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(en) Czech, Ostrava Anarchist Federation: Trade union demonstration in Ostrava: looking back after 18 years by oafed [machine translation]

Date Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:29:50 +0200

We are reprinting a report from the Ostrava demonstration in May 2003 by a local group of the Organization of Revolutionary Anarchists - Solidarity (ORA-S), where anarchists were handing out leaflets among angry workers at the time. The article appeared on the now canceled website alarm.solidarita.org ---- Although with a long delay, but still: what was it like on May 22 at the trade union demonstration in Ostrava? On the stage of moralizing, the pacification of anger at "life" under the dictatorship of capital, thunderous challenges, for a while we went to Ostrava, then again to Prague - and down to ratchets and trade union flags and disinterest... and also growing anger.
So a worker shouted at a man in a blue vest with the inscription "Organizer - OS KOVO", who angrily left the trade union demonstration in Ostrava. "Volem" meant the head of the CMKOS Milan Štech. Soon after, our group of communists and anarchists left with similar feelings to wash away the speeches of the union bosses with beer. However, all the nearby pubs were already full of people who could not stand it and ran away even earlier. In short, nothing revolutionary happened in Ostrava. Only in general is confidence in the meaning of similar actions and the effectiveness of the numb chatter of trade union leaders beginning to wane.

Originally, it was to be demonstrated against the dismissal from Nová huta. And given that the dismissal is also about to fall in Vítkovice and Vagónka Studénka, we were curious about the mood among the workers and whether they would come to demonstrate together. When the CMKOS announced that it would currently extend the demonstration to a protest against the new reform of state finances and that it would be the largest demonstration in Ostrava since 1989, our curiosity increased even more... And with it the doubts that were confirmed. In the end, the CMKOS announced the whole event as directed against unemployment. All the original statements have been forgotten. They were replaced by a poster with slogans, clearly indicating that all the real problems that burn people will, as usual, be buried under humble calls to the government, whose sole purpose is - to maintain social peace.

On the way to Masaryk Square, where the demonstration took place, we first met a group of hooligans Baník Ostrava, each in a blue OS KOVO cap, over the shoulder of the trade union flag and half-empty pints in their hands. The boring speeches of the union bosses obviously did not impress them or fill them with enthusiasm, so they left for a beer again. Immediately after them, we were greeted by a senile Stalinist in a T-shirt with Che Guevara, who forced the leaflets of Štepán's party (KSCS-CSSP) on us. As we later learned, he was taken out of the demonstration area thanks to the exemplary cooperation of trade union organizers and police officers, which we were soon to feel first hand. Its purpose was to prevent any non-union initiative.

Beneath the grandstand, above which stood a banner with the slogan "Stop Unemployment," crowded a crowd of about 3,000 carefully organized trade unionists with flags, caps, whistles, and rattles. He seemed to be hanging on his foremen's lips. Anyway, we didn't get into their disciplined lines. There were perhaps 4,000 freely scattered people around them, who were not very loyal to the unions.

So we parted to the crowd handing out leaflets and trying to have some discussion with others. However, there were organizers everywhere and a few gems, so any communication was limited to offering a leaflet and possibly swapping a few words - then we had to get lost in the crowd before the more active organizers noticed us. Nevertheless, one of us was captured and pushed out of the demonstration as a "provocateur". Others were more lucky and gave away everything, or came across lax organizers who didn't care and didn't notice anyone - especially when they saw people gathering around one of us and taking the leaflets themselves. As we passed two organizers from the miners' union, one called out pleadingly, "Guys, don't distribute the leaflets here." "Why?" "This is our event and we do not want any propaganda here," he replied. "And what they slap on you in the stands, isn't propaganda? " we ask. "Well, I know they're explaining nonsense, but this is a union action, not yours," he replies - and takes one of the last five leaflets we have left.

Co se týce tech pár reakcí, které jsme zachytili a nemeli cas ani prostor rozvést, lze je nejvýstižneji obsáhnout slovy dvou lidí, kterí se s námi dali trochu do reci. "Pryc se sociálním smírem," cetl jeden z prítomných delníku na našem letáku, "no, to je pravda, už by se melo neco udelat." Další si nahlas procetl první vetu letáku, kde se mluvilo o propouštení v Nové huti, Vítkovicích a Vagónce Studénka, aby pak další dva odstavce dorekl sám: "Jo, propouštení jsme u nás na Nové huti zažili už mockrát, je nás tam cím dál mín a všechny tyhle akce byly vždycky k nicemu."

And in the meantime, (tragi) comic performances by Messrs. Sábel, Štech and others took place in the stands. At first they thundered that they would not go to Prague. On the contrary! They want Prague to come after them, and therefore they are behind the radical demand that the next tripartite meeting take place in Ostrava! For a while, however, they again threatenedly said that if the government did not heed their demands, they would invite us to a demonstration in Prague.

And what are those requirements? So, unions do not mind cuts in the social field when it comes to cuts where social security is abused. To leave no one in doubt, they stressed that they certainly do not defend those who do not want to "honestly work" and only parasitize on a poor state, including those who work illegally. We have heard a moral sermon on how beautiful and beneficial it is to work and how horrible unemployment is, because it burdens the state budget and leads to an increase in alcoholism and drug addiction. It's hard to say whether to laugh at the trade union paratroopers or cry over myself when work sucks me as well as non-work and when I do what I can to rip it off and with it this whole system based on our exploitation.

Despite the strict organization, the top number of this trade union show was not taken care of by bureaucrats, but by a group of several workers. With a clear awareness of the futility and ridiculousness of the whole event, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Unlike us, they made so much sense that they reduced the sensitivity of brain cells in the pub in advance to make it easier for survivors' union gossip. But above all, they came up with their own banner made of the Soviet flag, on which, next to the sickle and hammer, the inscription shone: "Every Spidla will go to the soap." And to the considerable nervousness of the trade union officials, they stood right next to the tribune with him and with the waved flags of OS KOVO.

The organizers failed to persuade them to pack their banner, so they sent police officers to them. They came out with a paragraph and began to take their banner and threaten to take it too. However, the workers did not give up and dragged themselves over the banner to the Fízlov car, to which the two poor people from the Police of the Czech Republic pressed and continued the quarrel and push. When one of the workers went to the cops with the words "If you'd rather chase the tunnelers, not decent people!" and one secret fizl or trade union official (which came out in the same way at this demonstration) began to shrug on him, then angry workers began to shout at each other: "Radek, fire him!" "I'll break their handle!" Desperate linemen and secrets (?) No longer knew which one - and so they began to threaten reinforcements. And since the atmosphere did not look like the riots, the workers soberly decided

The purpose of this whole prank, directed by the CMKOS, was, in the end, nothing more than to maintain the hegemony of the unions over the working class and to divert any potential of class confrontation to harmless reformism. Not a word has been said about our human needs as proletarians. Instead, the trade union bosses imposed the bourgeois ideology of labor on all as a real blessing. They sought to encourage the division of the proletariat into those who "work honestly" and those who do not work honestly, although we are all forced by capital to cope with the hated reality of wage labor, and unemployment together with undeclared work is just another form of the same misery it is currently advantageous for capital. Also in stirring up regionalist sentiments, the leaders found a good means of diverting attention from the reality of the exploitation of the proletariat of the bourgeoisie: Ostrava is being exploited by Prague, that is the problem! They were also careful not to turn this demonstration into an opportunity to unite the workers of Nová huta, Vítkovice and Studénka and to start their joint struggle. There was a grave silence over something like this. At least in the stands...

In short, there was nothing to do about this demonstration other than to express our own rebellion against capital and to attack the unions in the leaflets, which in all their forms will always lead us to integration into the capitalist system. And it seems that we were far from the only ones who felt the same way in Ostrava. However, the next class struggles will show how much the confidence in the unions is really collapsing and there is room for the autonomous self-organization of the proletariat. And even in them, it is revealed whether the autonomy of our class will lead only to new reformist activity or question wage labor as the basis and part of the capitalist system.

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