Wednesday, June 30, 2010


LOCAL EVENTS WINNIPEG:
SOLIDARITY DEMONSTRATION WITH G20 ARRESTEES:
As part of part of the countrywide mobilization to protest the police riot in Toronto and support those arrested there will be a support demonstration tomorrow here in Winnipeg. Here's the notice.
WWWWWWW
Demonstration in solidarity with G20 political prisoners and arrestees
Date: Thursday, July 1, 2010
Time: 11:30am - 2:00pm
Location: Meet at the park behind the River-Osborne Community Centre
Winnipeg, MB

Description.
In the face of police violence, attacks against protesters and the unprecedented arrests of the G20 resistance, we are calling out to all social movements to mobilize and act in solidarity with the victims of the repressive systems, who have fallen in the hands of militarized police.

More than 900 have been arrested over the course of the weekend in Toronto, either by kidnapping, political profiling, raids in private residences and places of accommodation, violence, brutality, intimidation, as well as other forms of police violence. To date, this is the largest number of mass arrests in the history of Canada, criminalizing protesters who have dared to express their disagreements towards the capitalist, security enforced, sexist, colonialist and anti-social politics of the G20.

We must publicly demonstrate our solidarity with all those arrested so that they are released as quickly as possible and charges are dropped against all those caught up in the net of the police state. We also demonstrate to recognize and denounce the excessive force used by police daily in many people's lives in our community and others.

WINNIPEG DEMONSTRATION THURSDAY JULY 1ST

FemRev, Copwatch, the Anarchist Black Cross, the Winnipeg New Socialist Group, Canadian Federation of Students and local community activists are calling on you to show your solidarity with those who have been imprisoned, are still imprisoned and who have endured violence and human rights violations.

Meet at the park behind the River Osborne Community Centre at 11:30 AM on Thursday July 1st.

Bring your bicycles, your experiences and your friends and comrades as we carve out space in the public sphere to share our voices and denounce police repression and brutality.

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS EUROPE:
STRIKES LEAD TO FURTHER CONFRONTATIONS IN EUROPE:



General strikes in Greece and the Basque countries in Spain were generally successful the other day, and at least in Greece led to further confrontations with the police during the strikers' demonstrations. Meanwhile in Madrid an unlimited strike on the metro has led to confrontations with the police there as well. The Madrid strike is supported by all three of the Spanish anarchosyndicalist organizations, the CGT, the CNT and Solidaridad Obrera. According to Solidaridad Obrera who are particularly strong in the Madrid Metro the strike has had practically 100% compliance, a considerable step up with the poorly attended "general strike" in the public sector called by the "official" trade unions, the UGT and the CCOO, earlier this month. The one day general strike in the Basque countries where local unions outweigh the larger national ones was also more successful.



The following is a story from The Independent in Ireland about the strike in Greece. Note that "numbers" are a continued bone of contention. the unions claim far larger numbers at their demonstrations than are reported here.
ESESESESES
Greece, Spain rocked by riots in a day of protests
By William Fernie in Athens
Wednesday June 30 2010

Dozens of masked youths clashed with police yesterday at a union protest in Athens during a general strike against the cash-strapped Greek government's planned pension and labour reforms.

Similar strikes in Spain also led to arrests and clashes with police.

Greek riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse troublemakers who threw chunks of marble smashed off a metro station entrance and set rubbish bins on fire.

The violence came as 10,000 people took part in a demonstration organised by the country's two main unions and fringe left-wing groups. A separate march by 5,000 members of the Communist Party-backed PAME union ended peacefully.

Public services shut down across Greece as workers walked off the job as the strike disrupted public transport, left hospitals operating on emergency staff and pulled all news broadcasts off the air.

They are protesting against draft legislation that would increase retirement ages and make it cheaper for companies to fire workers. The measures are aimed at fixing the country's debt crisis, which has shaken the entire eurozone. Similar protests in May also turned violent, with three workers dying in a bank torched by rioters.

Greece is caught in a major debt and deficit crisis. It avoided bankruptcy last month only after receiving the first installment of a €110bn emergency loan package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

In Spain, similar strikes against austerity measures caused transport havoc in Madrid and led to clashes between police. Subway trains stopped running because of the stoppage to protest against public sector wage cuts ordered by the government. Spain is struggling to emerge from nearly two years of recession following the collapse of its construction sector which had earlier fuelled a decade of economic boom.

Besides its swollen deficit problems, it also has an unemployment rate of 20pc, the highest in the EU.

- William Fernie in Athens

Irish Independent

ESESESESES
Predictably the most militant clashes with the police (or attacks by the police from another viewpoint) happened in Greece. Here's a report of clashes from the Occupied London Blog. Note the difference in crowd size estimates between this report and the one above. Note also that yet another general strike is planned for next week in Greece.
ESESESESES

General strike day in Athens:

Demonstrators attack police with their bare hands;

Fascists rooted off the demo;

Super-market looted;

Riot police beat demonstrators in the metro;

money transfer vans chasen out of Exarcheia
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
A brief summary of a very eventful day…

■At least 13 detentions in the Athens demonstration alone, six of which have turned into arrests (that is, these people face charges). There are already e-mails circulating, denouncing the unprovoked arrest of Dimitris Aggelis Dimakis, a student of European History at the University of Athens. Any updates on Dimitris’ case, or any other of today’s arrestees, will be published here.
■The general strike demonstration largely lacked in numbers (anything between 30,000 and 50,000 might be a good estimate, that together with the demo of the Stalinist PAME, which is always separate). The reasons could be anything from the numbness so many feel from the cataclysmic changes happening all around us, to the May 5th aftermath, or simply that we’re entering deep summer. In any case, what we lacked in numbers we had in the passion of some people who were out on the streets. When a couple of riot police units tried to cross through part of the demonstration at Syntagma (just opposite parliament) they were evidently surprised to see the amount of abuse they got from “ordinary” demonstrators who attacked them with empty water bottles and their bare hands, to send them out of the demonstration. More photos from this incident here.


■Earlier on, at exactly the same spot (Syntagma square, opposite the Grande Bretagne hotel) around 25-30 fascists had gathered with Greek flags, banners, army clothing and so on. They were attacked by a few comrades who were immediately joined in by other demonstrators. The fascists were attacked with their own flag poles. They were chased all the way to the other end of Syntagma square, where they found refuge behind a riot police unit. This is the second attempt by small fascist groups to join in a general strike demonstration (the first being May 20th) but they must be learning a lesson by now.Some more photos from today’s demonstration in Athens are here.
■Before the demonstration, about 25 comrades stormed in the supermarket Sklavenitis in the neighbourhood of Pagrati and removed essential goods which they then re-distributed at a nearby open air market, along with a text explaining their action. A similar action took place in Thessaloniki, too.
■After the demonstration, two money transfer vans driving through Exarcheia were chased and smashed up at Stournari Street (close to the Polytechnic school).
■Finally, after the demonstration in Athens, riot police units stormed the metro and chased people who were leaving the people. They were attacking, beating and pushing people at the platforms with imminent danger for the demonstrators’ lives. More photos from the Omonoia station incident here.


■Meanwhile, overground, riot police were also beating demonstrations – again at Omonoia:



■Earlier, at Syntagma square again, the thugs of the “Delta” motorcycle police force were only too eager to confirm the old Greek saying, “stupidity is unbeatable”. Two of their motorcycles collided with one another. The result?


This sums up the main incidents from Athens today. The mainstream trade union, GSEE, has already announced there will be another strike next week – the date is yet to be confirmed and will appear here as soon as it is known.
ESESESESES
Meanwhile in the Basque countries (Euskadi) of Spain another one day general strike happened on June 29. Once more estimates of the participation rate vary dramatically depending on the source, the Basque government claiming only about 10% while union sources claiming upwards of 70%. The strike was supported by the local Basque unions and the anarchosyndicalists across the province while the CCOO and the UGT only supported it in part of Euskadi. Here's a report from the CGT in Nafarroa published in Rojo Y Negro, the newspaper of the CGT. The original Spanish can be seen at the reference above.
ESESESESES
29 of June One Day Strike in Pamplona . Assessment and Chronical
From the CGT -Nafarroa: We started our activity at 5 am by car handing out leaflets in the streets and parks calling the rally and demonstration we had convened . (Full stop here...you'll know that anarchists are serious when they're willing to start at 5 am-Mollymew )

At 5:20 pm, a picket at the gates of VW, with police identification check of a companero and an inspection of the banner.

Later, at 6:20 pm, we have concentrated on the train station , distributing propaganda and information to users and workers. At 7:30 pm there was a demonstration in the Plaza de las Merindades and the beginning of a colorful bicycle picket by the different neighborhoods of the city which received police harassment was intended to stop our presence in the street... harassment by the motorcycles and vans of the various police , a fine from the municipal police , identification checks of everyone by the national police ... All this added to the previous fine in the campaign of preparation for the strike day .

At 11 am, in the Plaza del Vinculo , a large rally began with the participation of various companeros of the union , all in both Euskera and Castilian , as well as Ceacero Jacinto , Secretary General of the CGT. The various interventions revolved around:

•Stop the cuts and defend the rights achieved with struggle by the workers in past decades.
•Change the socioeconomic model : in the face of growth, competitiveness and exclusion, division: sharing limited growth and self-management .
•Maintenance of the mobilization: the strike as a starting point to recover space and autonomy, not as an end .

After the rally , which was set to music thanks to the participation of the Libertarian Fanfarra , we started to march on the Plaza del Castillo, where we joined the protest from other unions.

The assessment of the day we have is positive because of the degree of 'electricity' we perceived that we reached as an organization, in a general climate of social and labor apathy . We understand that protests like those today have a high potential of spreading to more social sectors and more territories and to expand quantitatively and qualitatively the mobilization to stop the advance of neoliberalism that we suffer.

So from today we start to think of and prepare the next step in the escalating mobilization that we want.

CGT Nafarroa

ESESESESES

Perhaps the most significant event in the European strike wave is the Metro strike in Madrid even though it is not a general strike. It is, however, a strike in an absolutely critical industrial sector and, most importantly, it is not a symbolic one day strike. It's unlimited as they like to say in Spain. It is also the strike where the anarchosyndicalists seem to have their greatest influence. Unfortunately I'm running out of time so I'll have to take this up later, hopefully tomorrow. This strike will probably still be happening then unless one side or the other backs down.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


CANADIAN POLITICS:
SOLIDARITY RALLIES WITH G20 DETAINEES:




As those arrested at the G20 protests are gradually being released or charged solidarity for their situation is growing across Canada. It may be that the federal Conservative government has made a grievous miscalculation in their plans, both in holding the summit in downtown Toronto which a majority of Canadians disapproved of, especially considering the cost, and then in authorizing the mass arrests that seemed targeted at everyone but the small group of rioters. Given the fact that the Canadian population was quite divided about the protests to begin with and the fact that few if any arrests were made of actual rioters while numerous ordinary citizens unconnected with the protests were scooped up and held in cages it is likely that the consequences for the show of force may rebound on the heads of the Harperites. Questions about police tactics during the initial riots are revolving around whether it was deliberate or not that police cars and a section of downtown Toronto were left for the rioters to play with.



Meanwhile solidarity rallies for those arrested are being held in many cities across eastern Canada. Here's a rundown from the Ontario platformist group Common Cause.
PPPPPPPPPP
The fight back is on!
Solidarity with the Toronto 900 rallies organized across the country

All out against police brutality and in solidarity with the Toronto 900!

A protest outside police headquarters in every city!

June 30, 2010 in Hamilton
5:00pm at Hamilton Police Headquarters
155 King William Street

June 30, 2010 in London
6:00 pm at London Police Headquarters
601 Dundas St (Dundas and Adelaide)

June 30, 2010 in Windsor
6:00pm at Windsor Police Headquarters
150 Goyeau Street

June 30, 2010 in Ottawa
7pm at 474 Elgin Street (Ottawa Police Station)

July 1, 2010 in Montreal
1pm carré Phillips,
St. Catherine

The events of the past week in Toronto have been unprecedented in Canadian history. Over 900 people were arrested, the biggest mass arrests ever in Canada, for daring to protest against the destructive policies of the G20.

Protesters and local residents were subjected to violent baton attacks, snatch squads, tear gas and rubber bullets. Sleeping people have been pulled from their homes at gunpoint in the middle of the night. Many have been beaten. People who have been arrested have been strip-searched and held in cages, facing long delays in obtaining legal support. We have heard numerous accounts of sexual abuse by police from women who were arrested. Journalists have been punched, arrested and had their equipment broken.

On the streets of Toronto, the mask of “liberal democracy” has slipped off and the police reminded us of the State's willingness to use blatant violence against its own population in the face of popular dissent. And thanks to citizen journalists, the alternative media and even some in the corporate media, the truth of what happened in Toronto is slowly emerging.

In order to make sure that the actions of the police state are fully exposed, we must keep up the pressure on the police and the government.

We must also publicly demonstrate our solidarity with all those arrested so that they are released as quickly as possible and charges are dropped against all those caught up in the net of the police state.

In Toronto, solidarity rallies outside detention centres and police stations are already taking place. But just as police forces from across the province converged on Toronto for the G20, so our resistance must spread out from the epicentre of oppression to every corner of the province.

Common Cause thus calls on all those concerned to take the fight back across the province and across the country.

Starting this Wednesday, June 30, we are calling for solidarity rallies outside police headquarters in as many cities as possible.

Our message will be clear:

Free the Toronto 900!

Fight back against the police state! We are putting you under surveillance!

Build the resistance against the G20! Build the resistance against austerity!

Build the general strike!

Common Cause
http://www.linchpin.ca/
To add your rally to the list or to send pictures from rallies, please email us at commoncauseontario@gmail.com Media may also use the same email address to contact us. Check our website for regular updates on rallies in your city.

HUMOUR:
THE PASSING OF BLAME:

Monday, June 28, 2010


CANADIAN POLITICS TORONTO:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO POLICE:




The incredibly ill conceived meeting of the G20 in downtown Toronto is over, but the aftermath remains. The final number of arrests totalled over 900. This puts this event in a category of its own. During the implementation of the War Measures Act in October 1970 only 497 people were detained. It seems that Steven Harper has got just what he wanted, political cover to justify his blowing a billion dollars on his come-as-you-aren't party. The final total may reach well beyond 900 if the police follow the same path that they have done to now.



The same path...note a couple of salient facts. One is that few (perhaps none) of the rioters were arrested during the actual riots. In actual fact many have accused the police of inactivity during the actual episodes of vandalism. The second is that almost all of those arrested were picked up while either peacefully protesting or when not protesting at all ie at residences. Many ordinary citizens, including several journalists and lawyers, were scooped up for the "crime" of just being in the proximity of police officers pumped up on adrenalin. The police also made what is probably a grievous error of not just arresting but also beating a reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian. No doubt there'll be a lot to be said about this "little" mistake in days to come. In one of the more ironic moments during the events the police arrested and imprisoned two photographers from the right wing National Post newspaper. The NP story on them confirmed everything that political arrestees had claimed about conditions in the holding facility.


In the end it may be possible that there will not be a single conviction for any act of violence given that the police were quite reluctant to make arrests when the events were happening. many commentators have found the whole way in which the police responded to be suspicious ,especially given the way that police cars were seemingly abandoned to provide photo-op targets for the Black Bloc. As can be seen below this suspicion is hardly confined to conspiracy theorists as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association mentions this disparity in their press release. (see below).


Whatever the minutiae of whether violence was indeed deliberately allowed to occur unchecked there can be little doubt that the general tone of the police tactics was set by their political masters. By this I don't mean micromanaging each raid or whether violence was to be allowed (or even encouraged) and for how long. It was that the decision to make a massive show of force and concentrate the majority of force on the general protest movement was very much a political decision. Depending upon the ever dependable Black Bloc to give the properly photogenic incidents the government can come out claiming that, "see, this is why we needed a billion dollars worth of security".



Will it work, or will the overkill of force blow up in the government's face ? It's hard to say. The summit began with over two thirds of Canadians of the opinion that holding the summit was not worth the cost. As the focus of news gradually shifts from images of perhaps 100 clowns at most breaking windows and spray painting walls things may fall into a bit better perspective with story after story about ordinary people caught up in what is the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Also, in the end any damage caused by the Black Bloc's little spree pales into insignificance compared to the damage that the government's decision has done to Toronto and to the general Canadian taxpayer.



Let's begin with the response of Amnesty International who while deploring the actions of the Black Bloc look at the larger picture of the overwhelming police presence. My greatest quibble with what follows is that any such inquiry should extend far beyond the police and into the way that the decisions about the general methods of security were made politically.
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Toronto and the G8/G20:
Peaceful protest suffers amidst heavy security measures and acts of vandalism

As the Annual General Meeting of Amnesty International Canada (English branch) concluded today in Toronto, Amnesty International members from across the country expressed their very deep concern that important rights associated with peaceful protest have suffered considerably in the city over the weekend.


In connection with the G20 leaders summit, the heavy police and security presence that has permeated the city for several days, as well as acts of vandalism and other violence by numbers of individuals, have contributed to an atmosphere of apprehension and fearfulness that has led many individuals to refrain from or limit their involvement in peaceful demonstrations and other activities.

At a time when the public should be encouraged to actively engage in debate and discussion about pressing global issues, the security measures that were put in place in Toronto in the lead up to the G20 Summit held in the city instead narrowed the space for civic expression and cast a chill over citizen participation in public discourse. Many thousands of individuals did take part in public events such as the “People First” demonstration during the afternoon of June 26, but felt apprehensive while doing so. Many others did not take part out of a sense of unease and fearfulness.

In meeting in Toronto at the same time as G8 and G20 leaders have held their summits in Canada, Amnesty International members have sought to draw attention to important human rights issues that should be priority concerns for both bodies. We have highlighted that it is a particularly key juncture in the development of the G20 as an emerging body that will exert growing influence on world economic, political and social affairs. We have emphasized, therefore, that we look to them to take action to ensure that human rights are brought to the heart of the global effort to fight poverty, particularly through the millennium development goals. We look to them to ensure that respect for universal human rights will become the hallmark of their deliberations and decision making.

Yet at a time when human rights need so very much to come to the fore, we have instead witnessed and experienced a curtailment of civil liberties. On the streets, protesters were faced with high fences, new weaponry, massive surveillance, and the intimidating impact of the overwhelming police presence. Combined with uncertainty and worry about unclear powers of arrest, this created an atmosphere in which countless individuals felt unable or too fearful to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly and participate in rallies and other events which would have offered them an opportunity to express their views on a range of important national and international issues.

We unequivocally condemn the acts of vandalism and violence that have been carried out by numbers of individuals, particularly during the evening of June 26. Such acts are criminal and undermine the safety of the many thousands of individuals involved in peaceful protest. We recognize that police have a responsibility to respond to such actions, to protect public safety, prevent damage to property, and ensure the safety of leaders and other officials attending the G20 Summit.

There are concerns, however, about possible police excesses, including reports of journalists being arrested or constrained in the course of covering confrontations between police and demonstrators. In one reported case, the journalist was apparently beaten in the course of being arrested. Nearly 500 people are reported to have been arrested, as of the morning of June 27th. Witnesses have reported that some of those arrested appear to have been engaging in peaceful protest. It has not been possible to get clear information about which tactics and weapons police have deployed in the course of securing specific areas and responding to incidents of both violence and legitimate protest. This lack of clear information has further fueled misunderstanding and fears about police actions as protests are expected to continue.

The amount of money, reported to be in excess of $1 billion, that has been spent on security measures in Toronto over the past several days has been unprecedented. Yet on one hand extensive acts of vandalism and other violence were carried out and on the other hand thousands of individuals felt nervous and uneasy about exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest.

This cannot become the hallmark of how the G20 conducts its business. Instead, we call on G20 leaders to ensure that future Summits are carried out in ways that maximize rather than restrict rights associated with peaceful protest, particularly freedom of expression and assembly.

Lessons must be learned from these events. We call on the Canadian government and the government of the province of Ontario to cooperate in launching an independent review of the security measures that were put in place for the G8 and G20 Summits. The review should include opportunities for public input and the results should be released to the public. Among other issues, the review should consider:

•The impact of security measures, including decisions about the location and venues for the two summits, on the protection of human rights, including the freedoms of expression and assembly.

• The ways in which police operations and the use of legal provisions such as the Public Works Protection Act have impacted the rights of the many thousands of people living, working and operating businesses within and near the G20 security zone.

For further information contact:
Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations
berton-hunter@amnesty.ca
Cell phone: 416 904 7158
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The statement from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that follows below is a little more biting than Amnesty's and raises important points neglected by the Amnesty statement such as the minuscule size of the Black Bloc compared to the rest of the protests, the concentration of the police on peaceful protesters and their seeming neglect of the actual 'mini-riot', and also the somewhat "convenient" location (and possible abandonment) of the police cruisers that were burnt.
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CCLA denounces the sweeping arrests at G20
June 27th, 2010
Reporters arrested, CCLA civil rights monitors arrested, over 500 people in detention, police unwilling to provide access to lawyers, cellphones seized, what is going on? Police will say that 4 to 7 police cars were set on fire and that there was much looting and spray painting, pop cans and rocks were thrown and more vandalism was planned at the fence or elsewhere. Is the policing proportionate to the threat?

Up until late Saturday afternoon, police actions had been restrained. Certainly, it had been disproportionate at times with hundreds of police officers surrounding 75 peaceful marchers, large groups of police officers circling one lone protester to search a back pack and umbrellas and water bottles being seized . We also witnessed people intercepted and detained, even charged for not identifying themselves. Friday’s marches were tense in a couple of places : police officers rammed their bicycles in protesters, verbal confrontations occurred but it ended peacefully. Saturday started out with the large People First march with a trajectory negotiated and approved by the police: down University, west on Queens, north on Spadina and back to Queen’s Park. The protest marshalls knew that there would be splinter groups wanting to reach the fence to spray it or put their banner up. Looters were also expected to take advantage of the situation.

And it happened: it is unclear why police cruisers would be in the vicinity of the protest. Throughout the week, police officers circulated in unmarked vans. While hundreds of riot police officers were blockading streets south of Queen, vandals got out and threw rocks along Queen and up Yonge (reports vary on the numbers, from 50 to 100). Confrontations occurred as well on King.

It is still unclear why the people gathered at Queen’s Park at 5 pm were suddenly charged by riot police. It appears that the small group of black clad vandals was still out to spray paint and throw rocks in windows. Certainly, however, not all those at Queen’s Park fell into this category. Since then, over 500 people have been arrested and none are being released. It would appear that the presumption of innocence and the protection against arbitrary arrest had been suspended during the G20.

CCLA is concerned about the conditions of detention: people were being denied access to lawyers, they were unable to contact their families and were not promptly released.

This post is also available in: French

Sunday, June 27, 2010


HUMOUR:
THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH OIL:

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR:
GENERAL STRIKES ROLL ACROSS EUROPE:




Following previous general strikes in Greece and Spain unions in Europe are increasingly reaching for the weapon of the general strike to protest government austerity measures across the continent. Recently workers in France and Italy held one day general strikes, and Greek unions have set a date for yet another such strike as well. Here's news from the Epoch Times of the strike in France last Thursday June 24.

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Millions in France Protest Raising Retirement Age to 62
Workers from both the public and private sectors joined hundreds of organized protest activities, reported AFP.

Bernard Thibault, head of France’s biggest union CGT estimated “about 2 million” protesters turned out. About 1-in-5 civil servants did not go to work, shutting the doors to some schools.

Authorities said 50 percent of train service was interrupted coming in and out of Paris and 15 percent of flights to city airports had to be canceled Thursday morning.

Striking print workers asked national daily newspapers to scrap their Friday editions.

On June 16, Labor Minister Eric Woerth announced plans to raise the retirement age to 62 by 2018 as part of a program to save the country US$55 billion.

Unions say the proposal puts an unfair burden on workers. Woerth said Wednesday the reform was “necessary and fair” and the government would stick to its plan. The bill will go before cabinet next month and Parliament is scheduled to vote on it in September.

In 1995, Paris had to drop a savings program after weeks of strikes.

France currently has one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe.

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On Friday June 25 it was Italy's turn. Here's a report from Deutsche Welle.
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Italians protest Berlusconi's austerity plans

Italian workers walked out in a protest against austerity cuts, disrupting transport services across the country. Italy's largest union organised the day of strike action, with marches in nearly every major city.

Italy's largest union staged a national general strike on Friday in a protest against austerity measures by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government. Transport services across the country were disrupted, though support for the strike was not universal.

The left-leaning CGIL union, which has six million members, staged rallies in nearly every major Italian city in a bid to force the government to rethink a 25-billion-euro package of cuts. Berlusconi has defended the package as “absolutely necessary” and hopes it will help save the euro currency.

The austerity measures include a 10 percent budget reduction for ministries, 4.5 billion euros in reduced transfers to regional governments, a partial amnesty on illegal building and a 3-year wage freeze for civil servants.

"No one denies that we need to make cuts, but they must be cuts which are fair and look to the future, rather than just slashing spending," said Susanna Camusso, deputy leader of the CGIL, at a rally in Bologna.

The strike was a key test of strength for Berlusconi, whose poll ratings have reached new lows as unemployment has risen and the euro zone's third largest economy has struggled to emerge from recession.

Loyalties divided

The strike split Italy's trade union movement, which is roughly divided along political lines. The other two main unions asked their members to stay on the job.

While most private sector CGIL workers went on strike for four hours, public sector members demonstrated their anger by staying off work all day. Bus, subway and rail services were disrupted throughout the country, although support for the strike was patchy and some services continued to run. Airport staff also planned to strike, but flights at Rome's Fiumicino airport appeared to suffer little disruption.

The strikes followed union protests in France and Greece this week against plans for pension reform and budget cuts. Members of the 16-nation euro zone have rushed to approve austerity measures in a bid to restore confidence in the single currency and stop Greece's debt crisis spilling over into other countries.

Thousands marched in Rome on June 12 to protest against the government's austerity measures. Polls say a majority of Italians believe the cuts are unfairly distributed, even though part of the package includes pay cuts for parliamentarians.

Author: Joanna Impey (AP/Reuters)
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Meanwhile Greece which has seen four general strikes this year is set to repeat its protests on June 29. Here's the story from the Wall Street Journal. This strike is likely to be the most widely observed one of the current batch.
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Greece's Largest Unions Plan Paralyzing Strike For June 29
ATHENS (Dow Jones)--Greece's two largest unions, which have about 1.2 million members, have agreed to hold a 24-hour, combined paralyzing strike on June 29 to protest prospective labor and pension reforms.

This confirms what the unions had said to Dow Jones on Wednesday.

The Greek ruling socialist government has said that it has no choice but to impose tough measures that it has agreed to in exchange for the EUR110 billion bailout package provided by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Some of the proposed reforms that unions fear will lead to easier layoffs at a time of high unemployment, rising retirement ages and lower pensions.

Unions see the reforms as a denigration of workers' hard-earned rights and the dismantling of the welfare state, while the socialist government argues it has no other options.

This will be the fifth general strike this year and is likely to again bring the country to its knees as businesses, public services and transportation, among several other sectors, will grind to a halt.

The private sector umbrella union Greek General Confederation of Labor, or GSEE, which has 800,000 members, said in a statement that it's taking this action to oppose the prospective bills to liberalize the labor market and to protect pension entitlements that they see as being undermined.

"We need to reject these anti-worker and anti-pension legal initiatives, as well as the government's inflexible and negative stance," the GSEE said in a statement.

The GSEE added that the strike was also being organized to express workers' dissatisfaction that a national collective-bargain wage agreement looks unlikely to be achieved soon due to the intransigence of employer groups.

The second largest union, ADEDY, which has 400,000 members and represents public sector employees, confirmed to Dow Jones that it will also participate in the strike even though a formal decision has not been made yet.

"We have to take to the streets to protect our members from these harsh and unfair changes that are looming," Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary general of the public sector umbrella union, told Dow Jones.

"Greece is a test case for these neo-liberal ultra-conservative policies, and if they succeed here, they will be imposed across all of Europe--to even the wealthier Northern European countries--at the expense of workers and for the benefit of big business," Iliopoulos added.

-By Nick Skrekas of Dow Jones

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There is also a planned general strike on June 29 in the Basque countries in Spain. This one will likely also be well observed as a previous one on May 21 was a success despite the opposition of Spain's two largest union federations the UGT and the CCOO. In the Basque countries independent local unions outweigh the larger national federations. The anarchosyndicalist CGT has come out in support of this strike, and they have been pressuring the larger unions for some time to not wait until the end of September but to come out with the Basque unions at the end of the month. The CGT has also been calling for some time for a general strike of unlimited duration.


When all is said and done, after all, a one day general strike is of only symbolic value. Sometimes the duration of the supposed general strike is even less than a day (see the article on Italy above). The following article originally published in the English anarchist paper Freedom and reproduced at the Libcom website gives the cautionary warning from the Spanish anarchosyndicalist CNT that only a real general strike with no time limit is an actual way to make governments back down from their austerity "reforms".

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CNT: Make Spain’s general strike indefinite
Submitted by Rob Ray on Jun 23 2010 20:43
As a general strike is mooted to coincide with Europe-wide action, the anarcho-syndicalist CNT union is warning that one day outings will not be enough to deter deep public sector cuts

Spain's fifth general strike has been set for September 29th amidst massive public sector cuts and attacks on job security passed by the ruling Socialist Party - and the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is calling for it to be made indefinite.

Following a one day public-sector strike earlier this month the union is warning that “gesture strikes” will not be enough to force the government to change course.

In a statement after the June 8th event they said: “The government’s plans to stabilise the economy through reducing the public deficit by 11% have placed the cost of the economic crisis on the shoulders of the disadvantaged.

“It is evident that the proposals are designed to satisfy banks and employers by compromising with the neoliberal designs that prevail in the EU.”

“If there had been earlier mobilisations the government would not have dared to present the measures announced and would have had to cut elsewhere. It would have had to seek income where the money really is – on the bench, through corporate taxes, inheritance, hedge funds etc.

“We believe it is a mistake to continue ‘negotiating’ labour reform, which is simply a concession to employers. The only possiblility for correcting this situation is to fight this economic aggression through social confrontation, to continue and expand protests to all sectors.”

“These great evils can only be treated with great remedies, and such remedies do not include, of course, a 24-hour general strike which, assuming that UGT and CCOO (the two major reformist unions in Spain) dared to actually convene one, would act only as a giant safety valve for employee discontent.

“An indefinite general strike paralysing the country until the government withdraws anti-worker and anti-social actions would by contrast act as a binder for workers to recover their class consciousness and act together, with an eye to the destruction of the capitalist system through social revolution which is the only truly effective medicine against congenital diseases of the system.

Larger TUC-style unions called the public-sector strike on June 8th, which the left claimed got 75% of public sector workers out (state sources put it 16%) and saw tens of thousands of people on the streets in protest. The public sector accounts for around 2.5 million jobs in Spain. However the measure has made little impact on narrowly-passed plans to slash 5% from public sector pay, part of a 15 billion euro package of austerity measures being implemented in the next few years.

Other measures include the uncoupling of pension payments from inflation, an end to tax breaks for new parents and cuts in public investment and development aid of up to 6 billion euros. The Party is also taking the opportunity to “free up the labour market” by making it easier to hire and fire workers, a measure which would be likely to help drive a general strike outside the public sector.

Its actions, taken as Spain is threatened by international markets over its debt ratio, are widely seen as a betrayal of the electoral promises which put the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Jose Zapatero into power in 2004 on the back of widespread discontent with the right, though anarchist groups in the country have pointed to the situation as emblematic of party politicians’ inability to represent working people.

In an editorial for the periodical CNT, the union noted: “Economic crises are inherent in the capitalist system and will, unfortunately for humanity, regularly occur as long as the system exists.

“At the end of the day, the problem lies in the balance of power between two social classes with conflicting interests - the bourgeois class, which holds exclusive ownership of the means of production and distribution, and the proletarian class, which has no more than their manual and intellectual labour to sell as dearly as possible. The salary of the employee, and therefore the worker himself, is just another cost of production like machinery, electrical power or fuel.

“And when the worker is considered this way, not as a human being but as a cost to be cut without a second thought, you can do with them what you will, without remorse. That is neither more nor less than what capitalists do with us now.

“We can not remain silent before these measures announced by the government, which will result in yet more desecration of labour right to add to a long list of infamies imposed since this pompously-named “democracy” came into existence. Lowering the salaries of officials and freezing or eliminating pensions, among other measures, are not appropriate ways to solve the so-called crisis, and will have the determined opposition of the CNT.”

- Discussion thread on libcom.org

- An edited version of this article first appeared in Freedom anarchist newspaper

Saturday, June 26, 2010


PERSONAL:
HERE AT MOLLY'S BLOG:


The time of greatest activity is often the best time to stop and take stock. In terms of anarchism the term is getting more press in the last few days than it has had in perhaps the last ten years. Yes, even including the coverage of the Vancouver Olympics. Whether this publicity is positive or not I will leave to my readers' opinions. This blog has always attempted to be one that presents anarchism to 'non-anarchists'. An ordinary person does not just not "speak" like the average anarchist, educated in social science faculties as the anarchists are, but they don't share the shibboleths that define much of North American anarchism today. The author of this blog has, mercifully, escaped such "education", and has always tried to present the essential ideas of anarchism that lay behind "fashion" academic or otherwise.


My present coverage of the events around the G20 Summit in Toronto should be seen in this context. Yes, it is an important news story, but what does it have to do with the everyday life of the ordinary person ? The answer is pretty obvious. Very little at best. At best there is the fact that international agreements will affect the life of the average person. On the other hand protests against them will not.

I have blogged recently about the Casino Regina strike in Saskatchewan. When you include the dependents of the striking employees there you have about the same number of people who a1re pretending to fight the cops in downtown Toronto.


Yes, militant demonstrations, however ill advised their tactics may be, are important. What is more important, however, are the actions of ordinary people who don't subscribe to an ideological position. As somebody who has been an anarchist for almost 40 years I can attest that the anarchist movement in North America at least is often prey to foolish fashion, and that the ordinary person should not take one incident and the rhetoric that accompanies it as representative of what "anarchism means"


Personally I have no truck with any of the petty vandalism that has occurred in Toronto, and I emphasize that it is just that....petty vandalism. It is not the great terrorism that both the police and the supporters of these actions make it out to be. In the end it is absurd and hardly justifies the 900 million spent on security for the meeting of the G20.


I repeat my question to the average Canadian. Do you think that your work and the taxes that you have paid for this work has got "good value" for the street fight in Toronto ie 1 billion dollars worth ? Could the "anarchists" be at least a little bit right ?
But obviously I have strayed from "Molly's Blog', So I'll have to bore you with those details later.

HUMOUR:
WHAT REALLY GOES ON AT SUMMITS:

CANADIAN POLITICS TORONTO:
SOLIDARITY WITH G20 ARRESTEES.


The film studio prison camp that was taken over as a detention centre for those arrested at the G20 protests is getting at least some use. It seems, however, that it has become more of a 'preventative detention' centre as it is now housing inmates scooped up in household raids removed from the actual protests themselves, with no evidence that those arrested actually committed any crimes. Here, from the Facebook page of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network is a call for a solidarity demonstration tomorrow, June 27.
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JUNE 27: JAIL SOLIDARITY RALLY!

Friends, comrades, and allies’ are being detained. Homes have been raided, people have been snatched, and arrested in the streets. At least [#] of our allies are being held at 629 Eastern Ave, at a film studio that has bee converted into a temporary prison for G8/G20 those resisting the G8/G20.

We need to show our comrades and friends that we support each other, and show that we can’t be divided by fear.

We are intending this to be a low-risk solidarity rally to demonstrate our support:

10:00AM - SUNDAY, JUNE 27

Jimmie Simpson Park (870 Queen St East)

Then proceeding to rally outside the detention facility at 629 Eastern Ave
Snacks provided.
Accessibility van: 9:30am, St George station’s East (Bedford) entrance

Organized by the Jail Solidarity Working Group

HUMOUR:
THE G20- THE NAKED TRUTH:

CANADIAN POLITICS TORONTO:
G20 PROTESTS BEGIN:



After the conclusion of the G8 summit in Ontario cottage country the G20 summit in downtown Toronto has begun. From what I can glean from the media the G8 summit was a non-event. The media seems much more interested in covering protests than they do the photo-ops and weaselly statements of the assembled leaders of the G8. In any case there has long been speculation that the G8 is outmoded. What this means is pretty plain in that the host country Canada is far less of a major players in the world economy than many non-members who will be at the G20. An era has passed. Anything concrete would have to come out of something like the G20.


The assembled G8 missed the Québec/Ontario earthquake to my great chagrin. I would have loved to see coverage of the spooks (security) running around in a panic shooting each other in the ass thinking it was some sort of mega bomb. Ah well we can hope for aftershocks.


Meanwhile demonstrations that have been ongoing in Toronto were ratcheted up a notch yesterday as the Toronto Community Mobilzation Network held their preliminary demonstration. The Mobilization Network also has a facebook page where you can get a lot of the news that won't be in the mass media. The Toronto Media Co-op also has a specific subpage, the G20 Alt Media Centre, where news of the protests is updated practically to the minute. Please check out these resources if you want the latest coverage on what is happening...from the protesters' point of view.



In any case a 'large crowd' marched in downtown Toronto yesterday. If you want the definition of 'large' I cannot provide it. Generally the best way to come close to the truth of these things is to take the largest estimate and divide it by two. Then take the low estimate and double it. Average the two and you get close to reality. Yes, the sides that I might personally be in favour of are just as prone to manipulating numbers as the "opponents". That's life. Whatever the numbers may have been it was enough for the bosses in charge of security at the meeting to jump the gun and impose the security zone lockdown of the summit area a day earlier than planned.



It was also large enough that it convinced the bosses to push the "go button" and begin targeted arrests of the leadership cadre of the various groups protesting (see later). The scoops showed that the police/csis actually have very good intelligence. It's one thing to be able to identify "individuals of concern" in open-to-the-public groups where identity has never been concealed. That is almost as easy as identifying clandestine groups who think they are incredibly sneaky even when they have multiple informers implanted in them. In those cases the spooks keep much better paperwork. What impresses me is not the who who were arrested but the where as it seems that the police keep pretty good tabs on the movements of the individuals they have targeted. It's something to be considered, though I know that there is ideological opposition to considering such things.


In any case here's a report from the mass media (CTV) about what occurred yesterday.
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Police get special arrest powers for duration of G20
Date: Fri. Jun. 25 2010 8:31 PM ET

Police temporarily shut the gates to the G20 security perimeter early Friday evening, as they attempted to head off the largest in a string of demonstrations to protest the international meeting.

Anti-poverty demonstrators had attempted to march south towards the security zone where the G20 summit will take place. But they were turned back when police with shields blockaded University Avenue.

Instead the protesters backtracked, marching east towards the park where the demonstration originated, trailed by police in full riot gear.

"I'm not a hell-raiser but I want my voice to be heard," one woman told CP24, adding that she decided to join the demonstration in response to the large number of police on the city's streets. "I thought I lived in a democracy and I don't think I do any more."

The protests led the Integrated Security Unit to close the security fence around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the G20 summit will be held. A gate was later reopened at Yonge Street and Wellington Street, apparently to allow residents and business-owners inside the security zone to pass through.

As the march wound down, organizers said they would set up a collection of tents in Allan Gardens, camp there overnight, and join another large G20 protest to be held at Queen's Park on Saturday afternoon.

The demonstration attracted some 2,000 people at its peak, in spite of a heavy police presence and news that Ontario had quietly passed legislation that allows police to question and arrest anyone walking within five metres of the security fence in the city's financial district.

The crowd was the largest in a string of demonstrations in the lead-up to the G8 summit, which began Friday in Huntsville, Ont., and the G20 summit that starts Saturday in Toronto. But by 7 p.m., the number of protesters in the march has since dwindled to a few hundred people, CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness reported.

One image showed a group of people clad in black masks among the demonstrators. Reports had suggested that a radical group may split off from the main demonstration and move towards the security fence around the Convention Centre, but that never occurred.

Another image showed a sizable group of helmeted police, standing six officers across, and stretching back down a shaded alley.

The demonstration was for the most part peaceful, aside from one incident in which a protester was reportedly arrested by police.

An immigrants' rights group called No One is Illegal also reportedly released red and black balloons into the air, in an apparent attempt to challenge restrictions on the city's airspace during the summits. (Authorities have banned kites and hot air balloons in the vicinity of the Convention Centre.)

Organizers used social media sites such as Twitter to post updates as the demonstration unfolded.

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network, a collection of protesters from different groups, said that police were searching people as they entered Allan Gardens park where the demonstration originated.

John Clarke, with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, called the large police presence "offensive."


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Here's a report from G20 Alt Media Centre about the arrests that followed the demonstrations yesterday.
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House raids, warrants and arrests
by Tim Groves

Three house where G20 protesters have been staying were raided last night; activists staying at the houses were arrested. Six or more arrest warrants were issued and at least four of the people named in the warrants have been arrested and charged with conspiracy.

"The people arrested were involved in Indigenous sovereignty organizing, environmental organizing, and anti poverty organizing," said Mac Scott, a member of the Movement Defence Committee, which provides legal support for activists. They "believe this is an abrogation of Section 2 of the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom]," which guarantees Canadians' fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of thought.

Police arrived at a house where 15 activists were staying at approximately 4:45am.

"They did not have a warrant, we asked for a warrant. They asked for identification, they asked us questions, we refused. People were detained, people asked to call legal council. We were refused to be allowed to call legal council," said Niki Thorne, a resident of the house. Even when a warrant was later provided, those being arrested were not allowed to fully read the warrant before it was taken away from them. "They were kicking people out of bed, kicking people awake," she added.

"I was in a tent in the backyard. We got woken up by two cops and put in cuffs, and there were probably at least six or eight police in the house," said Marya Folinsbee, who was staying at the house and is a friend of the man who was arrested. "They were trying to identify people. They had a big stack of papers with names and face of activists, some were organizers and some were people just doing child care for the protests."

The upstairs neighbours, a family with a young baby, were also visited by police.

"The neighbours who were not connected to the protest had a gun held to his head when he woke up. It's so fucked it's so fucked," said an shaken Folinsbee. "They put neighbours who lived in the building in cuffs."

One of the activists staying in the house was taken in his underwear into a paddy wagon waiting outside. The others in the house gathered on the front porch and sang loudly so that he could hear.

Another house had its door kicked in and a warrant left on the table. Two activists who live in the house have been arrested and a third person staying at the house was also been arrested, according to sources at the Toronto Community Mobilization Network.

Another unit in the same building also had it door kicked in.

Two other activists have been informed that there are warrants out for their arrest, and it is believed that they will be turning themselves in to police.

According to a tweet from the Movement Defence Committee the arrests were of "key organizers."

"We have a message to all those today: rights have never been granted or given, they have won," said Scott on behalf of the Movement Defence Committee.

Supporters of those arrested will gather outside the Toronto Film Studios starting at noon to provide solidarity. The film studios have been converted into a temporary jail. They are located at 629 Eastern Ave.
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Finally here's an item from the Ontario platformist site Linchpin about the aftermath of the massive security overkill at the G20 and what it means for civil liberties in Canada in the future.
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G20 prompts expanded police power... permanently

By Paul M.

The global protectors of capitalism will descend on Toronto this June to discuss how to best increase corporate profit rates while simultaneously selling belt tightening measures to societies already ravaged by a global recession. Imperialist wars, global poverty, and environmental destruction are massive problems that affect billions of people across the globe. How can we be sure that such important people as the leaders of the G20 will be protected from the vindictive mob of labor activists, environmentalists, immigration rights and anti-poverty organizations who will seek to hold them accountable?

Well, apparently the recession hasn’t put a dent in the security budget - now pushing $1 billion - needed to protect our vaunted leadership from the baser instincts of the public at large. Security fences, á la Quebec circa 2001, have been erected. RCMP, OPP, and Toronto Police, have been supplemented by thousands of officers from forces across Canada as well as the military. Together they form the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) in a spectacle of state power meant to effectively manage and/or crush all dissenting voices. A fenced-off film studio ostensibly geared towards mass detentions lends credence to a police strategy bent on enforcing a ludicrous free speech zone few will likely obey.

What seems to be clear is that this massive show of force will leave lingering marks on our civil liberties and a stronger police state in its wake. One obvious intrusion is the much talked-about 77 new CCTV police cameras installed in downtown Toronto, which city and police officials assure will be “mostly” taken down after the summit leaves town. Toronto Public Space Committee spokesperson Jonathan Goldsbie put it well when he rhetorically asked the Globe and Mail why anyone would spend countless thousands for high-tech cameras only to let them “languish in a storage area.” The Toronto Police Service’s claim to the CCTV cameras’ temporary nature sounds oddly similar to statements made by the Vancouver authorities in the run up to the Olympics, in which they announced that they would sell off CCTV cameras after the Games. The cameras used in Vancouver are now part of the city’s permanent “redeployable” arsenal - available at police discretion.

Certainly public scrutiny of police funding is a clear casualty of the summit, with the Toronto police taking the opportunity to update to encrypted radios at enormous taxpayer expense. In addition to their $35 million price tag, the radios mean journalists and concerned citizens will lose the capacity to monitor police activity. At the very least, some level of public oversight made cops more honest in the application of unjust laws - but now racial profiling, the surveillance of social justice groups, and continued harassment of the poor will fly under the radar of concerned citizens.

New abuses are also in store for summit protesters, who are now slated to become guinea pigs for the latest in police technology. Toronto Police have acquired four Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) - more appropriately dubbed sound cannons – for the summit, which are known to cause moderate to serious hearing damage, including permanent loss of hearing. These weapons are being categorized as “communication devices”, but the unwillingness of police to disable their dangerous “alert” function at the request of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) demonstrates their real intention come summit day, and beyond. The willingness of the cops to use this dangerous weapon can perhaps be gauged by LRAD use during the last G20 summit in Pittsburgh, or, for that matter, by the general level of concern that cops always show to social activists. Ear plugs don’t cut down the decibel level enough to protect you from prolonged exposure to the cannon, but might buy you time to get out of range - and you can call me paranoid if you want, but I’m buying some.

While the rest of the public sector is being asked to brace themselves for wage freezes and service cuts, the Toronto Police have managed to turn the 5% reduction in operating costs requested by the city budget officer into a 5% increase. Doubtless the grand excuse of G20 security will be leveraged to secure special treatment for police state infrastructure, which remains the thin blue line separating the public from the wealthy minority determining their lives. The $45 million addition to the police budget is a pittance for the long term social control it affords, as poverty rises in a global recession and the propertied classes need bigger and more well-equipped guard dogs.

As the G20 begins, and activists gear up for yet another protestival, it is worth noting that the accompanying police state infrastructure is here to stay, and will certainly affect the ongoing work of day-to-day organizing so crucial for building a mass movement. The fight for a truly just and sustainable world must be fought everyday, in our workplaces and communities – lest we concede defeat to the global leadership we so rightly seek to protest.
TPTPTPTPTPTPTP
Molly has to say that the results of these protests will be interesting. The security measures that have been taken place this event in an entirely different ballpark than anything that has happened before in Canada including the Olympic Games security. The bill, however, for a mere three days is so fantastic that it is a rock solid guarantee that such things could not be repeated across the country. But, as the last item above mentions there will be a residual effect of increased police powers. This bears scrutiny.

Friday, June 25, 2010


HUMOUR:
CAN "WHAT" ?:


CANADIAN LABOUR - SASKATCHEWAN:
BETTING ON THE UNION:




Employees at Casino Regina in Regina Saskatchewan have been without a contract since May 2009, and early this month they decided that enough was enough. The first to walk out were members of the PSAC on June 3, and they were followed by others from the RWDSU on June 4. The casino, of course, is a great cash cow for the provincial government, but despite this they have been unwilling to part with a little of it for the employees.



There is a strike support Facebook Page and also a Strike Blog. Look there for more info. All that Molly can say of the government is that it is a more than one armed bandit. It takes the taxes with one hand, the gambling revenues with another, and puts its third hand behind its back when its employees ask for decent wages and working conditions. Sounds like a game you can't win.



Here's an item from the Regina Leader Post about how some of the regulars at the Casino sympathize with the strikers.
RCRCRCRCRCRCRC



Casino Regina regulars on side of striking workers
By PAMELA ROTH, Leader-Post

REGINA — It's getting harder each week for some regular patrons of Casino Regina to cross the picket line in front of the building.

Ever since more than 400 gaming employees went on strike almost three weeks ago after failed attempts to reach a new contract with their employer, the Crown-owned Saskatchewan Gaming Corp., Maryanne Burst would like nothing more than to see both sides get back to the bargaining table.

She doesn't mind having to serve herself a beverage while she's playing the slot machines, but said other casino patrons have been complaining about the lack of employees.

Aside from that, Burst said it's been business as usual for her at the casino slot machines, and she doesn't blame the gaming employees for demanding a raise.

"I think they have to fight for their rights like everybody else," said Burst. "This just allows the high-rollers to save their money."

The casino was active with patrons on Tuesday afternoon, even though all gaming tables are temporarily closed due to the strike, and food and beverage services are limited.

Food and beverage employees are also on the picket line after the decision to strike by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) — the union that represents Casino Regina gaming employees.

The union members, which include dealers, cashiers, security guards and slot attendants, have been without a contract since May 2009.

Wage increases, family leave and night-shift premiums are the outstanding issues.

Edie, who did not want to use her last name, visits the casino to gamble once a week and hasn't been disrupted by the strike.

So far, she's pleased with how the casino has handled the scale-back in a number of services, but admits it's getting harder to drive through the picket line.

"We go in there with an understanding we are not going to get the same services," said Edie. "I feel badly for them (the employees). We hear how much profit the casino makes. They can afford to pay a bit more,"

Since the strike began, PSAC and Sask. Gaming have had limited contact with one another.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Sask. Gaming Corp said the corporation is eager to get back to the bargaining table, but so far no meetings have been arranged.

Fran Mohr, spokesperson for PSAC, said spirits on the picket line are still high.

"We'd had a lot of donations of food and stuff like that," she said. "Even in the rain, everybody is still happy to be here."

Sask. Gaming owns and operates Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw, which are regulated by the provincial government.

proth@leaderpost.canwest.com


Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Casino+Regina+regulars+side+striking+workers/3187723/story.html#ixzz0ruxj8muh

HUMOUR:
IS A HARPER APOLOGY ALL THAT THEY GET ?:

Thursday, June 24, 2010


HUMOUR:
ONE DAMN THING AFTER ANOTHER FOR THE MOUNTIES: