IWA Conference in Leon (Spain)


From the 13-15 of August the IWA (International Workers' Association) Conference entitled "Precarious work, Self-management and Cooperatives" took place in “La Vecilla” in León (Spain).

More than a hundred workers of different ages and from different countries took part, as did the Secretary of the IWA from the NSF in Norway. There were comrades from the Polish ZSP, Slovaks from PA, KRAS from Russia, USI from Italy, SolFed from England, FAU from Germany, CNT from France, SP from Portugal, the Spanish CNT. Later Peruvians comrades from the paper "Humanidad" joined and their were greetings from the comrades from FORA Argentina.

The organization on the part of the CNT-AIT from Leon was perfect. There was an extraordinary atmosphere between the comrades from all over the world since our homeland is the world and our family is all of humanity. The event was self-managed and everybody took part in the activities and the infrastructure. People spoke in French, English, German, Italian, Russian and even Galician-Portuguese or Esperanto, with no problems, everybody on equal terms.

The 13th dealt with "Anarchosyndicalism and precarious work"

1) The General State of Things: After the chair was chosen, our Secretary of the IWA from the NSF, people from the various organizations spoke. First there was a comrade from ZSP from Poland who described a situation of high job insecurity, much like the sitution in Slovakia which the comrades from Priama Akcia later described. The Italian USI said that since 93, workers rights are being cut, with the collaboration of the official trade unions rights. There are more temporary employment agencies, there was a direct action against IKEA, etc ... A comrade from the Portuguese section of the IWA spoke of the law of August 1 which gives fewer rights to workers in companies nationalized after April 25. The comrades from Solidarity Federation described the 20 years of a "flexibile market" strategy to keep wages low.

The Norwegian comrade explained how rights were being cut... they have an unemployment rate of 4% which is a lot for them. The CNT from France described rising unemployment and precariousness, trying to organize the precarious. FAU talked about labor reform, increased insecurity in both health and transport and how the mainstream unions do nothing. Finally, the Spanish CNT represented by the union of Granada, described what happened in Spain after the "real estate racket" with 4 million people laid off. What they described as a bleak picture.

The floor was then given to the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) which intervened to say that effectively the same economic conditions are being given throughout the world, that we can only mend the problems and therefore the only alternative is to make social revolution together with all the workers of the world.

In the afternoon the comrades from Priama Akcia from Slovakia made a report. Afterwards were the comrades from Croatia with more concrete experiences. The Portuguese section talked about how the crisis favors going from conformism to revolt to social revolution, and reported from of a factory in Arcos de Valdevez, where the workers took over and where 40 of them self-manage the work. The ZSP, which works with precarious workers, especially in food services, was won a number of conflicts with direct action. The CNT of Granada reported on two conflicts: Vincci and ASM.

2) Definition of the Main Problems for Syndicalist Action: Struggles, Concrete Examples of Self-organization, Results and Lessons Learned

The CNT in Zaragoza reported on the conflicts at Start People and Ryanair. Then Russian KRAS presented us a very complex situation where, according to their data, 2 million workers come to Moscow each year, only 200,000 of whom are legal, mostly from the republics from the east, causing perpetual insecurity for those people, where mafias operate without control, where the fear is common. They spoke of a supermarket where the workers went on strike; the KRAS supported it and publicized the conflict, but the police used the "anti-extremist laws" to intervene against the workers. Also KRAS explained that it has no legal status and that it is very difficult to get legalized at this time.

Then came the turn of the FAU, which reported on the conflict at Babylon Cinema in Berlin, the problems it encountered along the way with the "delegalization" of the union and the great victory achieved with international solidarity.

On the 14th, the Polish ZSP presented a paper on immigration which was discussed by the various delegations with great interest.

3) Discussion of Possible Proposals for a Common Strategy of the IWA

Here there were different interventions of the international sections on how to organize precarious workers, and also about the pros and cons that come with actions related to this topic. Participants from the sections presented their positions and mandates and discussed this point.

On Sunday the 15th, the USI presented its proposal for self-management based on solidarity and class pride. The SP spoke of a number of experiences in Portugal and Porto Setúbal. USI also explained the experiences of 30 years of the cooperative IRISBIO, one of the leading brands of organic agriculture, which maintains contact with USI.

In the afternoon after visiting the Vegarada trenches, where the comrades of the CNT fought during the Spanish Revolution of 1936-39, the conference was closed, much to the heartache of all its participants.

Translated from:

Spanish version based on the text of CNT Galicia:

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