Swedish anarcho-syndicalists "SAC": 100 years of class struggle

Interview with an activist of the Siberian Confederation of Labour (SKT), Elena Starostin, which tells of the Swedish model of syndicalism and Central Organisation of Swedish Workers (SAC). This old Swedish trade unions celebrated in June 2010, 100 years.

It HCT was visiting the Central Organization of Trade Union Association of Sweden working on activities related to the 100 th anniversary of SAC. With very briefly can you say about this union?

Central Organization of Trade Union Workers of Sweden - SAC there 100 years.This is a real labor unions. SAC set up working with the basis of the anarcho-syndicalist tactics and ideological worldview. That is, an ideological union, class, who plays for internationalism and solidarity of the workers. By workers to form trade unions of enterprises, to fight for our rights at work and outside it, if it involved the violation of workers' rights, is clearly limited by the political parties who use the workers to achieve power.The structure of the SAC as the present syndicalist, that is, horizontal structure, the union clearly anti-authoritarian, has roots government, that is controlled by the workers and bosses-government ideologues.

SAC now has more than 6000 officially registered union members. But apart from that there are parallel youth organization SUF (syndicalist Youth Federation) and anti-fascist organization, working in conjunction with SAC.

SAC has its offices and so-called LS (local section) in many cities and towns, then there is a sort of union of cells.They work independently, have their cash contributions and may have their own premises. Delegates from the local MP going to the Congress every three years to address and coordinate action.There are syndicates in that branch, but not only. There are associations of people in the union of social problem. For example, group "register", which combines the illegal immigrants to claim their rights.

4 times a year brings together representatives from drugs to coordinate action and solutions to pressing problems. I was fortunate to attend such a meeting. I was pleasantly surprised with some responsibility and attention was listened to, a representative from the local networks SAC the other comrades. As a simple working together to address and plan further action at this meeting that the union and the tactics of its cells or solidarity action.It was noticeable in people libertarian, syndicalist, and not afraid of the word, an anarchist tradition of the association.

What is the most important difference SAC from the traditional trade unionism? How would you make the definition of syndicalism as a working theory and practice?

For me, SAC - a syndicalist union, which has and maintains the tradition of this class of Trade Unions, which includes the workers themselves, without employers and managed it themselves as workers, to protect and defend our rights at work and outside it.In fact, that's amazing - SAC ideological union, that is, I was struck by workers in the offices of the union - they call themselves mostly anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists, and I saw a different literature libertarian content by reading the workers, they clearly represent and continue the tradition labor unions that the final objective is the transition into the hands of the workers the means of production.

The principle of not participating in political parties and elections, and the pressure on the government by direct action and control of the government through the trade unions of workers, which helps to keep SAC and guard against corruption and worthlessness partbossov and profbossov and SAC features from trade unions.Unfortunately, in Russia - the worker who stuffed the state machine as the Bolsheviks and the neoliberals - paternalism, and having conformist tendencies, can not imagine the world any ideology or even a tendency to self-organization and the smallest seeds of self-government. The harder it is to re-create in people the principles of mutual aid, solidarity, and before you know it, and ideological union workers and local self government institutions.

Well, the difference from the SAC TUC can be simplified and compared with the trade unions yunionskimi England who participate in the election and nominate their functionaries in the party.But in Russia, even this is not, there is just a show alleged union activities under the name FNPR.

I'm not going to bad.

In general, SAC continues 100 years later, of course, not without difficulty, this tradition of labor unions, maintaining a working environment of solidarity, the vision of the ultimate goal of a just work without the employer, but with the help of management and ownership of a business by the workers themselves.

Syndicalist and anarcho-syndicalist organizations are not so massive, and is sometimes blamed syndicalism.Can be mass, especially mass formal, not so important?

Integration of people in the organization to defend their rights and freedoms, to implement their ideas, help others in the same groups of people have already shown the ability of people to self-organization from below.In my opinion, these associations often occur spontaneously, to solve any arising social problems. But when the problem is solved, and this group of people having a practice of social struggle, feeling the essence of solidarity, feeling the joy of shared practices and satisfaction from helping others, does not disintegrate, but will exist in the future, will develop the principles of their organization without leaders, On a voluntary basis, to work out solutions together - we can assume that this syndicalist actions of people.

It is hard to imagine that in an era of neoliberalism, people in large numbers are able to associate in organizations that operate on principles of mutual aid, self-organization, self, without bosses.

Society must learn anew awareness and usefulness of these principles to humans.So when even a small syndicalist organizations formed the company to defend labor rights, if it operates on the principles of self-government, anarchy, solidarity - this is an example for others who can learn from the practices to combat the organization, for example, for a fair wage for Safety at Work etc.In the SAC gave examples of successful actions in the factories, when three men from the SAC formed a union and were able to convince people to organized protests for better pay and protection of laid-off employees. Following these events, workers are also included in the SAC.

Of course, do not discount the fact that in Europe the idea of the struggle of workers at the plant for their rights are traditional.

Theoretically, the mass worker when it comes to the struggle for labor rights is of paramount importance, and experience shows that it is the mass protests brought results in the improvement of the economic rights of the employee.But when this protest took place, the people dispersed to their homes, jobs, remaining alone with their problems, employers, fears and so on. When there are organizations in which people can discuss together the problems together to realize the reality and its tragic side, together to develop ideas for a better life, then it can be called an ideological organization, which subsequently will change the lives of everybody for the better.Then the number is not so important, let it be three to five people, but if they do not withdraw, but would be theoretically and practically to act anyway they will have their supporters.

Perhaps we should not get hung up on numbers, because we can generally give up, looking at the conformist majority in society. The essence of any revolt of the people, protesting workers - syndicalist, coming from below.If people are united around the idea after protests will be organized for further action, mass of such an organization will increase. .

What are the trade unions from other countries cooperating SAC? What do you think is the relationship?

Well, of course, with black and red trade unions, who believe the ideological basis anarcho-syndicalism.

This union IWW (Industrial Workers of the world) - the legendary union worker with an interesting history.

French trade union CNT (National Confederation of Labour), the German trade union FAU (Free Workers' Union), which is not having a great strength in Germany, has an impact on their policy of direct action and litigation.Spanish black-red union CGT (General Confederation of Labour) - the most numerous union among the European black-red unions, to 60,000 union members. Some Italian unions UNICOBAS and USI.

I think that cooperation, such as spiral CT, has played an important role for us. After all, in the 90's and 2000 SAC conducted seminars and meetings for the workers of Siberia, creating the primary cell unions.SKT is helped in practical actions. We are in our cooperation gained a lot of theoretical basis for the labor movement in Europe, the basics of syndicalist workers' movement.

Cooperation between the trade unions primarily is shared care and support of union members who are subjected to pressure from the authorities, the employer. By exchange of experience of struggle, solidarity actions, exchange of theoretical materials, ideas of libertarian society.

What are the regional organizations SAC strongest? Can it be called an international trade union SAC?

In the SAC there are 54 organizations that are locally independent, have their contributions to the premises, produce his local newspaper.At a meeting in the regional offices we thought that all branches are very active. By the number of dominant branch of SAC in Malmo and Gothenburg. But, for example, a small town in the heart of Yoping Scandinavia has good strength and activity, as there are large enterprises such as IKEA.It is natural to mention a branch in Stockholm, which makes the action and shares in enterprises to defend the rights of workers.

SAC course international union. In addition, the recently formed group "Register", which brings illegal immigrants to protect their rights.

Did you become a witness or a party to any direct action carried out by members of the SAC? Tell us about it.


In Stockholm, SAC conducted the blockade-picketing one of the most elite restaurants Burns.As the institution employed illegal immigrants and hired workers, labor rights have been violated, even not giving them wages. We were present at the siege of the restaurant in the protection and restoration of the rights of workers. The blockade of the restaurant are offered daily from 11 pm to three nights. People with SAC blocked the entrance to the restaurant stretch, handing out leaflets to visitors at the same time, explaining the reason for the blockade. Was it the police, who tried to drive away protesters from the entrances. But there was no police force is not applied, but was constantly in tension and willingness to use it.

Visitors to the restaurant, apparently configured to hold a fun time, of course took place in the restaurant, but the shouts and chants of the protesters who expressed their attitude to the leadership of the institution.There were those visitors who turned around and went to learn the cause of the blockade.

We showed the protests in the city of Malmo, members of the local branch of protesting at the restaurant, to protect the rights of the employee.This worker was beaten by the Director, so that he was in hospital. Members of the SAC blocked the entrance to the restaurant, demanding to remove from the work of the head and bring him to trial. We also showed in Malmo strike social workers who demanded higher wages. There, the police behaved much cruelty, when demonstrators who blocked the office heads the company with the requirements of higher wages, they were subjected to gas attacks. Police used gas at close range, and after pulling the encircled could picketers.

SAC in the policy documents is against capitalism, with its system of wage labor.Organization of the future society SAC sees as libertarian (free) socialism. What is libertarian socialism and how it differs from the "socialism" in the former Soviet Union?

I lived in the heyday of so-called barracks socialism in the USSR. My family was working.
I talked to the same children from working families and saw all his life working inside. We lived just a job, my father plowed, saving money on vacations, so-called leisure, bride-price for an extra penny.About chiefs responded to the workers' families as landlords, the same approach. Many of the workers were drinking, I now understand why. After all, we have socialism in the USSR, you are our workers, you should be free and happy! A radio and television speech sickening leaders and Congress, snickering bureaucrats, directors of factories, with disgust, watching the workers. Then wash it down from reality. The mass of workers in such an authoritarian socialism, as operated, only more terrible.We, then students are taught that these workers do not have owners, because they work for the benefit of the state, that we should not protest, and thoughts about freedom of speech, because we have socialism, all of justly.

Workers in such barracks socialism, not learned, and even worse, forgotten all sense of rebellion, protest, when you and your company the right to violate. After all, the entire mass of workers were told that the state with such socialist care for them. Authoritarian socialism where the government headed by the party nomenklatura (the exploiting class) sits at the trough of benefits earned by workers of my parents and the same other workers, and distributes them as he sees fit, to silence rebellious disaccustoms people to think and fight, now led us to a passive , paternalistic mass of working people.

And with libertarian socialism is the opposite.Local government from the bottom up, blurring the state (yes, anarchist principles, gentlemen statesmen) based on self-organized, solidarity groups, communities of people who are on the basis of treaties create social life, where people make their own decisions.But there must be non-conformist thinking most of the addict and although governments care about equity and fair form of governance. So SAC has already started this way their syndicalist action.

As far as the experience of Swedish syndicalism can be useful in Russia?

Immediately, I note that the conditions for the workers' struggle for their rights are different. In Sweden, the syndicalists often we were told that police and security forces do not have the right and not get involved in the conflict and employers.We have the workers who go to protests and strikes immediately subjected to pressure from local authorities and security forces, as they would be distracting, intimidating, blunt the activity of the workers.

Power authorities openly declare their actions that the workers' struggle for their rights is already undermining the interests of the state. Try with this fight.

But it seemed to me more valuable, that there is constant activity and the work of small groups of cells SAC, which are seeing a problem in the enterprise or in the region related to the violation of rights, are beginning to develop this theme at the first meetings in small groups, elaborating it theoretically and thoroughly.For example the problem of illegal workers, a decision which they went through theoretical study has resulted in their organization "Register", where the assembled emigrants, unprotected, have developed a system of mutual aid and support. When businesses that use so-called prekarizatsionnye (not guaranteed) forms of labor, subjected to protests and press coverage. Working in groupsne "Register" help each other financially through the Mutual Aid Fund, vznosami.SAC has a good experience campaigning via small pamphlet, written in simple language, which are distributed to workers in enterprises at the time of maturing of the conflict there.

A lot of visual techniques used in the brochures for the workers, there are good artists that depict the problem and its solution in terms of image, image, thereby making the worker myslit.Samoorganizatsiya and planning their actions can have a local office funding for maintenance of premises, or even your coffee .
This is solved through direct contributions and reporting.There is a constant succession of generations. After all, in parallel with the SAC, which includes only workers who have a youth group SUF (syndicalist Youth Federation) and anti-fascist group. They also have their contributions to systematically gather to discuss problems and their solutions.

Yes, the SAC is the so-called functionaries, who of course are established only to meet any organizational issues. The cell selects the so-called human function and it is in the room, working papers, taking phone calls.We met the guys who showed us a movie about the structure and working methods of the SAC, their direct actions. They were at that time were people function, but this does not mean that we have not seen with other comrades, it is simply a more rational way of managing.

I do not think that the Swedish comrades exaggerate the importance of SAC and its impact on society, because they too understand that the majority of the population is under the influence of capitalism. But the fact that SAC may come to the company, and having three or two members, to organize a strike, it is already a success.The fact that the syndicalists are personally try and keep the tradition of syndicalism is 100 years old and is in a society very much, otherwise the Swedish society has had such a high social status of ordinary citizens. That paternalistic, conformist rotten spirit in the workers passing away at the expense of action and continuity of the syndicalists, and gives us experience and hope.

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