Workers’ Fightback – Scottish School Sit-in/Iranian Steel/Mexican Standoff

Last year saw a mini wave of school occupations in Britain. A long-standing rooftop protest combined with overwhelming local support kept Lewisham Bridge Primary open, despite Lambeth Council’s determination to make cuts and privatise education. In Glasgow, the Save Our Schools group fought against the proposed closure of twenty-five schools and nurseries, staging occupations in the Maryhill area of the city.

The resistance is continuing into 2010, because last week saw a brief sit-in at St Matthew’s Primary in nearby Wishaw. According to the ‘Save St Matthews’ Bebo group:

“Five protesters refused to leave St Matthew’s Primary School in Wishaw. The four parents and a grandmother began the protest just after 3pm on Thursday when pupils left the building for the day and took resident in a parents’ room. They left at approximately 9am on Friday morning.”

Short-lived though this action was, it shows that relatives of school children are still looking for ways to resist cutbacks, which often dramatically impact their own lives. We can expect more of the same throughout the year.

Iran is often in the news, usually due to conflicts with or within its ruling class. It far more rare to here about workers organising there, and indeed this is extremely dangerous due to the repression meted out by the clerical government. However, workers have started to organise at the massive Isfahan Steel Company. A translation of their public statement declares that:

“[…] faced with an uncertain future and generally worsening conditions, and mindful of the crushing weight of the economic crisis on the workers’ shoulders, we, a group of ISC workers, have decided to form the “Ad Hoc Council of the Isfahan Steel Workers”, whose mission it is to unify the workers’ ranks and defend their rights.”


“Considering the total absence of conditions for open activity, the Council calls upon all workers to set up autonomous labor cells throughout Isfahan Steel. It is our strong belief that without forming these cells, the workers will not be able to advance their aims in any meaningful way. The prime goals of these cells would be to disseminate news and information, to unify the rank and file, and to elect individuals who can represent them and provide leadership for their efforts. These cells could take form on the basis of friendship networks, sports and recreation links, in-house loan associations, etc.”

It is not yet clear how successful this organisation will be, or what form it will take, but the statement illustrates the idea that in Iran – as in every country – the true opposition to the government is to be found amongst the working class, not rival sections of the elite.

A long-running saga in the Mexican electricity industry escalated this week, when ex Luz y Fuerza (Light and Force) workers defied their union, and refused to remove barricades around their former workplaces.

Mexican president Felipe Calderón has been restructuring the Mexican electricity sector. Last October, he dissolved the state-run Luz y Fuerza, sacking its workers. Since then, the sacked former employees have been occupying factories. The occupiers claim that another state power company has been ‘plundering’ turbines from factories, effectively ending the possibility of them being re-opened. So barricades were built, and according to Narco News:

“Representatives from the Mexican Electricians Union (SME) visited the barricades, informed the workers that they were engaging in unsanctioned protest activity, and requested that the workers remove them. Workers at many barricades refused the union’s request, and the union refused to recognize and support the wildcat barricades.”