Class struggle events listing, Nov 18-25th:

A shortish listing of upcoming events over the next week:

On Monday November 18th, health visitors in Lincolnshire will start a four-week long strike, running into the middle of December, against new attacks on their pay contracts from the council. That day also sees the start of a new round of strikes by Bradford library and museum staff fighting against cuts to services there.

On Tuesday 19th, outsourced staff at University College London who’ve organised through the grassroots IWGB union are out on strike demanding equal treatment with directly employed staff. You can donate to their strike fund here. The same day will also see RMT members on Virgin West Coast walk out on a one-day strike in defence of a victimised member. And that evening, Plan C London are hosting an event, “There’s the Plan for Plan C”, where anyone interested can hear about their involvement in the Kurdistan Solidarity, Acid Communism, antifascist, feminist and climate struggle movements.

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On Wednesday 20th, thirty sixth form colleges will be taking action over pay, conditions and job security. The RMT are also holding a morning “save London Overground ticket offices” demo that day.

It’s a bit hard to find much about it online, but there’s meant to be a demo the same day against the ongoing efforts by construction companies trying to keep unions off the HS2 project:

Demonstration at the HS2 site, against Costain Skanska Joint Venture’s refusal to allow access to Unite –
Venue; CSJV site entrance, Corner of Euston Rd and Melton Street  WC1 0BE
Nearest tube station: Euston
Date: Wednesday 20th November
Time: 11:30 – 13:30

And that evening, Leicester Anarchist Communist Group have a “what is anarchist communism?” meeting, and ACORN Birmingham have a member defence training for people looking to build their organising skills.

On Thursday 21st, staff at Moulsecoomb Primary School in Brighton are striking against a planned takeover that would turn their school into an academy, and workers at Coventry University will be striking against an unpopular staff appraisal system.

On Friday 22nd, the CWU are calling for a national gate meeting day where postal workers across the country can discuss their response to the recent High Court ruling and how to take their struggle forward. On Saturday 23rd, RMT members on West Midlands Trains will be striking in defence of the guard’s role and against driver-only operation. And looking a bit further ahead still, next week sees the start of another round of strike action by low-paid staff at St Mary’s Hospital, as well as a big strike over pay and pensions at 60 universities across the country… hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more on that, and other future events, soon, but I’ll round this off here in the interests of getting it posted.

Posted in Anarchists, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quick mid-November round-up of radical and workplace news

Your semi-regular-ish round-up of workplace goings-on and other stuff that might be of interest:

The Angry Workers of the World have just compiled their “system series” into a single pamphlet, which looks like a decent accessible introduction to what capitalism is and how we might think about being able to get rid of it. On a similar note, the Anarchist Communist Group have just put out the first issue of their new journal Virus, and also have a range of new stickers in case you can think of anything in your area that could use a bit of redecoration. And Past Tense are producing a new 2020 London radical history calendar for anyone who’s into that kind of thing.

In antifascist news, Football Lads & Lasses Against Fascism are having a whip-round for two people who were fined a few hundred pounds after a court case connected to events in Bootle during Tommy Robinson’s European election campaign, so you can chuck them a few quid via Paypal to: footballagainstfascism@gmail.com if you feel able to help out with that.

Workplace stuff without a specific date attached:

As you may have seen, the courts have just ruled against post workers’ union the CWU and in favour of Royal Mail bosses’ attempt to ban the upcoming post strike. It’s hard to say what’ll come next, but if you want to keep informed about what looks set to be a pretty bitter dispute, you can sign up to their supporters’ network here (although I’ve not really heard much from them since first signing up).

Similarly nasty moves have come from Asda management, who’re using the threat of mass sackings to force workers to sign up to unpopular new contracts. There’s a fair bit of talk about proposed consumer boycotts in response to the move, but I’ve not seen anything much about actual co-ordinated resistance within the workplace. You can keep an eye on #contract6 to see what people are saying about it, and #reinstatemickey to keep up with the case of Mickey Hunnam, a shop steward sacked by Asda with the apparent complicity of GMB officials.

Low-paid kitchen staff at 5 Hertford Street, a posh London private members’ club, have returned a 100% vote for strike action after organising through the grassroots union IWGB to demand sick pay and a living wage. There doesn’t seem to be a specific date set yet, but you can donate to their strike fund here.

As part of their ongoing campaigning for rail cleaners to be paid a living wage, the RMT recently held a “Justice for Merseyside cleaners” protest outside Merseyrail HQ, with more similar actions likely to come soon.

A few things that were upcoming dates when I started compiling this round-up but are now past are the strike by cleaners at Highgate Wood School demanding a living wage and sick pay, the strike across six South London McDonald’s, and round two of the strike by outsourced cleaners at St Mary’s Hospital who’ve organised through the United Voices of the World union to demand NHS wages and conditions.

There’s a whole lot of stuff coming up, and I’ll try to pull a fuller guide together soon, but I’ll stick to a quick listing of upcoming events in the next few days for the sake of getting this out now before I delay it any further and miss even more:

On Friday 15th November, there’s a call for actions against blacklisting construction company Kier to pressure them into pulling out of the contract to build a new megaprison. So far the only location where anything’s definitely confirmed to be happening is in central London.

On Saturday 16th, there’s a big conference on undercover policing, blacklisting and the trade unions, jointly hosted by the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, Police Spies Out Of Lives and the Blacklist Support Group, or for anyone around South Essex there’s a protest against local NHS cuts. And in the West Midlands, the RMT are calling regular Saturday strikes in defence of the role of train guards and against driver-only operation on West Midlands Trains.

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On Sunday 17th, the London TEFL Workers’ Union, a branch of the IWW, are hosting a showing of the film Pride, along with a short Q&A with someone who was involved with Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners at the time. Entry is free, and all money spent at the bar will go to striking English Language teachers in Dublin, who will also be giving a short explanation of their situation.

Posted in Anarchists, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

To Kill the Truth: exactly how thick and cynical is Jonathan Freedland?

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About two years ago, responding to the controversies around the London Anarchist Bookfair in late 2017, I mentioned my worry that people throwing around unsubstantiated charges of antisemitism could lead to a “boy who cried wolf” effect that would undermine the social taboo that currently makes antisemitism politically toxic. The two years since then… they have really, really not been good ones as far as people casually doing that exact thing have been concerned.

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This week, the Guardian commentator Jonathan Freedland publicly accused Majid Mahmood, a Birmingham Labour councillor, of making antisemitic comments, a claim that was picked up and amplified by the Guardian liveblog. Except that, as it turned out, the Majid Mahmood who’d made the antisemitic comments was a totally different bloke living in a different city, meaning that Freedland had just made a high-profile and very serious claim that turned out to be totally false.

And, of course, in the comments of the post where I found out about this, there was someone making genuinely antisemitic comments in reaction. Of course there was. It’s worth taking a moment to think about this: for those who actually do hate Jews, and for their allies who don’t think there’s a problem, nothing suits them better than for clowns like Freedland to go around coming out with easily refuted untruths.

Freedland has just handed a big win to everyone who wants to make the argument that there is no problem at all with antisemitism on the left and the whole thing is one big smear campaign. For those of us who actually want to fight racism in all forms, this kind of shit makes life much harder. I want my antisemitism radar to work properly, and normally people talking about an “antisemitism smear campaign” is the sort of thing that would set it off, but the difficulty is that it’s also a completely accurate description of behaviour like Freedland’s.

Undeterred by the fact that he’d just given direct aid and comfort to Jew-haters, the next day he was back at it again, churning out another column which didn’t contain any kind of an apology or acknowledgement of how badly he’d fucked up, but did contain the astonishing claim that “Britain’s Jews… for the first time in their history, have concluded that someone hostile to them is on the brink of taking democratic power”. This is frankly astounding stuff, as if no antisemitic politician had played a major role in British political life prior to 2015. As if, when the Balfour goverment brought in the anti-Jewish Aliens Act in 1905, British Jews were going “this is fine, as far as we can tell this government seems pretty keen on us.” As if the Home Secretary William Joynson-Hicks was a fan of Jews.

But there’s the thing, isn’t it? The Balfour government that brought in legislation against Jewish immigrants was a Conservative government, and Joynson-Hicks, described by the Jewish Chronicle as “the most avowed and determined anti-Semite in the House”, was a Conservative politician. And so these people become unmentionable in the worldview of someone like Freedland, who seems to believe that to be on the left is to be antisemitic and to be antisemitic is to be on the left.

Into the memory hole it goes, along with the polling that found out that Labour supporters were less likely than average to agree with antisemitic statements, but Conservative supporters were more likely than average. Along with the antisemitic pamphlets sold at a Conservative party conference fringe event last year. Along with Rees-Mogg’s dogwhistling about the illuminati, and Priti Patel’s about North London elites, and Suella Braverman’s about cultural Marxists, and Crispin Blunt’s claims that Jews want “special status”. Along with Boris Johnson’s editorship of a racist rag that published antisemitic comments by Taki so vile that even Conrad Black denounced them.

I’m not going to vote Labour, and I don’t encourage you to: I’m in favour of working-class self-organisation, and while that often means I end up on the same side as grassroots Labour members, it equally often means that I end up on the opposite side to Labour councils and politicians. I’m not writing this because I want to encourage support for Labour, but because I care about racism and antisemitism, and because the line pushed by those like Freedland, that antisemitism is somehow a uniquely Labour phenomenon, is such a bizarre and damaging one.

The thing that bothers me about Freedland and all those like him, everyone going along with the claim, whether implicit or explicit, that if you care about Jews then you should support Boris Johnson – who is, just to repeat, a man who ran a publication employing a Jew-hating, nazi-sympathising columnist – is: how far are they genuinely this thick, and how far are they just cynical? What is it that makes them so willing to go along with a campaign intended to secure the victory of the more antisemitic party? Surely Freedland must have the basic intelligence to understand that his actions this week have been helpful and encouraging to antisemites, so is this not something he feels any shame over?

Meanwhile, of course, nazis have been plotting to bomb synagogues and circulating documents like the “Manual for practical and sensible guerrilla warfare against kike system in the Durham city area”. But hey, that can’t be directly blamed on Jeremy Corbyn, so who gives a shit?

Recommended for further reading: The media bias on antisemitism in the Left and Labour is now putting the lives of British Jewry at risk

Posted in Racism, The media, The right, Tories | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Antifascist updates: London report, Portland sentencing, international memorial campaign

A few quick pieces of antifascist news:

Irregular-but-interesting anarchist/antifascist blog While Rome Burns has a critical report up from the Hallowe’en/not-actually-Brexit-day goings-on in London, which is worth a read, as are the accompanying below-the-line comments.

Following on from last week’s sentencing of David Campbell in New York, another US antifascist comrade, Gage Halupowski, is about to start a six-year sentence related to clashes at one of Portland’s many far-right rallies. He’s currently still in jail but will be moved over to Oregon’s prison system soon, so the address above is likely to change in the near future. Meanwhile,a small update from David Campbell’s support crew, who say:

“A huge thank you from David to everyone who has sent him books! As of right now he’s got a bunch to read and has asked to hold off on sending more while he reads them. For now, please continue (or start) writing to David. Thanks!”

Finally, an appeal from Russian comrades to commemorate Ivan Khutorski, and all others murdered by fascists in the ten years since his death:

November 16, 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Ivan “Kostolom” Khutorskoi- a comrade, friend and elder brother.

He was a significant member of the anti-fascist movement in the beginning of the millennium, one of the leaders of RASH-Moscow. Ivan not only inspired people for the struggle against neo-Nazis who created a lawless environment on the streets of Russian cities, he was an example for us, thanks to his personal qualities: moral courage, devotion to friends, responsibility and kindness. It is impossible to overestimate his contribution to the anti-fascist scene in the Eastern Europe countries.

We launch a campaign in memory of Ivan and other anti-fascists who died at the hands of right-wing radicals in 21st century.

We ask you to join the solidarity actions in your city from November 10 to December 10: draw a graffiti, place a banner during football match, make a campaign or an commemoration event. All ideas are welcome. A movie about Ivan is available with the subtitles in different languages https://youtu.be/P_pfgPf3PG0

Post the photo and text for the campaign with the hashtag #memory161 or/and send it to memory161(at)riseup(dot)net. We also collect information about anti-fascists from all over the world murdered by neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists during last 20 years. Please send photos and texts as well as clarifying questions to memory161(at)riseup(dot)net

Distribute this text, information about solidarity actions and campaigns among your comrades and on the anti-fascist resources of your cities and countries.

No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten.

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New postal workers support network set up ahead of national strike

In an interesting new development, the Communications Workers Union has set up a new “supporters network” to help them mobilise wider community support in the upcoming Royal Mail strike. In their words:

The fight against exploitative employers, dodgy contracts and insecure work requires the support of every single community across the country.

Our recent vote for strike action in Royal Mail Group was secured by connecting with our membership in every corner of the UK – both online and on the ground.

Now we need your help to take our message to the public. By joining CWU Supporters you will be contacted with campaign materials and resources that will help us win this battle – and the others we are fighting.”

Of course, all unions have their limitations, the relatively militant ones like CWU and RMT as much as the more obviously flawed ones like the GMB and so on. While the CWU have done a great job so far at jumping through the hoops of industrial relations law, it’s possible that winning the dispute at Royal Mail might call for new forms of organisation capable of acting outside that legal framework altogether. But these kinds of argument are only vaguely meaningful if they’re made within the struggle itself, and it seems like the new network might be a good way for those of us who aren’t posties to start making some contribution to that struggle.

For a bit more background on the dispute, you can read this short explanation from a postie here.

Posted in Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Support antifascist prisoner David Campbell and anti-ISIS prisoner Aidan James

David Campbell, a New York-based antifascist, is starting an 18-month sentence after being convicted of “gang assault”, a charge that sounds similar to the notoriously terrible principle of “joint enterprise”, allowing people to be convicted for someone else’s actions. To make things a little easier while he’s inside, you can donate money here, send him a message using this form which his friends will print out and pass on to him, or pick something off his very extensive reading list (or even choose a book you think he’d like that’s not on there) and order a copy to be sent to:

David Campbell #3101900657
Eric M. Taylor Center
10-10 Hazen Street
East Elmhurst, NY  11370

If you’d like to write to David, but aren’t sure what to write about, here are some suggestions:

  • the last time you saw a good play, or your favorite play
  • the last time you saw a good movie (especially a good horror movie!), or your favorite horror movie
  • the last time you read a good novel, or your favorite novel
  • the last time you saw some good art (especially contemporary art!), or your favorite artist/museum
  • the last time you were hiking/camping/in nature, or your favorite place to spend time in nature. Tell me about the sights, sounds, smells, etc.
  • the last delicious home-cooked meal you ate
  • the last time you witnessed or participated in an act of kindness or solidarity.
  • weird history/radical history
  • mind-blowing science
  • outer space
  • the ocean
  • body horror
  • fish
  • satire
  • brutal realism
  • transcendental states
  • geometric shapes
  • climate catastrophe
  • decadent wealth (ever toured Versailles or something similar?)
  • the trust-security dilemma (how opening up and taking risks allows for growth, but can also open you up to exploitation)”

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Aidan James has been convicted on one terror charge related to his time fighting with the YPG against ISIS, which I think makes him the second British citizen, after Shilan Ozcelik, to be convicted for this kind of activity. I can’t currently find any kind of organised solidarity campaign, or even a confirmation of what his address is, but will share more information as I find it. I don’t romanticise Rojava, and I have my criticisms of groups like the PYD and YPG, but I want to be able to discuss those criticisms openly and honestly with others, without anyone worrying that any part of the conversation might be illegal. Nothing good can come of increased state repression against YPG/YPJ volunteers and supporters.

On a related note, this recent article by Michael Karadjis is another recommended read that takes a clear stand against the Turkish invasion without whitewashing or mythologising the PYD.

Posted in Repression | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Call to action against fascism & anti-semitism: 25 October – 9 November

From the Outlive Them Network:

In the year since our first call to action, we have lost over one hundred lives to white terror. But we have also found each other. And we are many more than we first thought.

But people are still dying — people like us and people not like us – and others held captive in camps and cages. And to the anti-Semitic violence sweeping the West, the ruling class has no answer. Each and every attack on our people has been used to justify new police powers, and to pit us one against the other.

In the fighting spirit of last year’s International Days of Action, and of centuries of Jewish popular struggle, we are calling for people everywhere to join us in a second global wave of action:  two weeks of resistance and revolt against the far right, two weeks of total non-cooperation with the institutions, the political parties, and the private enterprises that collaborate with them.

Beginning the weekend of 25 October, around the one-year anniversary of the Tree of Life pogrom in the USA, the actions will continue through the weekend of 9 November, marking one month since the attempted pogrom in Halle as well as 81 years since Kristallnacht.

We see today, as we have seen before, organized violence – sanctioned by the state, blessed by the church, funded and defended by the ruling class – directed against ethnoracial, religious, sexual, and gender minorities. But today we are fighting back, as we always have. And together we say that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us.

This call is therefore also a call to solidarity with peoples everywhere struggling for life and for freedom:  from Brazil to Burma, Catalunya to Chile, China to Ecuador to Egypt, Germany to Greece to Iraq, Kashmir to Kurdistan, Lebanon to Palestine, Poland to Russia, Sudan to United States and beyond.

As our comrades from Pittsburgh, USA remind us:

“Even in the most challenging moments, we can learn from the choices and traditions of our ancestors to imagine what resistance and healing can look like today. We as Jews can claim our unique history of anti-fascist resistance and use it to inspire our current struggle against anti-semitism, white nationalism, and fascism. We hope this [time] of commemoration offers us all space for both healing and fighting back.”

Action Items

  1. Mark your calendars for 25 October – 9 November. Call your own people to action on these dates in solidarity with the Outlive Them International. The Weeks of Action will begin with an anti-fascist Shabbat (called by some of our people in Pittsburgh), and continue through to the International Day of Action on 9 Nov.
  2. Share word of this weekend of action widely. Craft your own call: use or edit our words, images, and resources as you see fit. Come up with the strategies, targets, and tactics best suited to your own community.
  3. In unity is our strength. Reach out to other groups already resisting the murderous far right in your area or start your own. Organize an action together. Forge connections with other oppressed communities that will endure beyond the International Weeks of Action.
  4. Document your actions and those of the oppressors. Share images, stories, and reports with your social networks using the hashtag #OutliveThem. Then share them with us at wewilloutlivethem@protonmail.com. Please include only as much identifying information as participants consent to give.
  5. Be safe, be smart, and be dangerous. Consider people’s needs, capabilities, and vulnerabilities. Plan lower-risk actions that different people can participate in. People may or may not choose to plan higher-risk actions. We ask that all who answer this call be prepared to support each other in case of arrest, detention, or repression.

WHEREVER WE STAND, WE STAND AGAINST FASCISM
DONDEQUIERA QUE ESTEMOS, DE PIE EN CONTRA DEL FASCISMO
OÙ QUE NOUS SOYONS, DEBOUT CONTRE LE FASCISME
Где бы мы ни стояли, мы против фашизма.
איפה שאנחנו עומדים, אנחנו עומדים נגד פאשיזם
حيثما نقف فنقف ضد الفاشية
GDZIEKOLWIEK JESTEŚMY, JESTEŚMY PRZECIW FASZYZMOWI
AŤ UŽ JSME KDEKOLI, STOJÍME PROTI FAŠISMU
Όπου κι αν είμαστε, είμαστε ενάντια στον φασισμό
ON SIGUEM, DRETS CONTRA EL FEIXISME
ONDE QUER QUE ESTEJAMOS, ESTAMOS CONTRA O FASCISMO

* * * * *
wewilloutlivethem@protonmail.com | outlivethem.wordpress.com | @outlivethem | #OutliveThem

 

I don’t really have much of my own to add this time around, but here’s what I said about their last call, which I still pretty much stand by (except that I’m glad to say UKIP are no longer really relevant):

“Here in the UK, Jewish antifascists are still trapped in the middle of a bruising fight between the cynicism of Jewish establishment/centrist figures trying to use the spectre of antisemitism as a way to delegitimise anyone to the left of Frank Field, and leftists responding to this by denying or defending obvious instances of antisemitism on the other. Much has happened over the last year that won’t be forgotten or forgiven easily, from the smearing of Jewish socialists and anti-racists as “a source of virulent antisemitism”, the clowns who tried to claim that attending a “seber” was proof of antisemitism, trying to set themselves up as experts on the subject while not even bothering to learn the words they’re using, to the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, where the “Campaign Against Antisemitism” used a mass murder committed by a nazi who specifically targeted a synagogue for its work with refugees as a chance to have a go at Muslims and the left, while a Labour Party branch in Stockton voted down a motion condemning the attack, to self-proclaimed radicals and feminists adopting conspiracy theories blaming rich Jews for the existence of trans peopleconspiracy theories that quickly cropped up in the comments section of anarcho-syndicalist facebook pages. All of this while UKIP, as part of its transformation into an openly far-right street movement, welcomed Mark “gas the Jews” Meechan into the party, a development that the professional crusaders against anti-semitism don’t seem to have that much of a problem with.

In such a grim context, just insisting on the possibility of a Jewish antifascism – one that takes its place as part of the international class struggle, not as a PR operation for Netanyahu’s ethnostate – feels like a radical act. You might want to get in touch with Jewdas to see if they’re planning anything, or plan something on your own – I still think that anything targeting UKIP would be a legitimate action at the moment, and given his track record Chris Williamson, who’s never apologised for his endorsement of Vanessa Beeley, is well overdue a reckoning.”

 

Posted in Racism, The left, The right | Tagged , | 1 Comment