The London Anarchist Federation would like to make a statement of solidarity with sex workers. This comes following conversations at the Anarchist Bookfair with sex worker comrades who had felt let down by the level of solidarity they had received from other anarchists. We hope this statement will be a first step towards improving that situation, to encourage further acts of solidarity and relationship building from anarchists towards sex workers’ struggle.
Sex workers are workers. They are members of the working class. As class struggle anarchists, we stand in solidarity with all workers against their domination under capitalism. The call for sex workers to be seen as workers is echoed by global and local sex worker organisations such as the Global Network of Sexwork Projects and English Collective of Prostitutes.
As revolutionaries, we aim towards a world free from capitalism and the necessity to undertake work. At the same time, we must support workers in their struggle against their material conditions in the here and now. There will be no revolution without the building of networks of solidarity between the most oppressed in our society. We support sex workers in their resistance against poor working conditions, whilst also struggling for a world in which none of us will be coerced to sell our labour in order to survive.
We support the call of these organisations for sex work to be decriminalised. This involves the removal of sex work-specific laws and for it to be treated as any other work. This is distinct from both legalisation and the ‘Nordic model’ of client criminalisation. The latter both expand the state’s role in worker’s lives, and increase the marginalisation of those already most oppressed.
Decriminalisation also increases sex workers’ power to collectively self-organise, and makes it safer to be open about their work if they wish. Many people in the sex industry experience physical and psychological violence, such as rape and trafficking. Many will want to leave. Decriminalisation, by improving workers’ rights, makes it easier to find safety through working collectively, to report abuse, and to find support should they wish to leave.
Whilst we do not extend our support to bourgeois organisations such as Amnesty International – which are so often used as tools of imperialism – we nonetheless agree with their broad conclusion that decriminalisation improves sex workers’ rights and working conditions.
None of these models are perfect solutions, as attested by sex worker organisations themselves. But as anarchists we agree that there will be no emancipation for sex workers by increasing the state’s ability to harass, detain and deport them.
We would encourage other anarchists and anarchist organisations to make similar statements in support of sex workers, and to make efforts to build links with sex worker organisations to enable us to work together more effectively in future.
London Anarchist Federation
Some commented numbers were slightly down on the year previous when the RMT threw their weight behind the Mayday march after Bob Crows death. On the way to the rallying point people would have come across an SWP banner emblazoned with “Hands off Tower Hamlets”. They’re consistent, if nothing else, we should give them that.
Starting off at Clerkenwell Green, you were overwhelmed by the 57 varieties of Stalinism both overseas and domestic. When one looks overseas, you have serious militancy being shown on Mayday; there is a worry that the British equivalent is being turned into a historical re-enactment society being led by the bureaucratic trade union wing of the labour movement.
There were smatterings of union banners and housing campaigns, but alongside that you had ample banners with Stalin and even on one occasion Soviet-era style military formation marching with flags. Agh, working class regimentation, just what we need! But anarchists weren’t about to be undone with the pointless A to B marches and a half empty Trafalgar Square.
At 4pm there was an initiation to briefly occupy Tower Bridge to highlight the lack of social housing and the continuing gentrification/social cleansing of London. Recent reports suggest fifty thousand have been pushed out of London because of the increased cost of living.
A large contingent of activists were able to take the bridge stopping peak-time traffic accompanied by flares and then impromptu like snake around to London Bridge with a large police escort before scattering to the four winds at the other end of London Bridge.
After a brief restbite from the occupation of the bridge, the Mayday evenings, happenings, were put together by Class War under the auspices of their widely touted ‘Fuck Parade’. In Germany, apparently ‘Fuck Parade’ is a counter-cultural festival with anti-gentrification flushes to allow city dwellers to express a sense of community in places where they’re being squeezed out. Starting off near Aldgate East a large crowd of several hundred revellers started off with a make-shift sound system before spilling out into the road. There was concern that the police would confiscate the sound-system, but they must have thought better than taking on the crowd.
From Aldgate East the crowd took the long almost sporadic journey to Soho Square, avoiding the various ambushes of the entourage of police who followed them, taking in the capitals sights while avoiding mass arrests. The police were of course on hand to protect various assets from protests along the way including Southwark Council offices and oddly a pub full of what, I assume, were bankers.
The entourage encountered a lot of questions on its way around. A major criticism is that more could have been done to explain to all and sundry with either literature or banners what the full purpose of the march was, but sufficient people showed an interest and conversations were had. And some people did join us on route.
After a trek and half the make shift sound system and followers ended up a convergence hub just off Soho Square, put together by the Squatters Homeless Autonomous (SHA) crew to highlight the 74,000 empty properties in London. No doubt the powers that be will prioritise their removal, above any of the progressive demands being put forward on social housing.
All in all the day was a militant display for Mayday. With a bit of forward thinking we can rescue the whole sordid affair from the dustbin of history where some would happy it was confined.
Remember the dead, fight for the living!
Anarchist Federation members will be attending the meeting advertised below with an open mind and a willingness to work with other revolutionaries
East London Workers Assembly and Bulletin
Dear friends and fellow strugglers,
Please feel invited to join the discussion and planning of a regular
local workers’ assembly and bulletin in East London.
The assembly should be a meeting point for direct proletarian mutual
aid, for strike support, for debate about the current global
developments of class struggle.
The bulletin should be distributed regularly on a modest mass-base
according to capacity. Focus should be a political summary of
international stage of class war and detailed reports from local
workers: what does it mean to live and work under the austerity regime,
how do we cope individually, what potentials and difficulties for
collective responses do we see?
Below you can find a longer political proposal, which could form the
basis for further discussion. We will meet:
Saturday, 8th of December 2012, 4 pm
LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel
If you can’t make it on this date, but are generally interested, please
send us a note:
London AF fully supported picket put on by the IWW in London yesterday outside the British Medical Association in solidarity with the outsourced cleaners who work there. A good turnout of twenty or so joined the picket. There was a good reception from passing public with many taking the IWW leaflet. Keep up the pressure!!
See here for more info
London AF supported the picket on Tuesday October 2nd. It was a great success- much sympathy for the cleaners’ cause from passersby and doctors. Let’s keep up the pressure to make the BMA tell their cleaning sub contractor to agree to the cleaners’ demands
Over twenty London members of the radical industrial union the Industrial Workers of the World and sympathisers braved the cold on Saturday 4th February at a very successful picket targeting one of Pizza Hut’s larger London restaurants at the Strand. The picket was organised by the London IWW General Membership Branch in solidarity with the Sheffield IWW Pizza Hut Union call out for a national day of action against the Pizza chain. The London picket was one of a string of solidarity actions held worldwide in addition to the main Sheffield Pizza Hut picket. Solidarity demonstrations took place in Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, Calais, Portland, Vancouver, and Berlin.
Keeping up a vibrant and spirited atmosphere despite the frosty temperatures, the picketers distributed hundreds of flyers over the course of the afternoon to customers, staff and passers-by.
The London IWW General Members Branch were joined by a significant number of sympathisers, including members of the Anarchist Federation in London and North and South London Solidarity Federation.
Workers at the Coca-Cola manufacturing and bottling plant have been on strike for many weeks. They strike on Wednesday and Thursday of each week and picket lines are mounted between 3pm and 9 pm. For more information contact Practical Solidarity at firstname.lastname@example.org.