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USI involvement in RSUs

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syndicalist
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Dec 13 2006 10:27
USI involvement in RSUs

Perhaps this would be a subject open for discussion as well.

I figured that the matter of the USI would be a "make or break" one for the IWA. What I'm curious about is what was the view or position taken by comrades in regards to the USI's on-going participation in the RSU? And how does their participation in the RSU differ much from CNT-Vignoles participation in work place committees or for that matter from the Spanish CGT's?

This question is not meant in a hostile way. I'm merely trying to get a sense of how this contradictory situation was discussed and resolved. While I may not share the USI's point of view, I wouldn't want to see them (or the FAU for that matter) booted from the IWA.

Steve
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Dec 13 2006 10:43

Firstly the USI argue that the RSUs are different than the workplace committees that the Vignoles and the CGT-E participate in. They also say their partial participation, in them (not all of USI participate) is tactical and that they are actively seeking an alternative to them. They still organise workplace meetings unlike the others.

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madashell
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Dec 13 2006 10:45

Sorry if this is a daft question, but what's an RSU when it's at home?

Steve
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Dec 13 2006 10:49
Jack wrote:
IWA people - Is the USI Q&A about the RSUs that we got for congress private, or can it be shown, because I think it'd be useful and illuminating on this issue.

My position is (roughly) that USI are *probably* wrong to participate and it seems like a mistake, but it's a tactical choice that doesn't violate any rules or principles. Given this, I respect the right of my comrades to make mistakes!

Not sure about the first part of your question but the second part is what the Congress decided. As I said the USI themselves seem to be admiting it was a bit of an error as they have been pulling out and those still in are looking to get out.

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Steven.
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Dec 13 2006 11:15
madashell wrote:
Sorry if this is a daft question, but what's an RSU when it's at home?

They are some kind of works council that union reps in Italy get elected to. I believe they are non-recallable, and some in the IWA say they are comparable to the works councils the CGT-E were expelled from the CNT for participating in.

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madashell
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Dec 13 2006 11:24

Ah, cheers. Thought it'd be something like that, but wasn't so sure.

So it's equivalent to, say, a SolFed member going for a position as a full-timer?

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Steven.
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Dec 13 2006 11:44
madashell wrote:
So it's equivalent to, say, a SolFed member going for a position as a full-timer?

No, because they're not full-timers. AFAIK they're just workers but these councils are given the "right" to negotiate on behalf of workers, when elected by them.

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madashell
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Dec 13 2006 11:51

Ah. Having trouble seeing exactly where the fuss is, but I obviously don't know enough here to comment.

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Steven.
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Dec 13 2006 11:54
madashell wrote:
Ah. Having trouble seeing exactly where the fuss is, but I obviously don't know enough here to comment.

The problem - in Spain at least - is that members of these unions get elected to represent their fellow workers, and can negotiate and make deals behind closed doors, with no power of recall from the people who elected them.

A key part of anarcho-syndicalism (and anarchism/libcomism) is that struggle should always be self-organised, based on mass assemblies, and delegation with recall, not term-elected representation, so the power is always with the grassroots.

Some in the IWA fear these Italian ones are the same.

syndicalist
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Dec 13 2006 13:51

I have to be brief at the moment. I've read the IWA Q & A to the USI and will, respectfully, say the differences are nuanced.

The question of tactical flexibility was at the core of the original split in the Spanish CNT. Apparently the USI has been able to come up with some form of internal compromise in dealing with this.

More later.

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JDMF
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Dec 13 2006 14:07

it struck me that USI wants to find alternatives, but until such alternatives are found they will stay in the RSUs in some of their syndicates. People from outside of USI hoping that they would stop cant offer much in terms of alternative ideas and practical advice, apart from maybe CNT-E (this is what i meant by that throwaway comment in the other thread about organisation sizes).

Personally i am not fussed, but then again i am the resident reformist wink

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Dec 13 2006 22:42

What does "RSU" stand for? Is this a government defined body like the Comite de Empresa in Spain?

Some anarcho-syndicalists or libertarian left-influenced workers in some organizations in Spain have tried a practice of using signed letters of resignation held by the local union, so that if a delegate elected to a comite de empresa didn't do what the assembly wanted, they would be "resigned." Some union slates were elected on an assemblyist platform, meaning that they would refuse to make the decisions for the workers on the comite de empresa but invoke an assembly to make the decision. This was the method of the CNT unions on the Barcelona subway (now a part of CGT) and at SEAT (also now a part of CGT) in early 1980s, as well as of the Port Sevedores Federation (Coordinadora).

The CGT on the subway in Barcelona apparently still takes the "let the workers decide" stance, at least according to their website. An example of why the comites are a problem is shown by the 2003 contract struggle on the bus systtem in Barcelona. A petition of 1,200 of the 2,500 workers demanded the right to vote on the contract via a mass assembly, but a small meeting of only 60 people was called by some of the unions on the comite and approval by that meeting was used as the excuse to sign the contract without approval by a large open meeting of the workers.

t.

syndicalist
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Dec 18 2006 05:36

I'm curious if there's a comrade from the French CNT-AIT here? They were part of the process of interviewing the USI on this question. be curious to hear their impressions, etc. since this "tactical flexibility" was also an issue which split the French CNT-AIT asunder in the mid-1990s.

Also, delegates are elected to fixed terms (but can be recalled and replaced by the next USI member on their list--byut not sure if they mean alternate delegate or from a list of candidates who ran for office.The RSU union delegates are paid for carrying out union activities on work time (only).

Perhaps it can be said that the way the RSU functions is a bit looser than in Spain or in France. Yet on the surface (my Italian is very poor) they seem very similiar.

There was an implication elsewhere that the USI was looking at pulling of the RSU. I read the materials and it seems like some USI section's are and some may not. So I supose a follow-up would be , what if the USI continues its experiment in enaging in "tactical flexibility"? Does it mean they will be "allowed" to carry on with it? Does it acknowledge the right of Section's to engage in "tactical flexibility" as the need arises?

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 18 2006 05:57

The Comites de Empresas (CEs) in Spain are government-created entities (authorized via labor law) so workers don't control the rules. The CEs have the legal right to sign contracts without holding a workplace assembly and taking a ratification vote, I gather. The delegates elected to the CEs get 40 hours per month off with pay, paid by the employer I believe. Historically, the CEs are derived from the lowest level of the old fascist trade union. Are the RSUs in Italy government-created entities like the CEs?

To its credit, CGT-E (or sections of it) still tries to ensure that an assembly is held. For example, this was the source of a major conflict in Barcelona at the time of the 2003 contract struggle on the TMB bus system. (TMB is the metro area transit authority.) The CGT organized a petition by 1,200 of the 2,500 workers demanding a mass meeting to discuss and vote on the contract. Certain of the unions (in particular the Workers Commission) held a small meeting of 60 people late in the evening, and because those people approved the contract, the majority on the CE signed the contract. Although the CGT is the largest of the 5 unions on the CE at the TMB bus system, it is a minority (7 out of 32 delegates) and was not able to block this. The Workers Commissions, for its part, accused the CGT of engaging in "physical attacks" -- apparently this is a common form of smear against anarchists in Spain. The CGT Transport Union on its website says this is a lie.

t.

Dundee_United
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Dec 18 2006 05:59

Could somebody tell me why engagement in works councils is always perceived to be a bad thing. It seems to me there could be a strategic role for it - for example as part of afraser's programme which was discussed to some extent about 10/11 months ago he posited using and extending works councils in the context of a wider dual power strategy - and the IWA is just being divisively ultra-leftist.

I think I'd start to worry if I was a member of an international federation that was having to purge a third of the main affiliates for a somewhat spurious point of ideological purity. I mean what happens when Europe, or indeed the world's anarcho-synidicalist movement is mostly NOT affiliated to the IWA? They'll become a laughing stock. It just all seems a little bit queer to be so full-on in what clearly has to be just a tactical question - have the ICC taken over? What next - expel all the real unions from the IWA because of their 'anti-working class nature', force the adoption of decadence theory?

magidd
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Dec 18 2006 07:10

Firstly the USI argue that the RSUs are different than the workplace committees that the Vignoles and the CGT-E participate in.

Comment
Firstly RSUs are exactly the same than the workplace committees the CGT-E participate in. USI can not prove that it is different.

They also say their partial participation, in them (not all of USI participate) is tactical and that they are actively seeking an alternative to them.

Comment
This is exactly the thing wich Vignoles say befor split.

They still organise workplace meetings unlike the others.

Comment
This is only 50% troofe. There is another part: RSU (not workers meetings) make negotiation with the bosses. And RSU can not be reelected in the moment by meeting. It is tipical parlamentary struture of representative democrasy (not direct democrasy). RSU (not meetings) make disigions. I bloody recomend you to reade the resalts of commition of IWA about RSU.

magidd
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Dec 18 2006 07:20

Ultra-lefts are absolutly right about burgua theory of part of modern eurapian sindicalists.
If you go to RSU and state court where is Direct Action? Why do we need this factory strugle at all? Becouse we want workers class get expirianse of assembleas disigions and get idea do not respect state and burgua loo. And this is way of preparation of libertarian-communist revolution. If you go RSU or state court what is the differense between you and Tony Blar? He wants workers do the same!

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Steven.
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Dec 18 2006 10:11
Dundee_United wrote:
Could somebody tell me why engagement in works councils is always perceived to be a bad thing.

Dundee, if you don't think representatives bargaining and negotiating on behalf of workers, over the heads of the workers with no recallability then you're not a very good anarchist. I can see why a trotskyist would have no problem with it of course...

syndicalist
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Dec 18 2006 13:51

As I understand it, the RSU is government sponsored. It came about in 1998 "labor law reform".

WeTheYouth
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Dec 18 2006 14:05

USI moved into the RSU's as a tactical step for some of their unions, i beleive only two of their unions still particpate in teh RSU's. The USI gave clear answers on how the manage delegates when they are sent into the RSU's, firstly the workers hold a meeting to determine the syndical line and mandate the RSU delegate from that meeting, after the meeting has taken place an assembly of all workers is organised for any decisions to be ratified, if the USI do not agree with the majority of workers if tehy are a minority presence then the USI will act alone and against any decisions made. I think they have enough safe guards and experience in syndicalist organising for this in anyway undermine the principles of revolutionary unionism.

And comrades should now that the congress gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to USI and its continued anarcho syndicalist practice.

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Dec 18 2006 15:25
WeTheYouth wrote:
after the meeting has taken place an assembly of all workers is organised for any decisions to be ratified, if the USI do not agree with the majority of workers if tehy are a minority presence then the USI will act alone and against any decisions made.

Now a political group can do this, but not a supposedly anarchist union, surely? (Which is of course the contradiction with political unionism)

WeTheYouth wrote:
I think they have enough safe guards and experience in syndicalist organising for this in anyway undermine the principles of revolutionary unionism.

You don't think going against the decisions of workers' assemblies is a violation of these principles? And what safeguards are there if they aren't recallable?

WeTheYouth
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Dec 18 2006 15:37
Quote:
Quote:
WeTheYouth wrote:
after the meeting has taken place an assembly of all workers is organised for any decisions to be ratified, if the USI do not agree with the majority of workers if tehy are a minority presence then the USI will act alone and against any decisions made.

Now a political group can do this, but not a supposedly anarchist union, surely? (Which is of course the contradiction with political unionism)

Its not in contradiction with the principles of revolutionary unionism, if they find that they are in a minority in a workplace, and the reformist unions make a deal which is to the detriment to the workers, then why should the USI workers have to abide by decisions which they do not agree with, do not accept. By being able to act against any decisions taken which are damaging to the workers they are safeguarding themselves as simply being dragged along by reformist unions into deals that their members dont want.

Quote:
Quote:
WeTheYouth wrote:
I think they have enough safe guards and experience in syndicalist organising for this in anyway undermine the principles of revolutionary unionism.

You don't think going against the decisions of workers' assemblies is a violation of these principles? And what safeguards are there if they aren't recallable?

Going against the decisions of reformist unions which may hold a bigger membership in a workplace is not going against any principles of revolutionary unionism. As i said above it safeguards the USI from being dragged into deals its members do not accept.

If they are not recallable? Well as far i read and understood the documents that were sent out, that in practice it would rarely happen and if a person who is elected to the RSU acts against the syndical line and against the wishes of the USI workers, then they would be expelled from the union and therefore unable to participate in the RSU's as they are no longer a union member.

syndicalist
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Dec 18 2006 15:42

BTW, it's my understanding that the largest USI union in health care participates in the RSU. So, if I'm correct, there's a significant part of the USI which will use its tactical flexibility.

I must say, I find this all very rife with contradictions.

WeTheYouth
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Dec 18 2006 15:50
syndicalist wrote:
BTW, it's my understanding that the largest USI union in health care participates in the RSU. So, if I'm correct, there's a significant part of the USI which will use its tactical flexibility.

I must say, I find this all very rife with contradictions.

I think the health care unions do participate in the RSU's but im not too sure wether it is on a solely from workplace to workplace decision in the health care unions, and as said earlier they are in discussion on the how to get out of the RSU's and still have the same presence in workplaces which now particpate in the RSU's.

Dundee_United
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Dec 18 2006 18:02
Quote:
Dundee, if you don't think representatives bargaining and negotiating on behalf of workers, over the heads of the workers with no recallability then you're not a very good anarchist. I can see why a trotskyist would have no problem with it of course...

Sometimes my views are close to those of the Trotskyists but that is a bit of a cheap shot John. The point about engagement in works councils is that is one avenue for building power, and needn'y necessarily be done on the man's terms. I also think the whole debate here is verging on a moralistic rehash of the old means and ends sacred tatty. It's a purely tactical question in my view. The point about communist agitation isn't that you always 100% behave in a democratic way - it's that you always push what is more likely to lead to more power, autonomy, class consciousness and accountability for the class. If in practice that meant packing works councils for class demands then so be it, and as one poster put it quite succintly, "If a person who is elected to the RSU acts against the syndical line and against the wishes of the USI workers, then they would be expelled from the union and therefore unable to participate in the RSU's as they are no longer a union member."

magidd
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Dec 18 2006 19:12

"If a person who is elected to the RSU acts against the syndical line and against the wishes of the USI workers, then they would be expelled from the union and therefore unable to participate in the RSU's as they are no longer a union member."

Comment
Theoreticaly yes. But even in this case not elected person come to the RSU from USI but somebody who is next in the list (this list uses at the elections of RSU). And aniway haw do simple memebers of union know what happen during negoutiations with boss or with over members of RSU? It is closed from meeting!
I can add that over members of RSU just normal leaders of different yellow trade-unionions. So activists of USI sit in the parlament wich is elected by workers collectiv on the bases of trade-union lists withaut right to chenge deligate in the moment. I mean why don't we partisipate in parlamentary elections in this case? And what is the reason to be negative to CGT-E? If RSU is o'key we have to re-unite with CGT-E and Vignoles.

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 18 2006 19:25

The reasons given to justify USI's participation in RSUs are hard to square with the IWA hostility to the CGT-E.

Consider the method used by the Spanish longshore union (FEEP). FEEP came into existence in the late '70s by making strike assemblies permanent in Barcelona and a number of other ports, and anarcho-syndicalists were the main influence for them going this way. To deal with the comites de empresa (CEs), they do several things. First, they have assemblies before the decisions by the CE and their delegates must do what they tell them. Since FEEP has 80% of the delegates on the longshore CEs in Spain, they dominate. Also, when delegates are elected they have them sign a letter of resignation. If they violate what the assembly tells them, they are "resigned." At least, this is what they were doing back in the late '80s.

When the CNT unions on the Barcelona Metro and at the SEAT auto plant (two of the largest enterprises in Barcelona), won the majority on the CEs in 1984, they used methods similar to the FEEP. They pledged that they would not make the decisions for the workers but invoke an assembly. From looking at the CGT Transport Union's website, it seems they still take this position. They say explicitly the workers must appprove any decision. In the contract struggle on the Barcelona bus system in 2003, the CGT got 1,200 of the 2,500 workers to sign a petition demanding the invoking of a mass assembly to discuss and vote on the contract. What actually happened is that the Workers Commission and some of the other unions on the CE held a small meeting of only 60 people late in the evening and because that agreed to the contract, the majority on the CE voted to approve it. CGT is a minority on that CE so they couldn't block it.

t.

WeTheYouth
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Dec 18 2006 19:37
magidd wrote:
Quote:
"If a person who is elected to the RSU acts against the syndical line and against the wishes of the USI workers, then they would be expelled from the union and therefore unable to participate in the RSU's as they are no longer a union member."

Comment
Theoreticaly yes. But even in this case not elected person come to the RSU from USI but somebody who is next in the list (this list uses at the elections of RSU). And aniway haw do simple memebers of union know what happen during negoutiations with boss or with over members of RSU? It is closed from meeting!
I can add that over members of RSU just normal leaders of different yellow trade-unionions. So activists of USI sit in the parlament wich is elected by workers collectiv on the bases of trade-union lists withaut right to chenge deligate in the moment. I mean why don't we partisipate in parlamentary elections in this case? And what is the reason to be negative to CGT-E? If RSU is o'key we have to re-unite with CGT-E and Vignoles.

The meetings are obviously minuted and as i have said earlier decisions have to be ratified so the workers would know what has been discussed.

How is it close to parliamentarianism? You need to read what the USI have said over and over again. And in workplace organising there is a terrible reality that you will encouncter reformist unions who on occassion you may have to work with for practical necessity.

USI's participation is alot different than the CGTE/CNTE split. And as congress decided it is their choice in how they appoach organising there unions. Maybe if more sections had Anarcho Syndicalist unions then maybe more comrades would have a better grasp on the practical situations which our comrades in the USI are trying to overcome.

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 18 2006 19:56

WeTheYouth writes: "And aniway haw do simple memebers of union know what happen during negoutiations with boss or with over members of RSU? It is closed from meeting!"

But this is almost always the case in negotiations even where works councils don't exist. The employers don't negotiate with a huge mass meeting of the workers. Even in the most rank-and-file controlled situation, there is a negotiating committee. The entire workforce doesn't get to sit in. This would be true even if there were a negotiation with a workers' assembly, like the strike assemblies in Spain in the late '70s.

For the workers to be properly informed, the negotiating committee needs to report back what went on in the negotiations and report any proposed agreement, so that the ranks can ratify or not. Workers need to be provided the text of any proposed agreement in writing in advance of a meeting to ratify. There have been many situations in the USA where at ratification meetings the leaders of the unions lie about what the contract contains to get approval.

And the negotiating committee should be mainly made up of people elected from among the workers for that purpose, not full-time officials who won't be working under the conditions agreed to.

So, suppose that libertarian delegates to a works council pledge they will report back what is discussed and pledge that the workers must agree to any proposed agreement. How is that a violation of principles?

It is true of course that the works councils set up by law do not have legal rules that workers control. But there are many aspects of worker organization and negotiation with employers controlled by laws, in all advanced capitalist countries, and the laws are tailored to be to the advantage of the employers. That's the way it is in the USA, where there are no works councils.

t.

WeTheYouth
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Dec 18 2006 20:06
Quote:
WeTheYouth writes: "And aniway haw do simple memebers of union know what happen during negoutiations with boss or with over members of RSU? It is closed from meeting!"

I did not write that comrade!!! It was our comrade magdid.

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 18 2006 21:32

Okay, my mistake.

t.