27th IWA Congress in Melbourne concluded

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
Jan 2 2020 05:56
27th IWA Congress in Melbourne concluded

The 27th Congress of the IWA concluded in Melbourne on Monday 30 December.

With the admission of four new sections from Bangladesh (BASF), India (MEM), Indonesia (PPAS) and Sweden (OLS) the IWA saw its largest expansion in decades.

The Congress welcomed the new sections and celebrated the inclusion of new sections from the Asia-Pacific region, the largest number of sections from that region of the world in the entire history of the IWA.

Greetings were read from Young Workers Association(GİDER) and Revolutionary Anarchist Action
(DAF) from Turkey and Kurdish-speaking Anarchist Forum (KAF) in Iraq as well as greetings from IWA secctions that were unable to attend.

A comrade from Grupo Cultural Etudios Sociales de Melbourne paid tribute to the work of the CNT exiles who arrived in Melbourne during 1962-66 in a brief presentation.

Organisations from Aotearoa (NZ), Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Columbia, France, India, Indonesia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK were involved in the 27th Congress.

The 27th Congress re-affirmed the principles of anarcho-syndicalism and looks to further expansion into South America, North Africa and the Asia -Pacific region in the lead up to the Centenary Congress in 2022.

Joined: 30-04-06
Jan 2 2020 10:55

Will the IWA be publishing more information about the new affiliates? I'd be very interested to hear more about them. I'm guessing none are actually revolutionary unions?

Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
Jan 2 2020 15:04
I'm guessing none are actually revolutionary unions?

Yes, you would be guessing.

The BASF is an anarcho-syndicalist union in Bangladesh comprised largely of women agricultural workers employed on tea plantations. The BASF also engage in educational activities which includes the translation of texts by Rocker and Maximoff into Bengali greatly assisted by student members based at tertiary institutions in Bangladesh.

It isn't too difficult to find out about the BASF for those who are interested;


The PPAS is an anarcho-syndicalist union in Indonesia based mainly in Jakarta and Surabaya as well as Tangerang, Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta Pekalongan, Maduin and other smaller places across Java. More recently expanding into Eastern Sumatra, East Kalimantan and Suluwesi. PPAS also engage in educational activities holding conferences and presentations on anarcho-syndicalism.

Last May, the National Police (POLRI) falsely accused the PPAS of fomenting violence at the May Day rally in Bandung willingly assisted by the Indonesian mainstream media







This propaganda against anarcho-syndicalism attempts to portray anarcho-syndicalism as a violent foreign ideology bent on mindless destruction as opposed to a thoughtful and considered method of replacing the government of people with the administration of things.

The PPAS has chosen to ignore the lies told about them by POLRI and their friends in the mainstream media and instead focus on building unions through initiatives such as Asasiosi Pekerja Pabrik (Factory Workers Association) in Jakarta and Asasiosi Pekerja Restoran (Hospitality Workers Association) in Surabaya.

OLS is a smaller organisation previously a Friends section based in Sweden whereas MEM is a Friends section based in Bhopal with a focus on raising the awareness of anarcho-syndicalism through a variety of educational activities.

For those interested in more information, searching on Google is a useful starting point.

Joined: 30-04-06
Jan 2 2020 17:11

Cool, so the new Bangladeshi and Indonesian sections are supposedly revolutionary unions but the new Swedish and Indian sections are not? I'd guess the chances of the OLS actually becoming a revolutionary union in the same country as the SAC are minimal at best but there's presumably reasons to be optimistic about the prospect for MEM's growth. Does that sound fair?

I've just had a quick look at BASF's website and there doesn't seem to be any evidence they're actually a revolutionary union or are involved in organising workers.

There's a lot of articles about anarchist theory in English and only a handful of articles in Bengali (which should be concerning). From some quick use of Google Translate it looks like they've supported a strike organised by another union and have published some articles on working conditions in the tea industry, but there is nothing published in the last year about their own organising. Are they actually organising groups of workers to collectively improve their workplace conditions? If they are fantastic, if they're not then they can't be described as a union.

Joined: 29-09-06
Jan 2 2020 23:17

A clarification - there is no such thing as a Friends Section - simply Friends. We look forward to their development as a workers' organization and encourage it, just like we encourage all comrades to develop their efforts in this area.

If we would like to guess here, I would guess that many posters on Libcom these days actually have a different idea of revolutionary unionism that do the more anarchosyndicalist based comrades of the IWA, probably both differing in the concept of what a union is (or should be) and what the revolution should actually look like. With this in mind, personally I think posting any news here just leads back to such comments and debates which I find too time-consuming and not too beneficial. If any people would be interested in what the Sections of the IWA are doing, they should check out their websites, keeping in mind that sometimes there is more than is on the website. For example, the reason that the BASF website is mostly in English is that it was set up more to put them in contact with the world than to be used by the local organization. I've been there and one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that the vast majority of workers in that organization live in very bary conditions, certainly without laptops and internet in their huts. A few of them are exceptions and maintain the website, but not for communication nationally.

Enough said. The participants of the Congress considered it to be successful and look forward to a future of fruitful cooperation with the new Sections and Friends and we are sure to have new affiliates shortly.

Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
Jan 2 2020 23:46

With regard to the BASF organising collectively to improve their workplace conditions which you use as a measure to define a union, they are. At least according to the testimony of the two PPAS delegates who attended the BASF conference in September 2019. I'd be very interested to hear about how you define a union. I'm guessing that this international meeting of anarcho-syndicalists was the first one that featured not a single person from Europe and/or America which, I'm sure you would agree, is fantastic if not cool..

With regard to revolutionary unions, you imply the SAC is a revolutionary union. I can't agree. At any rate, I think there is a significant difference between revolutionary unions and anarcho-syndicalist unions and that is their attitude to complicity with State institutions. Using the terms interchangably is sloppy and leads to confusion. Further, I would contend that all reformist unions are not real unions, merely brokers of labour.

Anarcho-syndicalism is a method or organising informed by the ideas of anarchism that has as its goal a workers revolution that seeks to replace the government of people with the administration of things. Those who hold the view that these new IWA sections are not real unions are entitled to their opinions. I would contend that there can be no successful revolution without the involvement of workers from where a good two-thirds of them live.

Joined: 22-03-18
Jan 3 2020 08:49

I am cordially inviting here MR. JIM to visit Bangladesh to see BASF activitie. capitalist and state control internet based website will never represent actual Picture of revolutionary AnarchoSyndicalist BASF' s activities. no one have the right to comment without investigation. mr. jim hearts our workers and friends and feeling bad to see Jim' nagative comments on BASF. Mr. jim please Don't Heart our comrades and friends. we are NOT responsible to prevent you as section of IWA.
Long live Anarcho-Syndicalism!!
BASF, Bangladesh

( my English language is not strong, so sorry for poor remarks)

comradeEmma's picture
Joined: 27-04-18
Jan 3 2020 09:59

What is Sweden (OLS)? I have not heard of it in Sweden.

EDIT: Now I get that it is suppose to be an Ö, for LS Örestad. It has always been an organisation that has fascinated me because from my understanding it is a split from SAC because they considered SAC to not be anarcho-syndicalist enough. Very curious how large it actually is because it seems very small and doesn't seem to have a big presence in Malmö.

Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 4 2020 03:26

Wish the Asian comrades all the luck. They have many mountains to climb.

altemark's picture
Joined: 22-07-07
May 4 2020 15:48

From my understanding they've got around 100 members. At least a few years back they had an active syndicate for cultural workers, and a workplace section, which cooperated with the SAC culture, it and media workers syndicate.