Snippets and fragments from across the globe

It’s been a fair while since I wrote anything on here, and while I still don’t have anything particularly original to say, the last few weeks have seen quite a few developments that seem worth taking note of.
Starting in the UK, the sparks’ struggle is continuing with a lot of protests against NG Bailey, while the prospect of an official national strike against Balfour Beatty slowly draws nearer, and there’s talk of a mass walkout if anyone’s sacked during the next few weeks. Adam Ford fears that the large number of workers who’ve already signed up to the new contracts, combined with Unite’s pushing the remainder to sign, means that this struggle has now been defeated. The coming weeks will show whether this is too gloomy a view or not.
In Liverpool, last week saw a violent attack by police on an anti-cuts protest, various reports of the incident are collected here. In more positive news, the government seems to be backing down on its Higher Education Bill; the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts are claiming this as a major victory for the student movement, which I find somewhat strange considering how much weaker that movement is now than in late 2010, when it failed to stop the raise in fees and cuts to EMA, but who knows? On a smaller scale, this week’s also seen a welcome victory for militant anti-fascists in Bristol, who successfully “took” a pub that was being used for an EDL meet-up. Also cheering is the news that Wandsworth Council have decided to back down on their attempts to evict the family of someone involved in last summer’s riots. On the industrial front, next week sees national strike action by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs staff, and we’re in the middle of a week-long strike by petrol tanker drivers in North Lincolnshire. More chillingly, we’ve also seen an industrial tribunal confirm that it’s legal to blacklist militant agency workers.
Looking to Europe, things have been heating up in Italy, where the “pitchforks movement” brought much of Sicily to a standstill for a few days, and today also sees a general strike called by the country’s various grassroots syndicalist unions, supported by the Federation of Anarchist Communists. Over in the east, mass protests are ongoing in Romania. And, of course, events in Greece are always dramatic, with recent developments including the occupation of a sweetshop, and a big strike in Athens in solidarity with the inspirational steelworker’s strike which is now close to entering its third month.
Elsewhere, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the first anniversary of the Tahrir Square protests which started Egypt’s unfinished revolution. Daily News Egypt carried quite a reasonable article on the emergence of anarchism as a serious current, and CrimethInc have a good report looking at the wider situation. As someone who’s been critical of some of their stuff, I think it’s important to recognise that CrimethInc carry some very good material: their latest piece on Egypt doesn’t attempt to ignore the role of workplace struggle in the way their historical review did (I’m pretty sure they’re still wrong about saying the cigarette roller’s union founded in 1899 was Egypt’s first, but that’s a relatively minor quibble), and the Empire Has No Clothes, their piece looking ahead at 2012, is also pretty sound, and features a more nuanced take on the English riots.
Meanwhile, Working Class Self Organisation has reports on a massive hunger strike in Kyrgyzstan’s jails, and plans for a massive strike by a hundred million workers in India. Unrest in China has the potential to kick off massively this year, as there’s already been big strikes and land protests, and the Economist have an in-depth look at the possibility of a major upheaval.
Finally, over in the USA, it’s looking as if the International Longshore Workers’ Union may have negotiated an end to the long-running dispute in Longview, Washington, although nothing’s certain until the workers affected vote on a deal. The Black Orchid Collective have a number of pieces on the inter-union conflict that’s erupted in the ILWU over the last month, where union officials attacked an ILWU solidarity event organised by Occupy Seattle, an event also discussed by a member of the Seattle Solidarity Network here. Finally, Viewpoint Mag has an interesting piece by a member of the Midnight Notes collective looking at Occupy and workers, and suggesting some lessons might be learnt from the experience of autonomia in Italy.

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About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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