firms, has
been the first strike crisis facing the greek government after the signing
of the EU-IMF structural adjustment agreement. As a result of the strike
at the moment of writing all but a few gas stations across the country
stand dry and shut, with serious problems caused in boat and bus transport
as well as in individual car transport at the peak of the summer exodus
from the cities. The strike is believed to be hampering the tourist
industry which has reported a virtual freeze on reservations from abroad.

The government's response to the strike has been to call the truck drivers
for dialogue on the condition they stop the strike. The truck drivers
refusal to attend such onerous negotiations led yesterday evening the PM
to announce a civil conscription of the drivers and their trucks, an
authoritarian administrative measure equivalent to forced labour in pain
of prison. The truck drivers response has been defiant: last night after
the announcement of civil conscription drivers pulled their trucks to
blockade the oil refineries of Thessaloniki and Aspropyrgos (Athens),
while at the moment of writing a demo outside the Ministry of Transport is
forming in protest to the authoritarian administrative decision. Faced
with resistance the government has not yet used force to force
conscription with truck-driver reps announcing: "We continue. Let them
take us to prison. We have nothing to more to lose. If the government
thinks that after two days of strike it can move to such measures instead
choosing dialogue, it carries all responsibility" .

The response of the Left to the crisis has been bitter. The KKE (Communist
Party) asked in Parliament if the government intends to reopen
exile-island concentration camps for dissidents, while the Radical Left
Coalition has called the conscription a "July coup d' etat" and the
government policy "colonialist". Civil conscription of workers has
occurred again under the Republic at least three times, in 1979 (bank
workers), 1986 (airspace control officers) and 2006 (dock-workers).

Jul 29 2010 13:40

Update: The truck driver demo outside the Ministry of Transport in Athens
was attacked earlier today by riot police forces shooting tear gas against
the protesters. According to mainstream news the lack of fuel has already
led to problems of delivering supplies to supermarkets across the country.
The government is yet to implement civil conscription which could really
derail the situation. According to the news at the moment less than 5 gas
stations in greater Athens hold fuel.

What is civil conscription?


At this moment, the socialist government of PASOK has just ordered the
so-called "civil conscription" of lorry drivers, who have been on strike
for a fourth consecutive day. International media described this as an
"emergency order", but it is well worth to look a bit deeper into this
measure, as it is now likely that it will concern us time and time again
during the forthcoming winter.

(text below shamelessly copied and translated from corporate media)

What is civil conscription?

Civil conscription (politiki epistratefsi) is the conscription of personal
services, that is, the compulsory provision of personal services of those
conscripted – and it can be called based on Law Decree 17/1974 "Regarding
the Political Planning of State of Emergency". The decree in question
states that a state of emergency is every sudden situation caused either
by physical or other events or anomalies of every kind and which results
in the obstruction and disruption of the country's financial and social

More specifically, article 18 of the 17/1974 Decree allows the civil
conscription of personal in the case of their political mobilisation. The
Decree was issued before the 1975 Constitution and is [therefore] based
upon the Constitution of 1952.

Conscription procedures

Everyone called to offer their services are issued with a "personal invite
to political conscription". The responsibility for the overseeing of this
procedure falls with the local prefectures.


Refusing to accept the conscription letter has legal consequences. In this
case, the emergency court procedure is initiated (autoforo) and those who
refuse the letter must be arrested and stand trial. In the case that the
recipient of the letter is absent, the letter must be pasted on their
front-door and the recipients must be immediately located by the police.

Chronicle of civil conscriptions

- 1979- conscription of bank clerks, as their strike had "paralysed" the
banking sector.

- 1983- conscription of the drivers of road tankers.

- 1986- conscription of the flying mechanics of Olympic Airways

- 1994- conscription of the buses of civilians who were co-operating with
the Transport Organisation of Athens

- 2002- civil conscription of the striking dockworkers, following the
serious problems caused by the isolation of the greek islands

- 2006- civil conscription of the striking dockworkers

Jul 30 2010 15:32

Update: In yet another defiant move, the truck drivers have decided today
to continue their strike. The president of the union declared after the
conclusion of the general assembly: "We continue, we have not come here to
mourn our summer vacation leave". The truck drivers are reported to have
hailed the decision in festive mode singing "our president is mad!",
forming a protest march to the Parliament to deliver their decision. The
official announcement of the union underlined: "There is no tomorrow, our
only hope is in the strike".

At the same time the conscription measures have collapsed both due to the
resistance of the truck drivers who are finding ever more ingenious ways
of not being found (the order must be personally delivered) and because of
the masses of paperwork involved having caused the system to collapse upon
its own dead weight. The government has summoned a meeting of national and
local authorities to discuss the implementation of the conscription. The
Coalition of the Radical Left has urged the government to withdraw the law
as the only way out of the crisis. At the time of writing less than 50 gas
stations have remaining fuel reserves in Athens for over 5 million

Jul 30 2010 20:57

Update3: Clashes erupted late this afternoon between truck drivers and
riot police units in Thessaloniki when the former formed a blockade to
stop a scabbing lorry from taking fuel out of the main oil refinery of the
region. during the clashes 5 strikers were injured. At the same time the
government has announced that it will take all legal measures against the
defiant strikers, including canceling their work permits, while at the
same time mobilising the armed forces to supply petrol to hospitals,
electricity producing units and other public facilities, while the Navy
will try to cover supplies to stranded islands. At the same time the
government is mobilising all its media strings in order to vilify the
strike and excuse its dictatorial measures against it.

Greece turns to military to restore fuel supplies

By DEREK GATOPOULOS, Associated Press Jul 30, 2010

ATHENS, Greece – Greece said Friday it will use military trucks, navy
vessels and commandeered fuel tankers to restore gasoline supplies cut by
a strike that has hurt the country's industry and vital tourism trade at
the height of vacation season.

Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis told The Associated Press that the
emergency plan would take effect "as quickly as possible" to insure that
vital public services were not affected by the protest, which is in its
fifth day.

Earlier, striking truckers vowed to continue their protest in defiance on
an emergency order to return to work.

Clashes broke out at an oil refinery in northern Greece leaving two people
hurt, police said, after strikers clashed with riot police while trying to
block a government-seized truck from leaving.

Greece is racing to push through austerity measures needed to secure
continued international rescue loans to prop up its debt-strapped economy,
with the next loan installment due in mid-September.

Inspectors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund are
currently in Athens to review progress of cost-cutting reforms.

"The law will be upheld," Petalotis said. "Our information is that most
mobilization notices have now been handed out. Those who do not comply are
violating the law and can lose their operating license and face the
consequences of criminal prosecution."

The truckers have rejected a compromise offer by the government to offset
the financial impact of liberalizing their closed-shop profession.
Click image to see photos of clash in Athens


Sweeping labor reforms targeting previously protected professional groups
follow months of strikes and protests over other belt-tightening measures
that included sale tax hikes, and cuts in pensions and civil service pay
â€" all in the midst of recession that has seen unemployment spike to
around 12 percent.

The fuel strike has hurt Greek industry and tourism, with shortages likely
to affect travel this weekend.

"This is a catastrophe. The decision was taken on the busiest day of the
year, at peak season ... I don't know what's worse, what is actually
happening today or the bad publicity this is giving us," George Telonis,
head of the Greek Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies, told The
Associated Press.

"The season so far has not gone too badly, with about a 3 percent drop on
the year, despite all the strikes and difficulties ... because we have a
very strong product. But I am very worried that damage will be done if
this strike continues," he added.

He said the fuel strike will hammer last-minute bookings and popular
holiday excursions to beaches and ancient sites.

Hoteliers at resorts in northern Greece, which are mostly accessed by car,
have reported a steeper drop in bookings this year — more than 15 percent,
according to their associations.

"We are helping customers find open gas stations so that they can get
home," said Grigoris Tasios, head of the Halkidiki Hotel Association, of
resorts in northern Greece. "About one or two gas stations are currently
supplied in a 50-kilometer (30-mile) radius, when normally there would be
at least 10."

George Amvrazis, managing director of the Greek Hotel Federation, said the
strikes had already tarnished Greece's image.

"This has taken a toll on mainland resorts. You won't set out to a resort
if you're not sure if you can fill up your gas tank," Amvrazis said. "This
current protest, together with all the others, has set the Greece brand
back for years."

Friday, July 23, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Don't Mourn, Organize (Puget Sound area grocery workers)

From: (OWLS)
Date: Thu, July 22, 2010 9:46 pm

Dear friend of working people,

What do grocery clerks, school bus drivers, and employees at
Seattle Housing Authority have in common? They are all living the
advice of famous labor agitator Mother Jones who urged workers to
organize, and not accept low wages and lousy working conditions.

Learn about efforts to win union representation at First
Student, and a fair contract for 21,000 Puget Sound area grocery
workers at QFC, Fred Meyer, Albertson?s, Safeway, Metropolitan Market
and independent stores, represented by United Food and Commercial
Workers (UFCW) Local 21. Their contract, bargained by Local 21,
expired in May and is in "extension." So far, there is no real
progress in coming to a fair and just settlement. Also, the grocery
workers "BILL OF RIGHTS" will be presented and available in petition
form for all who want to sign on their support. More than 41,000
residents and grocery workers from across Puget Sound have signed on
to this important initiative that will ultimately be presented to the
corporations at bargaining sessions. Be a part of the action!!

Bring news of your own labor campaign, and join rank-and-file
labor activists in a discussion on how to collaborate and coordinate
efforts to strengthen workers rights throughout Puget Sound at the
next meeting of Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity.


Monday, July 12, 2010

[olympiaworkers] A new book by a Wobbly

Please forward to other lists

Greetings All,

   Black Cat Publishers has just finished publishing a book I wrote called "Yardbird Blues; 25 Years of a Wobbly in the Maritime Industry". The term "Yardbird" is an old term that longshore workers and ship's crews used for those that came on to the ships to repair them.  

  The book is about real workplace experiences and issues in the maritime industry such as: workplace safety, general working conditions, environmentalism and how to begin to make earth safe ships, the bosses, the unions, different types of ships, the great danger to workers and the environment of FOC ships and more. All that from the viewpoint of a Wobbly shipyard worker..

  The chapters are: The Blues; The Making of a Yardbird; Down Houston Way; Types of Maritime Vessels; Making Dreams Real; Blues Again; Green's Bayou; Improving Goods; Asbestos, the Dust of Death, Speed Up and Die!; Working on the Mississippi River and Louisiana Jack; The 1985 New Orleans Waterfront Metal Trades Strike; Pains in My Wrists; Meeting Up with Todd Again; It's a Love Boat!; Fire on the Water; Such a Foolish Notion; Environmentalism and the Maritime Industry; In the Belly of a Love Boat, or I got them Old Fireroom Blues Again; Greed Upon the Oceans: Flag of Convenience Ships; Spiraling Downwards; Screwed Again; Dignity of Labor; What is the Value of a Worker's Life?; Health Care Should Be a Right, Not a Privilege; The IWW Centennial: One Shipyard Worker's Perspective.

  A number of parts of this book were articles that have been published in the IW, Bayou La Rose and other publications. The introduction was written by FW Carlos Cortez before he passed away.

  The book can be ordered for $12.00 from::Bulk copies are $7.00

Black Cat Press                                                          4508 118 Avenue                                                 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5W 1A9          

  I wish to thank the people at Black Cat Press for publishing this book and the hard work they put into making it look so good.

  This is the first book in a series of books that I hope to get published. The next one is in its final draft and was edited by Tacoma GMB Branch Secretary Leah Coakley. That book deals with other industries. After that one there may be a book on the modern IWW. That book would include my experiences in the IWW for 40 years and IWW related writings included: Organizing Solidarity, Duel Unionism, A New Union Vision, International Industrial Unionism, A Union For All Workers, Green Unionism, Organizing Tips, and more. Some of these essays have been rewritten from how they were before. It will be made clear in the introduction that this is just the writings of one Wobbly for only "A New Union Vision" was ever approved as official, though other pieces were approved by the Tacoma GMB. For those of you who like to worry about such things, none of this includes any of our internal conflicts.

  I base my writing on what I was taught by some old time Wobblies, in particular, FW Gibert Mers who encouraged me to write about what I know best. His book "Working the Waterfront" was a good example of writing about direct workplace experiences.

  The real purpose of my writting is not to get my views as an individual published, but rather to try to help encourage working people to speak for ourselves and to write about our direct workplace experiences. I believe strongly that this is a very important part in worker self-organization. Too often workers are talked down to as if we are just sheep to be led and that our only role is to be followers. I believe workers do understand our class situation and we understand industry and how to change it better than any would be leaders and that real workers' self-organization, that we control, is the only means to reach worker self-management. And to do that workers must speak for ourselves. Me, I am nothing more than a rebel Wobbly shipyard worker. 

  Many Wobblies have helped me over the years with my writings by proofreading, editing and making useful comments. I wish to acknowledge them and thank them for the help. And I wish to thank the IWW for being something that I could believe in and I will stay with the IWW until I pass from this world.

For The OBU

Arthur J. Miller

Ship Builders IU 320

Friday, July 09, 2010

[olympiaworkers] South African miners launch indefinite strike Jul 8 2010

Miners at four sites owned by Shanduka Resources Ltd have downed tools to
demand the equalisation of pay and working conditions.

Hundreds of miners are involved in the walkout, which has hit mines in
Springlake, Leeufontein, Graspan Colliery and Townlands. The indefinite
strike is backed by the South African National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Workers at different sites have varying terms and pay, and are subject to
separate bargaining arrangements. Workers at some sites do not receive
allowances and bonuses which are part of the terms at other sites; for
instance miners in Kwa-Zulu Natal receive a "living out" allowance that
those in Mpumalanga are denied.

The strike follows a wave of workers' struggles in South Africa, including
the Transnet transport workes' strike, wildcat bus workers' strikes,
postal strikes, walkouts by construction workers, and the high-profile
strike by match stewards during the world cup.

Shanduka Resources describes itself as "a leading African black owned and
managed investment company", and amongst its business principles are
"Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment" and the promotion of "social

Sunday, July 04, 2010

[olympiaworkers] A self-organised restaurant - Thessaloniki, Greece Jul 4 2010

From June 7th, the restaurant barthelonika in the centre of Thessaloniki
is working in a self-organised manner, run by its workers.

From June 7th, the restaurant barthelonika in the centre of Thessaloniki
is working in a self-organised manner, run by its workers. It all began
when the owner of the restaurant announced to the workers that the
restaurant will close for three months during summer and that he will
decide its fate in September. The workers, from their part, claim the
business is making profit and there is no reason for it to suspend its

And so, they made an informal agreement according to which the workers
themselves will take on the running of the restaurant for two months, in
order for them not to become unemployed.

Now, as they tell us, the restaurant barthelonika is "working normally
without bosses, managers and hierarchical relationships. We all decide
together about everything, we find suppliers and look after the place. In
this climate of crisis, if we accept the decisions of the bosses without
reaction we will be lead straight to abjection", they stress out.

Immediately after taking on the management of the restaurant, the workers
applied a 30% reduction on all dishes and have invited the society of
Thessaloniki to support this self-organised project. On Sunday the kitchen
of barthelonika is transferred to the Anti-racist Festival, where the
workers decided to attend and cook for its visitors.

translation of an article that was published in the greek newspaper "the
street" (O Dromos)

What follows is a translation of a text issued by the workers themselves
(greek original here) explaining their action and calling for solidarity.



Since Monday the 7th of June us, the workers at the restaurant
Barthelonika run the restaurant ourselves and for this reason, ask for the
help and the support of all the workers of Thessaloniki.

Two weeks ago the owners of the restaurant announced us that the
establishment was not going well and that it would close down for the
three summer months – and further, that it was uncertain wether it would
reopen in September and how many of us would work – and under what working
conditions. They also announced us that all the workers at the restaurant
would be fired immediately while firing compensations would only start to
be paid out in October… that is, of course, if they had any money to pay
the compensations out.

As workers in the food industry we know well that a firing in today's
circumstances of deep economic crisis and tough anti-workerist attacks
would mean our throwing out in the cold. For this reason we decided as
workers at the restaurant not to bow our heads and to take matters in our
own hands. We demanded and achieved from the management of the restaurant
to pay some expenses for the establishment and our own insurance – and we
now have taken on the management of the restaurant for the following two
months (June and July) while in August we have achieved to have our
holiday as normal.

As workers at the Barthelonika restaurant we are determined not to allow
the restaurant where we work to close but also, not to allow any
restaurant to close and no co-worker to bef ired. For this reason we stand
in solidarity with the just struggle of our co-workers at the Banquet

The restaurant Barthelonika will be under our control, through our general
assembly. Decisions concerning its running will be taken by majority and
will be respected by all us co-workers. Whatever remains from profit after
expenses will be distributed equally among all co-workers. All of us
co-workers will work the same hours, at the same positions where we were

We have also decided to offer a 30% reduction to all customers of the

We call for all workers, the youth and the people of Thessaloniki to
actively support our effort to run the restaurant, in order to save our
jobs and not to be thrown out to unemployment and misery.

The restaurant Barthelonika is in the centre of our city, at 3 Venizelou
Str in the Rogoti Arcade, 1st floor, tel. 2310 225 242

Opening hours: 11 am to 1 am. Closed on Sundays.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

[olympiaworkers] 3,000 strike at electronics factory in China Jul 1 2010

Production at the Tianjin Mitsumi Electric Co. factory in North China has
been crippled by strike action by workers.

The Japanese-owned plant employs 3,000 workers, and production was
completely halted earlier this week. The workers, many of whom are
economic migrants from rural China, hung banners on the factory gates
reading "Human traffickers are not welcome", "We want fair treatment", and
"We want a pay rise."

There were violent scenes at the factory gates as police attempted to
prevent journalists from talking to strikers, who had taken up positions
inside the factory complex. Police also used coaches to seal the site from
the view of press cameras. The increasing levels of industrial unrest in
China have been barely reported, and are subject to state censorship.

The walkout follows a wave of strike action in China, in the face of
investors making the most of low wages, a ruling Communist party which has
outlawed strikes, and official unions which violently suppress strike
action. Foreign companies with complex supply chains, such as Japanese
giants Honda and Toyota have recently seen production halted by workers'
struggles, as have US-based companies such as Ingersoll-Rand Plc, which
manufactures air-conditioning units. It follows growing numbers of what
the Chinese government calls "mass incidents" as workers grow in
confidence and assert their interests.

The strike by 1,900 workers at a Honda parts factory in Foshan, which also
saw clashes, ended following employers conceding a pay rise of 24 per
cent. A three-day strike by Toyota workers in Guangzhou also ended

[olympiaworkers] General Strike in Tahiti Jun 30 2010

On 15th June workers in 'French' Polynesia ended a general strike, which
was sustained for over a week. The strike was organised by a coalition of
11 unions using the name 'Collective for Peace'. With deteriorating social
and economic conditions in the already poor territory affecting a wide
range of workers, the strike gained support and achieved some degree of
success but fell short of its potential.

The strike was built around bread-and-butter calls for an end to job
losses, better wages, secure pensions, unemployment insurance and health
cost repayments for locals suffering from the effects of past nuclear
weapons tests. When negotiations broke down, the strike was declared and
workers moved swiftly to picket the main domestic and international
transport links. This included the disruption of international air flights
and the harbour operations in Papeete especially key ferry links between
Tahiti and Moorea. Workers at Mamao Hospital also joined, with essential
emergency services being maintained throughout. The public sector
teachers' union STIP added its support to the strike despite impending
examinations. STIP argued that in current circumstances it would be
pointless for students to have exams and then no jobs to go to when they

The strike was finally called off during its second week, after President
Gaston Tong Sang agreed to ask the United Nations' International Labour
Organisation to investigate the possibility of establishing an
unemployment fund. While this could be considered a partial victory for
what was a defensive strike to maintain and extend basic living
conditions, there were clearly flaws in the strike. On a positive note, by
workers in strategic sectors taking the initiative, they showed where real
power lies, since nothing can operate for long without transportation and
socially significant facilities such as hospitals and schools. On the
other hand, major trade unions in the private sector failed to support the
strike and groups such as the Union for Youth tried to discourage student
involvement. Without universal recognition that an injury to one is an
injury to all, no strike can succeed for long let alone provide a
springboard for greater action.

Likewise, though it is possible to make small gains here and there,
putting faith in union leaders, governments and the UN to solve the deeper
problems of the economy in Tahiti or anywhere is misguided. Professional
union leaders often use their positions as a means of personal advancement
and take direct control out of the hands of those they claim to represent.
Governments whether elected or not are comprised of a minority of
parasites that rely on the labour of the vast majority for their
positions. As for the UN, it has always worked in the interests of the
elite within the rich countries, with nothing being done unless it suits
them and often with terrible results as in Iraq. The requirements of the
poor on a remote neo-colony don't feature highly on their list of places
to bother with. The only people with a genuine interest and ability to
deal with the fundamental cause of economic decay are those suffering its
effects at the bottom internationally, not those who perpetuate the system
that creates that decay.

The workers of Tahiti have shown what is possible when the working class
organise to defend the limited benefits we possess. That's a start. The
task ahead in 'French' Polynesia, in Aotearoa/New Zealand and globally is
to extend such struggles with the aim of overturning the whole system of

This article is from the July 2010 issue of Solidarity, free monthly
newsheet of the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement. Read the rest of the
issue online or download a .pdf at the AWSM website.