cwi: international conference – Anti-war and anti-capitalism in Germany

cwi international conference.

This report is taken from written contributions from cwi sections that were presented to the 21-26 November meeting of the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the cwi, held in Belgium. cwi online

Anti-war and anti-capitalism

Building the cwi in Germany in 2003

The year 2003 saw the 30th anniversary of the CWI in Germany. In December 1973 the first issue of “Voran” was published. The year 2003 was the most successful year for the organisation in many respects. We organised school students’ strikes of more than 200,000 against the war on Day X and we initiated the 100,000-strong demonstration against social cuts on 1November.

We are close to reaching the all-time-high of membership.

In the fifth year of the SPD (social democratic)/Green coalition government the objective situation is marked by a three year long period of economic stagnation and recession, an offensive by the government against the working class, a deep crisis of confidence towards the political parties, especially the SPD, and an enormous anger amongst workers and unemployed, which was reflected in the 100,000 strong mass demonstration against the government’s social cuts of 1 November.

The level of class struggle has been lower in Germany than in other European countries over the last period but this is beginning to change. The 1 November demonstration marks a turning point and has a dialectical effect on the mood of the working class and on perspectives for the class struggle. It is likely that at the latest in spring next year we will see a generalised movement, possibly even a general strike. The main target for the SAV is to get prepared for this situation and to participate in these decisive processes.

In the first half of the year our main campaign was against the war on Iraq by US imperialism. A little late, but still in time to use it for the mass movement, we launched the campaign ‘Youth Against War’. Through this we called for school students’ strikes on the day the war started. More than 200,000 youth were mobilised by YAW, with 80,000 in Berlin and 50,000 in Hamburg. The demos called by YAW were bigger and more political than any others. Most importantly we succeeded in turning these demonstrations into anti-government protests against the practical support Germany gave to the US Army. The YAW profile (and through this the SAV profile) was extremely high. A national daily carried an “investigative article” discovering that the youth strikes were “organised by the cadres of SAV”. SAV members spoke on numerous local and national demonstrations.

Significantly we were also able to organise two work stoppages in one hospital where a comrade is the chair of the workers’ representation committee. The call for strike actions against the war was one of our main campaigning points.

After the end of the war we orientated the party to the questions of social cuts, unemployment etc. We raised the idea of a national demonstration against the government’s cuts’ programme as a first step to a one-day general strike. When, in late spring, the union leaders announced an end to public protests we said that such a demonstration should be organised from below. We approached the left currents within the unions and a conference of unemployed groups with the idea of organising an activists’ conference to call such a demonstration.

This conference then called the November 1st demo. Our delegate to the ver.di congress held two weeks before the demo played an important part in getting the congress to support the demo. Without exaggeration, we can say that this demonstration would not have taken place at this point in time without us.

On the demo one comrade chaired the opening rally and another comrade was the speaker for the youth on the demonstration. 150 SAV comrades were present. We organised a youth contingent of 800, sold 700 papers, and raised 1,300 euros for the fighting fund.

That means that in 2003 our organisation played a decisive role in organising two of the biggest mobilisations in recent years.

The broad left opposition which we lead in the public sector union ver.di (the “network”) has a very good reputation and we are part of organising a broader conference of left-wing ver.di members which will take place early next year. At the moment we are trying to establish local branches of the network in three cities. At the hospital where one comrade leads the workers’ representation committee we have established an action committee against the closure of the hospital. We had one delegate to the ver.di congress who had a high profile on the congress. In spring one comrade was a delegate to the ver.di youth congress and was able to get a resolution in support for a one-day general strike passed.

We are involved in the national network of the trade union left and in some local groups of the trade union left.

Other positive developments in the industrial field were that we were able to recruit some apprentices in the car industry.

Socialism Days

This year’s ‘Socialism Days’ event was again very successful despite the fact that the timing was unfortunate shortly after the end of the Iraq war. More than 400 people attended and 12 new members were recruited.

The areas organise local Socialism Weekends at the end of November to reach out to the periphery we made during the recent campaign against social cuts.

New areas

We were able to build an active branch in Saarbrücken. We have started meetings of comrades and contacts in Frankfurt/Main.

Next year will also see a number of council elections where we will stand (either under our own banner or as part of left wing alliances) and where we see the possibility to win our first councillor/s.

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January 2004