anarchist notes : iwa-ait splits


Update (June 9, 2016) : Response to the Yellow CNT on the IWA (CNT-AIT Regional de Levante).

Well it’s hardly ‘news’, but it’s note-worthy: the International Workers’ Association (IWA) / Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores (AIT) — the anarcho-syndicalist international — appears set to split. The December 2015 congress of the Spanish CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo / National Confederation of Labour) apparently decided to ‘refound’ the IWA-AIT on a different organisational basis. The CNT has published an explanatory note (in English) titled ‘CNT on the re-foundation of the IWA. CNT-E’s XI Congress agreements on internacionalism’, which claims, inter alia, that:

… we have found sections in the current IWA to have very little commitment to union work in their local context. Rather, they exert enormous efforts to monitor the activities of other sections, larger or smaller, that do make this area a priority. Consequently, over the past few years, the IWA has become inoperative as a vehicle to promote anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary unionism at an international level.

In addition to complaints about inactivity/bad practices, the statement also claims that the current general secretary of the IWA-AIT acted unilaterally to expel the German section (FAU). This claim, along with others, is disputed by the general secretary. See : On The Publication of the CNT Spain Regarding the IWA.

Currently, the IWA has the following sections:

Priama Akcia (SLOVAKIA)
Solidarity Federation (ENGLAND)

The FAU and USI — which, after the CNT, are the largest sections in terms of membership — have welcomed the CNT’s declaration, and would seem likely to join the ‘refoundation’. See : Erklärung des FAU-Kongress 2016 (May 17, 2016) and Le Mozioni del Congresso straordinario dell’USI-AIT (April 17, 2016). (The IWA has published a response to the USI statement here.)

Further discussion on the split/proposed refoundation can be found on Robert Graham’s (excellent) blog: The CNT Splits from the IWA (April 12, 2016).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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8 Responses to anarchist notes : iwa-ait splits

  1. Ann Kij says:

    The proper word is “split”, not refoundation, because the IWA has not decided to refound itself and no part of it can decide this on their own. It is a basic principle that members decide things according to statutes and at Congresses of the Federation, not behind closed doors.

    I don’t think it is a good practice to spread rumors or false accusations, although here you do at least go through the motions of showing “two sides”. You have an IWA Section in your city and you can check with them how valid certain “claims” are. They aren’t valid, but you repeat them instead of checking facts, which you could do. Also, it is very sectarian and biased to quote one side but not any other. Or maybe you know better than those involved about things?

    The only instance which decides who is to be or not to be is the IWA Congress as set out in the statutes. Not any Secretary and not any one, two or three Sections cutting out the rest.

    In any case, further reading for those interested:

  2. @ndy says:

    @Ann Kij:

    A few things:

    I agree with you that the term ‘split’ is probably more appropriate than ‘refoundation’, which is partly why I adopted the former term in the title of the post. That said, it appears to be the case that the situation is still in flux and I’m not sure that a formal break has occurred as yet. To put it another way, there’s a range of questions still to be resolved in terms of how the CNT and others intend to proceed.

    Yes, there’s an IWA section in Australia and I’ll add any statement the ASF produces on the matter when it does, as I’ll attempt to do in the case of other sections. I’ve included only formal statements that have been produced in English by the CNT and IWA and two statements by the FAU and USI (as well as a response by the IWA) — so I’m not sure what you mean by ‘only quoting one side’.

  3. Ann Kij says:

    In your text you literally quote the arguments of one side. Please read what you wrote. You are just republishing false allegations, which l am sure the local comrades can confirm.

  4. Bye bye says:

    The IWA doesn’t work properly and it doesn’t grow.

    Some sections are only interested in the money of the IWA which is sent by the bigger unions (USI-FAU-CNT are more than 90% of the members) and the bigger anarchosyndicalist sections decided to turn off the tap because a minority of members take decisions against a majority, and all the people know how it is called…

    Bye, bye, akai.

  5. ablokeimet says:

    Bye Bye: “because a minority of members take decisions against a majority, and all the people know how it is called…”

    This statement is very revealing. It displays that the supporters of the current CNT majority (I have no knowledge of whether they will be able to maintain their majority, but I know it is under challenge) have abandoned federalism. Their appeal to majority rule is, in fact, a threat to the autonomy of constituent sections.

    The organisational principles of Anarchism include consistent federalism. When we build federations, they are not bodies on the lines of the Commonwealth of Australia, where 6 centralised bodies come together and federate, ceding the central body authority in certain defined areas. Rather, when Anarchists build federations, they are federal from top to bottom, with no nodes of centralisation and with the lower bodies having autonomy in relation to the decisions of higher bodies at all times. In this structure, there is no room for majority rule and therefore no need to count the memberships of the bodies federating.

    Finally, one thing about the CNT position which I find contradictory is its insistence on a version of majority rule on the one hand, while on the other hand it resists answering questions from the IWA Secretariat – questions which include, I understand, verifying its claimed membership numbers. If the CNT has its way and an affiliate is given more votes in return for having more members, verification of membership numbers would become a matter of the highest importance. Without credible verification processes, an affiliate could strengthen its voting power by artificially inflating its membership figures. The CNT majority should ask itself whether it trusts its opponents to be scrupulous in reporting their numbers of members if, by doing so, they would endanger getting their way at a Congress.

  6. Bye bye says:

    I’m not sure that pay per member and vote per a capitalist’s country’s division is exactly anarchist and federalist, more when a decision of 20 persons have the value of 1000 people in other country (section) for example. It’s an obvious method of decisions and money control by a minority.

    Only it will have some sense with big unions of 10000 and 30000, or so, as IWA was before.

    If some sections organize some conferences about how to improve an anarchosyndicalist international organization, it’s not against IWA statutes.

    Please think a little and close your mouth and control your fingers.

  7. Rudi says:

    On the 2nd 4th December 2016 there was a well attended
    congress of the IWA held in Warsaw, Poland whereupon it was
    resolved to reaffirm the aims, tactics and principles held
    by the IWA and to commit to strengthening and growing the

    The congress has approved the creation of workplace
    organizer training and strategy for workplace activities
    groups. It was also decided to organize promotional events
    throughout the world to facilitate the dissemination of our
    ideas and encourage workers to join our ranks.

    The congress also saw a number of new affiliations and,
    unfortunately, disaffiliations.

    The CNT, FAU and USI have been disaffiliated as a result of
    a conscious disregard for process, statutes and dues of the
    IWA. The divisive and destructive attempts by of the CNT’s
    Confederal Committee in complicity with FAU and USI is
    nothing more than an attack on the very principles, tactics
    and aims of the IWA and anarchosyndicalism.

    We denounce their attempts at appropriating the IWA’s name
    and creating a parallel organization to the IWA in the
    strongest terms possible.

    We recognize the conflict within the CNT. We received
    declarations of support addressed to the congress by about
    40 local unions from Spain (both current and former members
    of the CNT), and the congress was also attended by a number
    of observers from these and other unions who are concerned
    with developments within their organizations.

    We remain in solidarity with one another and welcome those
    who are organising and fighting against exploitation to join


  8. gata negra says:

    After the success of the Barakaldo International Conference: many thanks to all

    Dear comrades:

    CNT wants to thank all the delegates from the different organisations for attending and taking part in the Barakaldo International Conference. We’ve been lucky enough to have comrades from IWW from the USA and Canada, IWW from the UK and Ireland, FAU and IWW from Germany, IP from Poland, USI from Italy, ESE and Rocinante from Greece, CNT-GAP and CNT-Vignoles from France and FORA from Argentina, as well as receiving solidarity statements from the Sociedad Obrera from Paraguay, FOB from Brazil and CNT-STCPP from France.

    We are aware of the effort that you’ve made to be present at this Conference and we feel proud and honoured that you decided to join us in this event. The response to our invitation and the widespread interest that it has generated have been both humbling and extremely encouraging. We thank you all for that.

    We also want to thank the many comrades from CNT that have been involved in the organisation. No doubt your work has gone a long way to make the Conference a success.

    The words “historic event” have been pronounced more than once during the Conference. Time will tell if it is so. It is true, however, that not very often we have the privilege of having so many comrades together from so many different parts of the world. In our regard, this is especially important, at a time when the world at large seems to be heading in the opposite direction. The recent events on the global scene, from Brexit to the elections in the US, including the migratory restrictions that many European countries have put in place, draw a picture of increasing isolationism, foreign dislike and jingoist nationalism. Against this worrying developments, anarcho-syndicalists and revolutionary syndicalists from many parts of the world have decided to strengthen our commitment to solidarity and internationalism. The Barakaldo Conference is, undoubtfully, the beginning of a long process. But we can already be sure of its outcome: with your participation, we will build bridges where others want to erect walls and we’ll come together when others want us divided.

    Again, thanks to all of you.

    Miguel Perez for CNT

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