M1 alliances plan to 'capture the spirit of S11'

January 31, 2001


SYDNEY — Over 100 unionists, students and political activists packed into the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre here on January 25 for the second meeting of M1 Sydney. Although a large and politically diverse crowd, by the end of the meeting it was clear that the spirit of Seattle, Prague and Melbourne has found its way to Sydney and that the group's planned May 1 blockade of the city's financial district will be a major, unified mobilisation of almost the entire Sydney left.

While viewpoints differed, there was also considerable commitment from those present to find ways to work with each other. The group was able to reach agreement, for example, on a common structure. At M1 Sydney's last meeting, in November, some proposed a "spokescouncil" structure in which delegates from different "affinity groups" would share information about their autonomous actions rather than centrally plan a single event.

While the January 25 meeting encouraged activists to form "affinity groups" and organise actions of their own on May 1, it opted for a structure in which participation would remain open to all and in which the the fortnightly meetings would act as a meeting space in which overall plans and decisions for the M1 events could be made. M1 Sydney would thereby allow space for common and united activity, discussion and agreement between all the groups and individuals committed to M1.

The meeting began to set plans for the day itself: M1 Sydney will organise a blockade of the Australian Stock Exchange on May 1, starting at 7am. The alliance has also pledged to organise a midday convergence rally to bring together all groups organising actions, such as the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union which has said it wants to organise a blockade of its own on the morning of May 1.

M1 Sydney also resolved to back actions in the lead-up, including a rally during a February 12 senate hearing into Australia's relationship with the World Trade Organisation and a "corporate scumbags tour" of downtown Sydney on March 17.

The group has also established an e-group, (<M1_sydney@egroups.com>), agreed on an initial publicity poster and set up half a dozen working groups.

In Sydney's western suburbs, Owen Richards reports, supporters of the M1 blockade of corporate Sydney announced the formation of Sydney West M1 on January 23, which will aim to draw in as many as activists as possible in the area interested in the M1 project.

Sydney West M1 will especially focus on involving high school and university students in the planned May 1 strike. The alliance is planning to set up campus-based M1 clubs.

From Melbourne, Sarah Peart reports that activists have begun planning for a worker-student strike and blockade on May 1. The M1 Alliance meeting on January 24 adopted aims and objectives and pledged to build the new anti-corporate movement.

The alliance pledged to "support all calls for stop works, strike action, mass demonstrations and anti-corporate actions around the world, for students to walk off campus and out of school, and for all people to mobilise against corporate tyranny" for action on May 1; to "engage in discussions to build the broadest possible alliance for the mobilisation", on the basis of agreed upon issues and demands; and to "build an active and democratic united front with all progressive groups and individuals".

Its practical plans "project as a focus for the variety of actions on May 1 a blockade and anti-corporate festival starting at the stock exchange at 7.30am, and spreading to the surrounding city block that includes a variety of corporate targets such as BHP, Yallourn Energy, EPA, McDonald's and banks and insurance companies".

The M1 Alliance stated that it intends to build a worthy sequel to S11: "For this reason we are looking to an audacious action of civil disobedience that captures the spirit of S11 and the imagination of protesters ... M1 Alliance seeks to reclaim a part of Melbourne on May Day for working people that the corporate elites are used to regarding as their own"

The M1 Alliance will be formally launched on January 31, 7pm, at Trades Hall.

In Adelaide, Kathy Newnam reports, preparations are off and running for M1 Adelaide after the meeting of the co-ordinating group on February 25. The meeting involved activists from various community campaigns, the May Day committee and members of the Democratic Socialist Party.

The group made plans to gather further support for M1 from unions and community organisations and start publicity and media work. It also discussed joint work with Adelaide's International Women's Day collective, including a joint film screening of S11 films.

In Canberra, Stuart Munckton reports, the city's M1 Alliance met for the first time on January 25. The meeting was attended by members of the Democratic Socialist Party, Resistance, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Love and Rage, Workers' Liberty and other individuals.

Initial discussions on what to do on May 1 focussed on whether to organise an action in Canberra itself, a proposal backed by the ISO, or to travel to Sydney to join the much larger planned blockade of the stock exchange there, an option favoured by the DSP. A decision will be made at the next meeting.

[To get involved in your local M1 group, see details in the "Activist Calendar" on pages 27-28 or contact your local Resistance Centre, details on page 2.]

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