Documents from the Samara strike committee

 

[A Few Words from the Translator. Samara (Kuibyshev in the USSR) has a population of 1 million people and a long revolutionary tradition. It has a large concentration of heavy industry which, as elsewhere in Russia, has been devastated by capitalist restoration. ZIM (Zavod imeni Maslennikova) presently has 5,000 workers who have not been paid their wages for a year.

ZIM is a military-industrial plant which still belongs to the state. As most of such enterprises, ZIM has been left without state orders and subject to plunder by its administration and the authorities of all levels whose usual tactics comes to the following. First, an enterprise is stripped of all its assets. Its real estate and all kind of facilities are rented out for a nominal price to the relatives or friends of the administration. If the workers of an enterprise have some shares they are compelled to sell them to the front people of the administration or/and outside gangsters, since they are not paid their wages and starve.

Then administration drives the enterprise to bankruptcy, the state puts it to auction, and the local gang buys it for small change. With workers now out, they are free to do with the enterprise, often unique and having priceless equipment, whatever they want. Often they would just sell it to a private bank and settle on a nice piece of real estate in Switzerland or Florida., leaving behind hundreds of thousands of Russian workers to starvation, lumpenization, and death.

Why it was ZIM, among so many enterprises in similar predicament, to have risen in organized action? I believe it was because of the long revolutionary tradition of the Samara proletariat and because of the small group of the revolutionary workers led by Isayev and Kotel'nikov who can be called some of the few professional revolutionaries in contemporary Russia. I know that Isayev was arrested in 1981 for organizing a strike and was given a 6-year prison term for that. Together with Kotel'nikov, he leads the Party of the Proletarian Dictatorship based on some sort of vernacular Marxist tradition, transmitted by A. Razlatsky, the now deceased founder of the PDP. According to the Party statues, its members from the intelligentsia have only the right of consultative vote.

The protests began on Feb 3 when the ZiM workers blocked the central avenue of the city. They sent then a delegation to the nearby meeting of the so-called Trilateral Commission--the bosses, the city administration, and the "yellow" official unions--which was discussing the terms of a new "production" agreement. The workers found cold reception there. During the following two months they continued to block the avenue every day. They also threw from the factory their director and its coterie who are now under criminal investigation for the embezzlement of the plant's assets. To obstruct the investigation, the "gang" inside the plant burnt down the bookkeeping office. The police twice arrested the leaders of the strike but every time they were released under the workers' pressure. Among other actions, the workers took the vice-directors and the plant's union boss hostages.

Isayev writes that now they are working on organizing a city-wide meeting to "overthrow the regional governor." He also mentions that the Committee badly needs a RIZOGRAPH A-4 monochrome (apparently, some sort of printing device) which is sold in Samara for $3,300. They don't have such money and are looking for donations. They also ask to disseminate their email address (stachkom@transit.samara.ru) as wide as possible, and they ask for email addresses of papers, radio, and TV stations where they could send info about their struggle. They are also asking for help in displaying the web page of their Committee free of charge].