Friday, July 29, 2005

Polish Wildcat Strike In Dublin: Workers Refuse To Break Their Backs For Their Tesco Bosses

Two Polish workers who literally refused to break their backs for the boss in Tesco distribution have been fired. "Usually we pick 750 (boxes), but after three months of the normal rate our manager wants more, more, more . . . it's not possible picking 900. You must look after your back, and health and safety processes. If you pick 1,000 you'll break your back, you can not work like that." Work at first there seemed okay according to some of the Irish, but then Poland joined the EU and the company started to up the demands placed on workers in the centre as it started to hire Poles through a temp agency Grafton Recruitment.

The next time you're walking down Grafton Street keep an eye peeled for their poster. A young worker vaults over a pole - "Just how flexible do you want to be?" the poster asks - saying more about the insecurity of the modern work situation than any sociologist. "We have the interview every month and they say to us to pick up to 900 and a 1000. My manager told me I must pick up 130 cases an hour. It's ridiculous. The norm is 100. Anyway, there is no pick rate (anywhere else) in the whole country. After that he took in another guy and told him you must pick 140. Then another guy and he said to him 1100 a day. They say more, more more . . . you can not do that!" One of the fired blokes went into work one day wearing a T-shirt with the slogan 'no more than 900' on the front. Maybe this sparked the retribution from management?

The eight or so Polish workers standing in the rain start to look cheerful after a phone call. The fifty or so other workers in there have downed tools in solidarity with them. Every once in a while one of the drenched picketeers shouts across to security - "Today we strike!"

"In Tesco people were treated very badly. Used very much not as people but as a product. The target of work was increased all the time and there was no more pay for it, even when people worked harder than previously. Some of them do not agree with this situation and they will fight for the rights which they have." Later they tell me SIPTU organised a meeting on the shop floor. A phonecall from the union rep. advises them that their protest is illegal.

Eventually a group of three men, two in yellow bibs, emerges from the centre. Judging from the suit trousers and shoes peeking up at me from beneath the waterproofs, I assumed they were management. I eavesdrop. "This is an illegal protest lads, you have to follow the proper channels, there was work there for you but you didn't want it, you'll have your day in the labour court." Yeah - I'm sure they will, but as this bluffer for management that passes as a trade unionist heads back into the warmth the only thing I can think is that these two chaps will probably have gone through two more shit jobs by the time the labour court sides with the employer.

News of todays action bounced around a Polish anarchist list, made its way to Italy and eventually we in Dublin heard. In a bizarre internationalisation of struggle the media in Poland spent the day chasing after several solidarity demos there - "so our friends that were sacked from Tesco let them know via email and telephone and people from Squats in Warsaw and elsewhere protested as a solidarity act. There's a lot of people, and there is a lot of media. What's more the security in Tesco (in Poland) let people stay on the parking lot there. So I think to sum up, it will be in the press and media what is going down in Tesco across the World." Networks of punks, squatters and anarchists organised around the Rozbrat squat had picketed two Tescos in two Polish cities.

Walking up to this protest one thing was clear the summer has tucked its tails between its legs and hightailed, its wet and the down pour is miserable. There's maybe eight people in the distance, and there's no point trying to roll a smoke. one is holding up a soaked card board placard with the following demands - "1. Bukat and Sawicki must come back to work for Tesco distribution. 2. Contracts for agency staff after 3 month work for Tesco. 3. The 1,000 cases norm per day must be cancelled"

When they started working in Tesco, they were grateful for the 9.52 per hour, but after a while watching the Tesco system in operation they were forced to critically evaluate their role there. They find that Tesco will not give out contracts because it can get away with using and abusing agency workers. Then there are the agencies. They make money from their work, wringing them dry. In the middle, the workers usually foreigners with language difficulties, unaware of their rights and starved of work, take whatever is going.

Report originally published on

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In My Day We Used To Burn Out Cars

Out in this estate called Rosemount under the bridge in Dundrum, gangs of teenage blokes hang around, perched on the grass beside a bare concrete wall. At night they burn whatever they can find. A few months before they got this magnificent bon fire, leaving a piece of land scarred intensely with an almost slick plastic cover. Somehow and god knows how they managed to burn a bike.


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Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Dispossessed

The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionise interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous communication. It is the life work of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the arid anarchist world of Anarres. But Shevek's work is being stifled by jealous colleagues, so he travels to Anarres's sister-planet Urras, hoping to find more liberty and tolerance there while at the same time hoping that his visit will uproot entrenched attitudes on his home world and ensure the permanence of revolution as the organising principle of evolution there by availing of the choices offered in a society based on individual liberty.

The Dispossessed was one of those novels everyone had read it would seem - except me. Finding a copy on the bookshelf recently I tore into it with all the expectations I have for good sci-fi and came away a little peeved. The book is entralling in the same way that a good Star Trek episode is, the worlds it creates are remindful of the brief sketches worlds and their histories are given on Star Trek. You are given anecdotes and traces of cultures without any real solid background, the focus is on individuals rather than unleashing the massive potential that is there to explore the inter-realtions between various brief ideas. There is not enough reality in it to keep you enthralled. This isn't Neal Stephenson by any step of the imagination, its that genre of Sci-fi I always avoided. The themes and the questions raised were interesting, such as the emergence of personal fiefdoms amidst the world of academia where Shevek does hsi work, as was th staidness of iniative that seemed to develop amongst the anarchists so given were they to communality. But there was really just the tentherhooks of sympathy with the characthers to pull me through to the end. I thought this would be Ken McLeod type stuff, or even the inkling of a cyber punk future but no...I guess I'll have to look somewhere else.


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Away from The Box In The Burbs And Into The Dirty Old Town

As long as I've been living in ublin, I've been stuck in some sort of box in the burbs. At first it was the commuter nightmare of Terenure, with no sense of direction sharing a room with a stranger and nothing but vivid memories of sitting on the god awful infamous 17 for three hours a day. After that it was out to a rented squat in Churchtown, where we were isolated in a neighbourhood full of closed gates and electric buzzers. Then there was Dundrum, a taste of mortage hell in an estate that looked like it should be friendly but instead consited of a lot of grey old people in grey houses. Now for the liberties, minutes away from the centre of town and surrounded by shops that seem to have been cloned off Guineys. You go for a coffee and an old woman grins at you through filthy teeth, sharing a joke with you as you top up you coffee with some artificial cream from an aerosal can. What a relief.


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Particularly Well Oiled In The Local

I strolled into Finnegans, a Fianna Fail hub in Carlow town to meet my dad after a brief soiree on the inter-web. The owner is that classical small town species, owning everything from a funeral parlour, off licence and pub, while running the local GAA team and urban district council from the back rooms. Her husband dead, now Cis runs the show. Her sons are that typical breed, one was probably a local sports star of some merit, the other never made it further than pulling pints behind the counter while the black sheep had a youthful flurry in drug dealing and alcoholism, minor stuff really - pills and hash at the back end of the summer of love when rave hit Carlow. The black sheep now slopes behind the bar daily, his mother having him on a leash after a lucky escape from the judiciary. For the punters he’s a bit of a character and something to point their finger at as the ‘bauld lad’ turned good, a lovely chap who made a few mistakes but will give anyone the time of day. His mistake of course was he never made it out of Carlow, so his minor delinquency haunts like an Irish winter. Two pints were thrown down my throat in fifteen minutes, after one of the resident bar moles looked up and recognised me “without the hair.” He rambled incoherently for about half an hour, as I got more and more twisted on cider swallowed in gulps with an eye kept on the glass to time my visit. I’d worked with him in Minch Nortons five summers ago, shit the realisation strikes I am getting old. It was a long summer before college, with some tastes of what Carlow could be like as a home town…weekend visits to The Foundary getting screwed on over priced cider and avoiding far too many people from school, moving on to the dance floor for the monumental Mauro Picotto moments of the night where a small number of us would throw our arms in the air and wish to fuck we were some where else.

We were being ripped off, and we were ripping them off. For a month on the job, we played cards, when our only responsibility was to stick labels on bags. Copped on to this the boss put us out to clean out these vast storage units where grain had been stored for at least two centuries. Anytime his bespectacled face went out of view we immediately sat down on the job and skived, dumping dust masks across ditches and making our excuses to go up town and get more, more dust masks and more time to skive. We’d start work at 8am, fucking lines of tractors tailing the gate of the plant and me hopping up and down off every single one of them to take samples of corn. We were paid for an eight hour shift, but worked twelve hours a day. We didn’t know it but in the back ground the bar mole made the threat of the union, and ensured we got a whack of back pay at the end of the season, the equivalent of nearly a month and a half in wages. He was a skiver as well, any of us that worked nights were aware that he’d spent half his shift in the pub, while the other half he covered for us while we fucked off to a club.

A woman down the road knows a song here father wrote, the local equivalent of the digger song. Her home smells of cheap buns with chocolate on top, tiffin squares and triangular sandwiches, all the simple pleasures and a fire that never stops burnings. After the war of independence, her father and some local men squatted a piece of land up the road and started to plough it when in came Haney’s men, remnants of an aristocratic class than had lost nothing but their titles and beat them off it. Some were jailed and died there, but the memory in the area among a particular generation is very real. Passed down in an oral tradition of song whenever people get particularly well oiled in the local.


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Thursday, July 14, 2005

5 Days Off: Day 2

Duran Duran vs. Prince? This was a debate that kept us occupied in a chic bar off Leidseplein, and it was three to my one in favour of the filthy deviant. The three in question were Greek friends of mine who would be accompanying me to the Melkweg that night. This bar is typical of the bars I visit when in Vangelis’ company; cosmopolitan and expensive with a beautiful and stylish female clientele. A million miles from Padraig Pearse’s GAA Clubhouse in Ballinasloe.

We left the bar around 12.20 to catch Mouse on Mars as they arrived on stage. The Melkweg is divided into two rooms and Mouse on Mars were to play in the smaller room. This room was impressively laid out, with TV’s stacked on top of each other in the middle of the dance floor and to the sides, beaming out a range of electronic images, numbers and static appropriate for Mouse on Mars’ warm electronics and experimentations. They were greeted with a warm welcome when they came on stage, and they didn’t disappoint, unleashing a wall of noise with a funky groove. They looked busy on stage and a lot their set sounded like improv. However, during the set there was a steady stream of people leaving for the next room, despite the excellent set and this definitely affected the ambience. I don’t know what they were expecting, but if it was tacky, gay Italo disco then they came to the wrong place. Fucking posers. Mouse on Mars left the stage to rapturous applause from a depleted crowd. They really deserved so much better.

Then we stuck around to listen (Mad) Ed who was dj’ing in between acts to keep things flowing. He crossed genres and I really liked his mixing, though Vangelis said he didn’t like it and that he could do sooooo much better. This is typical of the arrogant wank stain. Vangelis is a slick mo’fucker but with the fashion sense of Don Johnson, which says it all really. But we’re pretty tight.

Then thanks to the tyranny of the majority, we waited to watch Jamie Liddell do his ‘thang’. The tosser had a camera erected right in front of his face so we could see close-ups of him on the giant screen behind. For the first track he had Mocky, who is kinda his bastard child, playing bass beside him. How derivative, we all taught. Squarepusher? Anyway, my mama told me that cynicism is an ugly human trait so I’ll refrain from ranting any further. Needless to say though, we didn’t stick around for the end of his set because Mu were about to start in the big room!

Bloody ‘ell, what can I say about this lot? Unbridled smudge-mascara disco with a punk-rock energy! There was no DJ’s or musicians on stage, just an incredibly sexy Japanese girl with freaked-out vocals, wearing a ballerina tutu and a basque, attempting cartwheels and other gymnastic manoeuvres and failing miserably. And yeah, the music was pretty damn awesome too. Then Tiga came on to close the night, playing his usual standard of dance floor bombers. I was expecting a variety of styles, but it was pretty much straight techno all the way. Not that I was complaining, but the tiredness was wearing me down for the last hour so I didn’t exert my arms that much (clubs don’t close down ‘till five over here, so I’m not a sissy). It was a great night, but fuck I hate the passive Dutch clubbers/posers.

Tonight then, I expect, is going to the highlight of my festival. Seeing one of your favourite acts, Autechre, playing a rare live set on the night of your birthday is pretty fucking special. That’s right folks, at the turn of midnight tonight, I’ll be the big 2 2. What would make the night even more special would be to receive 22 kisses from 22 beautiful women. Fuck yeah! And I’m also particularly excited about hopping to the infectious grooves of the legendary Luke Vibert aka. Wagon Christ, Amen Andrews, Kerrier District, Plug. Among others. And there’s more. Rotterdam based Speedy J will be playing music in the Surround Sound 5.1 format. 5.1 is a format consisting of a 5-speaker alignment around the listener and a sub-woofer for bass sound effects. Mainly used for home cinema use to make the cinematic experience more spatial and realistic. This will be a nice appetiser for the 5 hour Chris Liebing and Speedy J Collabs Session taking place on Sunday. Also playing in 5.1 format this evening will be Richard Devine, a master of digital sculpture. I saw this guy at the last Warp night in Amsterdam and was very impressed. Christian Vogel will also be playing his brand of hard-hitting beats.

Anyway, I’m wrecked after 4 hours sleep but am very excited about tonight. It may not be until Saturday before I post again, depending on my condition tomorrow. Doei!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Two Story Object Leering At Me

I heard someone enter into an overly analytical take on bike aggression lately. With a late 1990's upsurge in Critical Mass and Reclaim the Streets style politics, there developed an increased sense of aggression towards other vehicles on the road. We as cyclists had politicised our right to be on the road at actions and elements of this mentality had carried over to our daily cycling. I am a victim of this road wage. Cycling through the city like a maniac, trasversing traffic paths and breaking lights left, right and centre to a varying soundtracks of aggressive music. Yesterday I ampled along, blissed in the splintering mid afternoon sun, peering at tourists around Christchurch and lost in thought to Boards of Canada, when all of a sudden I was less than 5 metres from one of these beasts bearing down on me. Across the road there was an aghast look of horror on the face of an Italian tourist who was waiting for my neck to be snapped by the swerving bus. I peddled like a fucker and leapt awkardly on to the path, to the noise of motorists banging their horns and dashed quickly down Dame Street away from my Embarassment.


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5 Days Off: A Technolicious Feast

‘Tis a bright and sunny afternoon over here in Amsterdam, and I’m like a schoolgirl front-row at a Westlife concert, giddy with anticipation for tonight’s launch of 5 Days Off, a veritable technolicious feast of a very diverse group of DJs and Musicians from all over the Globe.

5 Days Off is the brainchild of Maurice Spijker, a dj, booker and promoter based in Utrecht. The format is based on the 10 Days Off concept that takes place simultaneously across the border in Ghent. The 5 Days Off festival is celebrating its fifth birthday this year, with visitors numbering approximately 5,000 in the first and more than 12,000 in 2004. This year will be the biggest yet, with the Heineken Music Hall added as a venue alongside the Melkweg and Paradiso. The Heineken Music Hall, one of Amsterdam’s biggest venues, will host electronic music giants Underworld on closing night. In addition, Spijker and the organisers have also added an exhibition in Montevideo/Time Based Arts in co-operation with the Nederlands Instituut Voor Mediakunst. All events take place indoors, which deeply satisfies my bourgeois sensibilities: cool beer instead of warm carbonated piss; clean, sparkling toilet bowls instead of putrid, shit swims; and 10 hours sleep in your own comfy bed instead of an insomnia nightmare in a half inch of water in a crammed tent.

According to Spijker, the festival’s main strong point is their refusal to book the Beatles and Stones of dance music, instead embracing more difficult, fresh artists. Its all about the underground baby. In an interview, he is quoted as saying, “The past has thought has thought us that if our line-up is too mainstream, the punters stay away. Johann Cruijff is right when he says ‘every advantage has its disadvantages’. The Underwater night hosted by former Underworld member Darren Emerson, two years ago at Melkweg, was a total disaster. There were far too few visitors”. Being far too kind to Emerson, he neglects to mention how he’s become a wasted, talentless fuck more interested in marketing himself as a ‘superstar dj’ than producing fine music. Me thinks that’s the reason why dance revellers shunned Emerson, Tim Deluxe and the other cheddar from the Underwater label. Fortunately Underworld are an exception to this underground rule.

Amongst the pioneers and proponents of beats and groove descending on Amsterdam this weekend are Mouse on Mars, Tiga, DJ Hell, Luke Vibert, LCD Soundsystem, Richie Hawtin, Gilles Peterson, Vitalic, Miss Kittin, The Hacker, Fischerspooner, Dexter, Chris Liebing, Speedy J and godfather of all things minimal, Michael Mayer. But the pieces de resistance for me has to be Autechre, headlining the Warp night on Thursday night, and 5 Days Off are one of only three festivals (the others are Roskilde and Glastonbury) that have them in their line-up this summer. All in all, this is the best line-up for ANY music festival I have ever attended.

But tonight I will be heading to the Melkweg, where Tiga, Jamie Lidell, Mu, Mouse on Mars and others will be playing across two rooms. Personally, tonight is all about Mouse on Mars, one of the first acts who turned me on to avant-garde electronics. Their 2001 album Idiology, containing the classic track ‘Actionist Respoke’, which was regularly played on No Disco, hooked me on to a genre that would lead me to later discover the likes of Aphex Twin, Plaid, Mu-Ziq and of course, Autechre. Mouse on Mars, aka Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma, are guaranteed to deliver a blinding set full of experimental beats and mad samples. And then we have Mr. Lidell, a grossly overrated white boy who reckons he’s Prince. Yeah, play that music whiteboy! I saw him during the Amsterdam Dance Event last year and he literally bored the punters into a coma. Since Dan is fighting the bad guys in Colombia, I’m going to pull out of my promise to bottle him of stage. It wouldn’t be the same without ya Dan!

I’m also looking forward to Tiga, who made a very favourable impression on me when I saw him play at Witnness (that’s with two n’s….corporate fuckspuds) a few years back. Hard to categorise, he’s sure to serve techno, electro, breaks, hip-hop and rock all on the same platter. And Mu should be interesting, if their cult single ‘Paris Hilton’ is anything to go by. These Japanese artists sample Japanese girls making chicken noises over raw electro-disco, whilst their video of that same song features those same girls carrying voodoo dolls of Paris Hilton against a psychedelic backdrop. Very subversive and very punk. Whatever drugs these guys are on, I want 'em too. And speaking of drugs, DJ Hell is also playing tonight but in Paradiso.

So stay tuned kids, as I post daily previews and reviews of this sick five day event.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Ge Wa Ou Tha Ya Muckin Bongoloid"


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hairy Mollies Express Their Solidarity With Bogoni At The G8

As usual the Irish barrio is acting as some predicatable social hub for anyone who likes staying up staring in to a fire and having intense conversations. It was 3am last night, we were still up and there came a panic an alarm that the police were entering the site. Rumour mill churning this was njo occupation, but rather two bobbies on the beat.

So with sleep supergluing our eyes together we got up before seven and shuffled over to the embers of the fire, before heading off on an over flowing fifity seater into the city to picket the consulate in solidarity with the Rossport Five. In an interview not a so long ago Philip McGrath referred to some of those at the solidarity gathering as 'Hairy mollies' this morning the hairy mollies struggled with hangovers and the paranoia of constant repetitious meetings and the tailing of the bus by cops to carry out what has so far been the most enjoyable action here yet.

Amidst a week of protest against the G8 Summit in Gleneagles international protesters today directed their anger at the jailing of five west Mayo men for their opposition to a Shell gas line in their area. Early this morning fifty protesters assembled outside the Sterling convergence site and were bussed into the Irish Consulate in Edinburgh city centre.

Protesters picketed the consulate in an expression of solidarity with the jailed farmers. There was drums, music, dancing and people dressed as clowns. Large banners had the names of the five imprisoned men and “Rossport Five Jailed in the names of Shell, Statoil and Marathon, Go neiri an bothar leat”, others had the skull and crossbones and Shell signs.

An Irish participant from Dublin Aidan Regan said: “These Erris residents have raised a very legitimate complaint about the nature of this unprecedented pipeline, they are concerned with the long term safety and health of their community and family. In contrast Shell’s interest and commitment ends totally once the gas has been cleaned and re-pressurised for delivery at Bellanaboy. Those from the Irish campsite at the G8 have raised the profile of the Shell to Sea campaign through talking to people from other countries. Today’s action is a simple first step towards an internationalisation of opposition to the jailings.”

There were about five cops at the consulate when we got there, guarded like every other building on the street contrary to some peoples paranoia. We danced as a fiddle, drums and guitar emerged. while clowns subverted the power of the cops others handed out hundreds of leafletts to passers - by. The police when they move in move in en masse, moving people off the steps and back on to the streets.

A jackeen clown described how 'its going fantastic, we have lots of people here from all different place, we have all difffernt types, we have a man playing the violin, which is lovely, and then nine vans of police show up to join in! I mean thats very important because on on these types of demonstrations numbers are very important, so its very good of them to come along they've even moved all of us off the steps and have taken up the blockade themselves which is fantastic and very nice of them. I'm very happy to see them here, but apart from that numbers are very important and its nice of them to show up especially in their nice uniforms, the yellow ones its good to have colour at these things as well.'

Enda Duffy, a participant over from UCD said ' basically I'm here to in solidarity with the foru peopel that have been imprisoned illegally by the Irish state because because they woudn't allow a pirvate company basically an unethical company to come on to their land and what they had left of their farms. Its a disgrace whats been doen to these people, its just a disgrace the irish state has once again let the people its meant to represent down.'

Eoin his brother described how 'basically we were just sitting on the steps peacefully, the cops have just come out and basically there was a van each per person so theres a big line of cops on the steps and we are peacefully protesting.'

Another described how 'Out of no where we hear the sirens, and then one riot van, two, three, four, five, six and there was nearly one riot van per person which is quite ironic really as it was intimidation tactics and we have to remember we have a right to be here and we will not allow these people to intimidate us.'

Original report and set of photos uploaded to

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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