Technology of Exploitation: Intensifying Workers’ Heartrates to Maximize Capitalist Profits

Tesco accused of using electronic armbands to monitor its staff

Supermarket grades employees on efficiency and can reprimand them for breaks, says ex-worker

Kevin Rawlinson Author Biography, The Independent, Wednesday 13 February 2013

Tesco workers are being made to wear electronic armbands that managers can use to grade how hard they are working.

A former staff member has claimed employees are given marks based on how efficiently they work in a bid to improve productivity and can be called in front of management if they take unscheduled toilet breaks.

The armbands are worn by warehouse staff and forklift drivers, who use them to scan the stock they collect from supermarket distribution points and send it out for delivery. Tesco said the armbands are used to improve efficiency and save its staff from having to carry around pens and paper to keep track of deliveries. But the device is also being used to keep an eye on employees’ work rates, the ex-staff member said.

The former employee said the device provided an order to collect from the warehouse and a set amount of time to complete it. If workers met that target, they were awarded a 100 per cent score, but that would rise to 200 per cent if they worked twice as quickly. The score would fall if they did not meet the target. Continue reading

Anti-Austerity Strikes: Protests Grip Europe

Anti-Austerity Strikes: Protests Grip Europe

Anti-austerity protests and strikes

Activists battle with police during violent clashes in Lisbon, as protests against austerity sweep across Europe.

10:21pm UK, Wednesday 14 November 2012
Lisbon

Video: Protests Across Europe Against Austerity

Enlarge

General strike

Rome is being brought to a standstill as anti-austerity protesters take on riot police in the streets.

A wave of anti-austerity anger is sweeping across Europe with general strikes in Spain and Portugal and walkouts in Greece and Italy – grounding flights, closing schools and shutting down transport.

Millions of workers have been taking part in the dozens of co-ordinated protests in a so-called European Day of Action and Solidarity against spending cuts and tax hikes. Continue reading

Hunger Strike: The Irish Experience

by DENIS O’HEARN

When people ask me, “what is the most important thing you learned about Bobby Sands?” I tell them one simple thing. The most important thing about Bobby Sands is not how he died on hunger strike, it is how he lived.

New York – Bıa news agency, 5 November 2012

The hunger strikes of 1980/1981, in which ten men including Bobby Sands died, are the most famous use of that political weapon. Yet hunger striking has a long history in Irish political culture. It is said that the ancient Celts practiced a form of hunger strike called Troscadh or Cealachan, where someone who had been wronged by a man of wealth fasted on his doorstep. Some historians claim that this was a death fast, which usually achieved justice because of the shame one would incur from allowing someone to die on their doorstep. Others say it was a token act that was never carried out to the death – it was simply meant to publicly shame the offender. In any case, both forms of protest have been used quite regularly as a political weapon in modern Ireland.

The history of Irish resistance to British colonialism is full of heroes who died on hunger strike. Some of the best-known include Thomas Ashe, a veteran of the 1916 “Easter Rising”, who died after he was force-fed by the British in Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail. In 1920, three men including the mayor of Cork City Terence MacSwiney died on hunger strike in England’s Brixton Prison. In October 1923 two men died when up to 8,000 IRA prisoners went on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment by the new “Irish Free State” (formed after the partition of Ireland in 1921). Three men died on hunger strike against the Irish government in the 1940s. After the IRA was reformed in the 1970s, hunger strikes became common once again. IRA man Michael Gaughan died after being force-fed in a British prison in 1974. And Frank Stagg died in a British jail after a 62-day hunger strike in 1976.

Unlike in Turkey, the Irish make no distinction between a “hunger strike” and a “death fast,” although many hunger strikes have started without the intention of anyone dying. In 1972, IRA prisoners successfully won status as political prisoners after a hunger strike in which no one died. They were then moved to Long Kesh prison camp, where they lived in dormitory-style huts and self-organized their education (including guerrilla training), work (including cooperative handicrafts production), recreation, and attempts to escape and rejoin the conflict. The prisoners used their relative freedom to raise their collective and individual consciousness about their struggle against British occupation of Ireland. They read international revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Irish socialists such as James Connolly. This was, in turn, a foundation for rebuilding the IRA on a basis that included a less hierarchical and more participative structure, with a higher emphasis on community politics as a part of armed struggle.

As the IRA rebuilt their organization in prison the British government also changed strategy. The main pillar of the new strategy was a “conveyor belt” of security operations that included widespread arrests of young Catholic males, heavy interrogation including torture, and juryless courts in which a single judge pronounced guilt often on the sole basis of verbal or written statements under interrogation. Continue reading

European General Strikes announced: “We don’t owe! We won’t pay!”

Main Greek union calls general strike on November 6-7

ATHENS – Agence France Presse

EPA photo

EPA photo

Greece’s main union to called a 48-hour general strike for November 6-7 in protest at a new wave of austerity measures unveiled by the government in order to unlock EU-IMF bailout loans, AFP reported.

“The central aim and demand of the unions is the rejection (by parliament) of unacceptable, destructive and coercive measures imposed by the troika,” the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) said in a statement, referring to the EU, IMFand European Central Bank.

October/31/2012

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#14N: European General Strike

29 October 2012

Soulevons-nous! Erheben wir uns! Solleviamoci! Continue reading

Northern Ireland: Here Comes Trouble(s) — (again)

[Typically, bourgeois Brit media characterize rebellious violence in Northern Ireland as nonsensical and anarchistic, without good or understandable cause.  This is especially true since the highly touted peace deals were consummated years ago.  But today, conditions in Northern Ireland continue to worsen for the people as the economic crisis grows.  Farmers march in protest of milk prices, mass resentment grows at plans for a celebratory visit by the hated British monarchy, provocative Orange marches are staged, and the gap between the conciliating compradors of Sinn Fein and the abused and discarded working class youth in the streets is a faultline that the powers only address with force. — Frontlines ed.]

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Police Wounded In Northern Ireland Violence

Sky’s David Blevins reports on the anarchy that emerged in Belfast as the annual Orange Order march reached an ugly end.

By David Blevins, Ireland correspondent, Sky News — Friday, July 13, 2012

Nationalist protesters face the police in Ardoyne in north Belfast after an earlier Orange parade returned back past shops in the area

At least 20 police officers have been injured during public disorder at a flashpoint in North Belfast.

Nationalist youths rioted for hours after a loyalist march on a contentious stretch of road.

The teenagers went from hurling missiles to ramming police lines with vehicles they had stolen.

Officers deployed water canon and later fired plastic bullets in an attempt to restore calm.

Police later came under gun attack. Officers escaped injury when at least 10 shots were directed at them.

Nigel Dodds, the Democratic Unionist MP, witnessed the unrest in his constituency.

“There comes a point where everybody has to stand up against people who only are interested in violence,” he said.

The Orange Order had been told it must complete its annual parade earlier than usual.

Loyalists were outraged when the Parades Commission then permitted a nationalist protest march on the road.

Tension reached breaking point when rival factions came face to face, exchanged chants and threw bottles at each other.

Not for the first time, police were caught in the middle.

Protesters clash with police in Ardoyne following an Orange Order parade in north Belfast

Gerry Kelly, a Sinn Fein member the Stormont Assembly, said: “Let’s sit down, talk this out and come to some sort of accommodation. We have had worse problems to solve.”

North Belfast witnesses similar disturbances every July but they are now being fuelled by a power struggle.

Sinn Fein had called for calm but dissident Republicans made no such appeals.

Assistant chief constable Will Kerr, the officer in charge of policing parades in Northern Ireland, encouraged “individuals and communities” affected by trouble to respond in a “calm and responsible manner”.

With the Orange Order demanding its right to walk traditional routes and Catholic residents objecting, the marching season often provides the backdrop for a period of tension on the streets.

Loyalists march to mark the victory of King William of Orange over the Catholic King James in 1690.

To some, it is tradition; to others, triumphalism and they rarely compromise.

Europe’s deepening debt crisis sparks a day of protests, strikes and clashes with police

200,000 take to the streets of Dublin to protest cuts in government programs

NY Daily News, November 24th 2010

 

Debt-stricken Europe was hit by protests, strikes and clashes with police Wednesday.

Strikers brought much of Portugal to a standstill. They all but closed the airport, with passengers unable to get in or out of the country, the Associated Press reports.

In Ireland, proposals were made for its deepest budget cuts in history.

The Irish Stock Exchange saw a plunge in bank stocks as investors panicked and traders speculated on when Portugal and Spain would be the next countries begging for bailouts.

Facing criticism that he has downplayed the scale of Ireland’s financial meltdown, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he expects the European Union-International Money Fund bailout loan to total $115 billion.

“The government is completely in denial about the amount of money they’ll have to borrow,” said Constantin Gurdgiev, a finance lecturer at Trinity College Dublin. Continue reading

Amidst global crisis, the NATO summit in Lisbon: EU and US make a deal for missile shield aimed at Iran

Frontlines Editorial

Recent imperialist meetings have seen many new developments.  The G20 meetings in Seoul, Korea brought limited success to the US’ plans for the world economy. Public disagreements broke out among the imperialist countries over issues of trade, monetary policy and government deficit spending.

The recently concluded NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal  took place in the shadow of the deepening imperialist economic crisis in the US and the European Union. The same week as the summit, the EU and International Monetary Fund had to give Ireland hundreds of billions of dollars to save its failing banks, and Portugal may be next.  Even while the economic ties among the US and EU imperialists are growing increasingly strained, the US and its European allies in NATO were able to agree on a common political and military strategy for defending and expanding their imperialist interests in the Middle  East and Central Asia.

The articles from The Guardian and Al-Jazeera that are posted below only describe what was decided at the NATO summit. Here is Frontlines’ analysis of the summit’s most important decisions. Our comments are more extensive than usual due to the importance of this subject.

Missile Shield

The NATO leaders announced a missile shield that will be deployed in stages beginning in 2011. This is the result of an intense US campaign to focus imperialist military coordination on isolating the Islamic Republic of Iran and forcing it to give up its nuclear program.. Throughout the upcoming decade of construction of a complex multi-billion dollar system against a handful of Iranian missiles, there  will be an ever-present  and hysterical media campaign claiming that the Islamic Republic is run by “unstable fanatics” who are a military threat to Europe and to Israel.  Building the shield against the alleged “threat” from Iran aims to justify tighter US/EU sanctions, and  to prepare political support for military action against Iran.

Afghanistan

The summit also agreed on a timetable for “withdrawal” of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014. This is aimed at defusing growing opposition to the war (eg. the growing number of body bags of US and NATO troops). The 2014 withdrawal date is an attempt to buy time to prevent a total Taliban victory.  The war plans of the US and NATO commanders– launching bigger offensives to clear Taliban forces out of southwest Afghanistan, and  making new attempts  to split the Taliban—are not new and have not prevented the Taliban from growing and spreading throughout the country.  Still, the US and NATO countries have no choice but to continue the war.  All of them see the victory of an anti-Western fundamentalist force like the Taliban as a threat to their imperialist interests in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Russia joins the summit

The most significant development of the summit was the agreement of Russia’s President Medvedev to cooperate with the US and NATO in several areas. Medvedev offered to provide increased military assistance to the Karzai government. The Russian government also wants to see the Taliban defeated in order to cut off a source of support for separatist Islamist forces in Chechnya and the former Soviet Central Asian republics.  Most importantly, Medvedev agreed to work with the US and NATO on the missile shield.  In the months before the summit, President Obama withdrew Bush’s plan to base missile interceptors in Poland, which were aimed at Russia.  Based on the US’ assurance that the new missile system would be directed solely at Iran, the Russian imperialists decided that it was in their interests to cooperate in the development of the shield.  Russia also agreed to support tighter sanctions against Iran, and withdrew from several of its previous agreements with Iran. Continue reading