Cleaners and security guards: updates from London’s grassroots union struggles

Two quick updates from the capital’s grassroots union efforts: an IWGB member and striking University of London security guard has written a good introduction to their dispute, while over at the LSE, cleaners organised through the UVW have voted for weekly strikes on an indefinite basis until they win their demand for equal treatment. You can donate to the IWGB/University of London security guards’ strike fund here, and to the UVW/LSE cleaners’ strike fund here. With May Day coming up, it might be worth doing a quick collection for one or both of their strike funds at any local trades council-type rallies that might be happening in your town.

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Picket lines and court dates – pre-May Day round-up

On Monday 24th, the Jobstown trials against Irish water protestors will begin. It looks like the SP/NSSN are organising a solidarity protest outside the Irish Embassy in London on the first day of the trial on Monday April 24th at 2pm – 7 Grosvenor Pl, Belgravia SW1X 7HR, but that they’ve not put a huge amount of effort into publicising it. It’s also worth keeping an eye on this group to find out about other, less high-profile court cases against Irish water protestors.

Monday 24th will also see the first day of strike action over jobs, pay, pensions and union recognition at Fujitsu, with pickets planned for sites at Blackpool, Basingstoke, Birmingham, Bracknell, Crewe, Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Stevenage, Wakefield, and Warrington. The Fujitsu strikers are also asking supporters in London to join them in embarrassing the company at “Responsible Business Week” that afternoon. They’ll also be out on the 27th-28th.

On Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th, University of London security staff organised through the grassroots IWGB union will be walking out to demand an end to zero-hour contracts, proper itemised payslips, and a 25% increase in pay for all security officers. Amazingly, the company tried to bring in strikebreaking replacement staff, but they also ended up joining the union and agreeing to strike after talking things over. Hopefully those two days should keep up the tradition of recent lively pickets organised by grassroots unions in London. In Leeds, the 25th will also see a discussion on workplace organising in sectors like retail and logistics, hosted by Plan C.

On Wednesday 26th, the RMT are calling a protest in central London in support of the long-running Driver-Only Operation dispute. Up in Glasgow, school janitors fighting against cuts will be holding a public protest before taking several days of strike action.

On the 27th, Bristol Hazards Group will be hosting a talk about blacklisting and spycops as part of the commemorations for International Workers’ Memorial Day on the 28th. To see if there’s an IWMD event in your area, check here and here. The 28th will also see another rail strike on Arriva Trains North and Virgin East Coast.

After that, of course, it’s the May Day weekend, with stuff happening all over the country – things I’m aware of include the Cambridge Radical Bookfair, the Barnsley Festival of Solidarity, a Bradford IWW social, Brighton’s “precarious Mayday” event, and a big “Educate, Agitate, Organise” event at Leeds Beckett Uni.

Beyond that, further into May there’ll be an AWL-hosted discussion event on “New Unionism” in London on Saturday 6th, with contributions from a number of the grassroots unions currently active in the capital, a mobilisation against the fascist South East Alliance in Croydon that same day, a national demo against Yarl’s Wood detention centre on May 13th, and BMW workers striking on a number of days throughout the month over pensions.


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US prison struggles: ongoing hunger strikes in Riverside County, CA, and Wisconsin

Two calls for support from the continuing revolt inside the US’ prisons and jails:

In Riverside County, California, detainees at the Robert Presley Jail have been on hunger strike since April 13th, and are reporting that the administration is retaliating against them by limiting their access to phones and visits from outside. For a full list of their demands, see here.

They’re asking that messages in support of their action are passed on to

-First District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries: (951) 955-1010
-Second District Supervisor John Tavaglione: (951) 955-1020
-Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington (951) 955-1030
-Fourth District Acting Supervisor and Fifth District Supervisor Marion Ashley:(951) 955-1050
Online contact via this form:

(951) 955-2400 Press Option 4
Email or via this form:

(951) 955-4500 Press Option 1 then Option 8

Sample script:

I am contacting you in support of the hunger strikers at Robert Presley Jail. Their demands and core issues are legitimate. I am asking you to please make serious efforts to address their concerns, and to ensure that the hunger strikers are not retaliated against in any way. Thank you.”

Up in Wisconsin, 25o prisoners have been held in solitary confinement since the Kinross uprising on September 9th last year. Most of them have now been given dates for release back into general population, but HH Gonzales, who helped negotiate a peaceful resolution to the situation last September, is still being held in solitary indefinitely, with no release date.

UPDATE: After seven months with no misconduct tickets, he has recently received false tickets in order to justify keeping him in solitary confinement indefinitely. He has spoken of launching a hunger strike, but at the present time it’s not completely clear what the situation is. At the moment, it looks like there’s not a current call to contact the prison, but people are still being asked to support him by sending letters and cards to

Harold Hadley Gonzales #194496
Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility
13924 Wadaga Rd.
Baraga, MI 49908-9204

As a reminder of the general guidelines suggested by IWOC:

DO NOT mention Sep 9, organizing, the strike, burning prisons, or anything like that unless they reply and ask for such information. Just receiving mail at all sends a message of support. These messages are also seen by the staff which deters further retaliation. Talking about the actions might get the mail blocked or even provoke more repression, so don’t do it.

DO tell them you’re thinking about them, that they are not alone. It can be a short note, a drawing, or a long letter describing your day and asking how they’re holding up.

Finally, although the majority of the former Kinross prisoners have now been given a release date, from last September until some point in the future is still a very very long time to spend in solitary confinement, locked in the same room 24 hours a day. There are a lot of these people who’ve agreed to have their details listed publicly, and I appreciate that it’s a dauntingly long list, but even if you can just pick out one or two names to send a quick message of support and solidarity, it might make a lot of difference to someone who’s in total isolation otherwise. The current list is:

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Voting, abstaining, and opposing the tories: a quick reminder

As things stand, I really can’t blame anyone for wanting to take a punt on Corbynism in the upcoming election. It’s not what I believe in; I can’t see how social democracy in one country could be workable, and I still believe that the only thing that’ll get us out of the mess we’re in would be ungovernable mass working-class movements. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses I walk past every day would tell you the same thing about Jesus, and in the UK in 2017 I recognise that my hopes don’t really look all that more plausible than theirs. So, in the absence of anything better, I can totally understand why people might want to vote to oppose the tories.

As a quick aside, I understand the Lib Dems are currently posing as the real alternative who can be trusted to oppose May’s Brexit plans all the way. I find it hard to imagine that anyone could be gullible enough to fall for that, and if they are, they’re unlikely to be looking for advice from obscure anarchist bloggers, but if anyone is: for god’s sake, sort yourself out.

Anyway, back to Labour: I can respect the reasons why people might want to vote for Corbynism as an alternative project, but the way the electoral system is set up means that, if you don’t live in Islington North, you’re not going to be able to vote for Corbyn. Across vast sections of the country, the closest thing we can do is to vote for some red-tied snake who’s committed to doing everything they can to sabotage the Corbyn project, which seems like a funny way of supporting him.

Only you can decide whether you’re going to bother voting or not, and I don’t know how likely my thoughts are to sway anyone else; but for what it’s worth, I just want to remind readers of two prime examples of what the Parliamentary Labour Party’s record of opposing the tories looks like in practice.

The first is from 2013, when benefits claimants who’d been pressured into unpaid work schemes managed to win a court case, meaning that the benefit sanctions used to punish people who refused to participate were ruled unlawful, and it briefly looked like the government might have to pay a lot of compensation to claimants who’d been sanctioned for refusing to work for free, before the government got around it by changing the law to retrospectively make their actions legal. The majority of Labour MPs chose to abstain on the question of whether the tories should be able to rewrite the law to get out of their obligations to people they’d bullied for refusing to work for free.

The second is the Welfare Reform Bill of 2015, which cut child tax credits, lowered the disability benefit ESA from £103 to £73 a week, introduced the benefits cap and abandoned the goal of ending child poverty. The majority of Labour MPs also chose to abstain on that vote.

So, in this coming election, do whatever you think is best; but, as the sayings go, turnabout is fair play, and what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If your local MP is among those who, when given a chance to do something to help claimants, chose to sit on their hands, I think it’s entirely fair enough to do the same in response when they come begging for you to help them keep their cushy jobs. It certainly seems more sensible than hoping that they’ll suddenly change their ways next time round.

In the interests of historical memory, here are the Labour MPs who abstained on the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill in 2013:

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Posted in Disability, Labour, Stuff that I don't think is very useful, Unemployment/claimants and welfare | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Orgreave justice – upcoming events in Leigh, Barnsley, Mansfield, Chesterfield and Sheffield

The Orgreave Justice campaign and their supporters have a number of upcoming events, mainly in the old mining areas:

On Friday 21st, at the Miners’ Welfare Institute in Leigh, just outside Wigan, there’s a fundraiser for the campaign, including a film screening, campaign update and light supper.

Over the May Day weekend, Orgreave campaigners will be putting in appearances at a number of events – the Barnsley Festival of Solidarity, the Mansfield May Day rally and the Chesterfield People’s Gala.

Further ahead, on Saturday 17th June, there’ll be a rally marking the anniversary of the battle itself, meeting at Orgreave Lane.

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No more deaths at work: Crossrail memorial vigil, Southwark Crown Court, 10 May

There’s an ongoing court case over the death of construction worker Rene Tka’cik, and the injuries caused to two others, by three companies working on the Crossrail project: BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Ltd, and Keir Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd. The first court date was last week, and was accompanied by a vigil remembering Rene and demanding a end to deaths caused by employer negligence; the next date will be at Southwark Crown Court on the 10th of May, with construction workers, bereaved families and others having a presence outside from 10am onwards.

Between now and May 10th, there’s another important event commemorating and opposing deaths at work: International Workers Memorial Day on April 28th. To find out if there’s anything happening in your area, try checking this list or this one (the two lists don’t quite match up, and neither of them seem to include the Bristol Hazards Group event, which looks really worthwhile). For IWMD resources, contact the Hazards campaign at 0161 636 7557 or

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Interview with antifascist attacked in Berkeley

There’s a lot going on at the moment, and it’s hard to keep up. I don’t have any particular comments to add on the events of the last few days myself, but I want to recommend this short(ish – just over half an hour) interview with Louise Rosealma, the Californian antifascist comrade who became an alt-right meme/hate figure after being punched by a fascist at the weekend. It’s a hell of an experience to go through, and the way they’re handling it is an inspiration, so the interview is definitely worth hearing and sharing as a chance to listen to the actual voice and person behind the media image.

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