Quick events listings for mid-July

A few quick listings:

This weekend, on Saturday 20th, Norwich Anarchist Communist Group host a video showing and discussion on “YouTube, Social Media and Anarchy – Bringing Radical Politics to the Masses”. Next weekend, there’s quite a bit of stuff coming up – there’s a “power beyond borders” camp for climate and migrant justice at a secret location somewhere in the southeast, Nottingham Deliveroo riders will be shutting down a Deliveroo kitchen as part of their ongoing organising campaign at the company, Mayday Rooms in London are hosting a discussion on anti-gentrification struggles in Rio de Janeiro, the UVW union are having a fundraiser party in the capital that night, and then on Sunday 27th Leeds Anti-Fascist Network are hosting a summer social and there’s a “No War but the Class War” meeting in Birmingham.

Hopefully I’ll get the time to put together a more comprehensive round-up of other stuff soon, but in the meantime the ACG have some recent workplace notes, and Freedom have a guide to other radical summer gatherings, along with a social centre round-up, which are all worth a look.

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

Upcoming IWW and IWGB actions, outsourced cleaners and caterers start indefinite strike, more action to save London Black Women’s Project

A few quick updates on things not covered in the last round-up:

The Angry Workers of the World are asking for a solidarity phone-in to a beauty salon that underpaid a building worker. They ask:

“Dear fellow workers,

Hope you all good. A building worker contacted us after he had been paid only £420 for two weeks of work, converting a beauty salon in West Drayton. We send various letters to the owner of the shop and visited the shop last Saturday. The boss threatened our fellow building worker with sending the police to his home, but otherwise didn’t move. We have to step things up a bit and ask you all to phone the shop on Friday and Saturday (5th and 6th of July). It is likely that the people who pick up the phone are workers who hire chairs in the salon, so please be polite when delivering a message along these lines:

“I just want to inform you that Mr Yaseen still hasn’t been paid his outstanding wages and urge you to ask the owner of the shop to get in touch with the IWW trade union.”

9am to 7pm / UK time”

They also have a new issue of their West London workers’ paper out now.

Meanwhile, the main London IWW branch have also put a request for help out:

“LONDON CALLOUT: London IWW is planning a wildcat action in the coming weeks aimed at resisting exploitative working conditions being inflicted on organised workers! Much like with some of our recent actions we would love for volunteers to stand in solidarity with our Union. We can’t give you the location or time for this yet, so if you want to get involved PLEASE EMAIL us at london@iww.org.uk or SEND A DM to this account. You will then be put into a private message list in order to share details closer to time. Due to the nature of the action we will likely *not* be sharing location, target business, or time publicly. It is therefore important that you contact us directly.”

Outsourced cleaners and catering staff fighting for the London Living Wage at government department BEIS have declared that they’ll be taking indefinite strike action from the 15th onwards. They’re inviting people to come down and join them as they start the indefinite strike by walking out at 12pm on the day. By my reckoning, that makes at least the third ongoing all-out strike, along with Bromley library staff and Colloids on Merseyside.

In other union action, the staff organising through the IWGB at posh Mayfair member’s club Loulou’s are calling for another protest on Thursday 11th, (the same evening as the next AWW reading group), and on Friday 12th the IWGB will also be hosting a “welcome party” for the University of London’s new Vice-Chancellor, reminding her of the ongoing dispute around outsourced workers on the campus. They’re also selling quite nice fundraiser t-shirts at the moment.

In not-directly-union news, there’s going to be a “rent strike weekender” happening in London on the 13th and 14th (they’re also selling some extremely snazzily-designed fundraiser shirts at the moment), and the campaign to save London Black Women’s Project continues with the next protest being planned for Monday 15th July.

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

Late June/early July class struggle round-up

A few upcoming events:

On Monday 1st, there’s an emergency protest to save the London Black Women’s Project, which is threatened with closure.

Also in the coming week, on Tuesday 2nd London Anarchist Communist Group are hosting a showing of the film Rebellion in Patagonia, a 1974 film about a historical uprising in Argentina. On Friday 5th, there’s a call for a demo at Charlton Lido as part of a general call for solidarity with Bromley Library staff, who are out on an indefinite strike over pay and staffing levels. Bromley libraries are owned by Greenwich Leisure Limited, who also own the lido and a number of leisure centres across London.

On the night of the 5th, there’s a fundraiser disco for the United Voices of the World union. You can read about some of their recent and ongoing campaigns here, and Chanel cleaners organising through the UVW have also just voted for strike action after a union member was suspended. Cafe staff at Greenwich Uni organised through UVW are also threatening strike action in their attempts to win the London living wage.

In Bradford, NHS staff threatened by outsourcing have voted to strike, with over 300 NHS porters, domestics and security staff set to walk out for a week from Monday 8th July onwards. On the 9th-11th, outsourced cleaners on Great Western Railway will be striking against imposed changes to their shift patterns. On Thursday 11th, the Angry Workers of the World will be running a reading group on racism and class.

On the weekend of the 13th, it’s the Durham Miners Gala, and For Britain are threatening to show up and crash it, so Football Lads and Lasses against Fascism are planning to make any fascists attempting to show their faces feel extremely unwelcome. Beyond that, on the weekend of the 19th-21st, Plan C are running their annual Fast Forward Festival.

Other miscellaneous news, mostly workplace-related, without a specific date attached: the couriers organising through the IWGB at The Doctor’s Laboratory have now called their dispute off after winning a new pay deal. The IWGB is still in dispute with posh Mayfair club LouLou’s, where kitchen porters are fighting for a living wage and sick pay and against the threat of outsourcing.

On the trains, clerical and technical staff on Northern Rail organised through TSSA are threatening to ballot for strike action over pay, while the RMT are balloting for action across London against Tube cuts, and are also threatening to ballot for a national rail strike to defend pensions.

Workers at Merseyside plastics firm Colloids are still out on an indefinite strike for the reinstatement of a victimised rep. Support staff at the University of Birmingham are the only branch in Higher Education to have successfully voted for strike action in the 2018-2019 negotiating period, and have already taken one day of action during an open day. You can donate to their strike fund here.

Staff at Tate Galleries have called off their planned strikes after winning an improved pay deal, and grassroots cleaners’ union CAIWU is planning protests against the sacking of a number of their members at co-working space WeWork. They have a page up about the dispute here, but not much information about it so far.

Finally, cops news: members of the “Tower Hamlets 286”, antifascists who were rounded up in a mass arrest in 2013, have been getting some big money in compensation, and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance have updated their list of known spycops with a few more names.

Posted in Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What’s yr take on Evola? Some very late words on Nina Power’s recent stances

The aftermath of the Piazza della Loggia bombing, a 1974 attack carried out by the Evola-inspired group Ordine Nuovo.

“If anyone deviates from the ‘rules’, that is to say sees the debate-form for the sham it is, or takes to the streets, displacing the imposed ‘platform’ for the construction of a new order, then the true face of all those who defend ‘debate’ is revealed: suddenly those who are most powerful pretend that they are under siege by those who are ‘unreasonable’…

Debate is a cover-story: never having to be honest about your true intentions while pretending to be open-minded. Debate dissociates argument from passion; phony talking-points from real life. There are multiple things we do not agree about – and we also disagree with the way in which you want us to say it. The narrowness of the debate-form allows those with power to dictate the boundaries of ‘reasonable’ discussion and ignore (or police) everything that happens outside it.”Nina Power, 2015/16

“I’m very interested… in what it means to live as freely and honestly as possible…, to not be manipulated as much as possible, and to recognise when someone is trying to do this to you.”Nina Power, 2019

A few words by way of introduction: this is a response to a small controversy that I’m just catching up with, but which took place a few months back, and so anyone who has any interest in the subject probably thinks of it as old news by now. Clearly, I’m not part of the overlapping London left/artworld/academic scenes most directly involved (it obviously takes a fair while for the stagecoach carrying the latest London drama and gossip to reach my local town crier!), and so it might be worth taking a moment to justify why I’m taking an interest at all, especially as it involves responding to some deeply personal stuff.

First off, there is a sense in which I was invited to participate in the conversation from the very first open letter, which was addressed “To all who oppose fascism”. The details of Nina Power’s specific situation aside, the spread of alt-right, or neoreactionary or whatever, ideas is something that concerns a lot of people, and so it seems not unreasonable to take an interest in it.

Secondly, even though I’m not particularly part of the same scenes, I am interested in Nina Power’s ideas and work: I read and enjoyed One-Dimensional Woman back in the day, it’s a book that I’ve bought a copy of to give as a present for someone I like and care about, I’ve definitely recommended that people I know read her work and so on. Perhaps that’s not the closest bond in the world, but that is some kind of investment, even if it’s closer to the passive star-fan kind of relationship than anything more meaningful and mutual.

Thirdly, because, as she reminds us, Power was caught up in the state repression that fell on participants in the 2010 student movement. I tend to take the view that we do owe a certain respect and consideration to those who’ve been up against, or close to, the sharp end, or even the blunt end, of the state’s attention, people like the Shrewsbury pickets, those who were out in 84-85, the blacklisted construction workers, those caught up by spycops (to touch on another example that can be tricky at times) and so on. Since the following is largely an explanation of why I think Power’s going badly, dangerously wrong, it might seem like a strange way of paying respect and consideration; but sometimes I think respecting people can look like taking the time to explain why you disagree with them as calmly and politely as possible, where it might be tempting to just say “lol get lost you wrongun” or similar.

And finally, the most important reason, which is that since first finding the story, and especially since reading Power’s side of it, it’s stuck in my head and bothered away at me, which I think is usually why people write things. Apologies if the above introduction seems a bit lengthy and rambling, but I think compared to what Power’s written it’s relatively short and concise.

Anyway, the core of the story, for anyone who’s not familiar with it, is that Power’s been accused of both transphobia and fascist/neoreactionary sympathies, and wrote up a twopart response. I’m not going to go into her views on gender too much here, although in passing I do find it notable how often the two seem to go hand-in-hand, for some reason you never seem to get people becoming less sympathetic to the far-right at the same time as getting into “gender critical”/trans-exclusionary versions of feminism.

The first part is, I think, much more interesting and compelling, but it doesn’t really have much to say about the main points of disagreement, so all I have to say in response is (and excuse the weird shift from third to second person here, but it’s hard to read such a personal piece of writing and not respond in kind):

If Nina Power does happen to read this, I want to acknowledge that the situations and experiences described in that piece are really horrible, and for whatever it can possibly be worth I really am sorry that you and those close to you had to go through them. I don’t know how much our big utopian dreams are worth in this day and age, but I think that wanting to work towards the end of the state, a world where no-one would have to go through that particular ordeal ever again, is a good goal to have. I hope that in the future you can continue making contributions to that sort of goal, perhaps alongside some of the people who are criticising you, and who you’re currently scorning as authoritarian, police-like, cancellers and so on.

The second part, “Cancelled”, begins with a lengthy critique of people who disagree with things, or who take their disagreements too seriously, or who impose consequences that might seem excessive as a result of those disagreements. This is, in the abstract, hard to disagree with outright: certainly, we can all think of instances where we, or people we care about, have been hurt as a result of a disagreement, and we can wish they hadn’t happened, or had happened differently. But it’s also hard to accept outright: are we supposed to never draw lines, never say something is unacceptable, that beyond a certain point we will not go? To use Power’s favoured term, deciding that under no circumstances can anything or anyone ever be “cancelled” is a recipe for paralysis, as meaningless as deciding that everything and everyone is cancelled.

At some point I think it’s necessary to say, for instance, that one is against Anders Breivik. And, at the risk of being overly controversial, of being exposed as an authoritarian canceller, I would extend that to saying that I am against anyone who is proud of inspiring Breivik’s attack.

Power does still apparently understand herself as being against fascism, and gives a broad definition of that term; but she skips over one of the most relevant questions here, which is whether fascism includes the thought of self-proclaimed “superfascist” Julius Evola. And if it does, what are the conclusions that follow on from that?

Where she does touch on specifics, Power’s favoured method is the broad sweeping conflation, “What the cancellers of today want to say is – we have decided that this person is ‘over’ – call them DC Miller, call them Sam Kriss, call them Deanna Havas, call them TERFs, call them Lucia Diego, call them Nina Power, call them Angela Nagle, call them Satan, call them fascists, call them Nazis, call them ‘problematic’, call them ‘cancelled’, try to stop them speaking, try to smear them politically and personally, use lies, use exaggeration, use anything you can think of to get rid of them. We are right because they are wrong, and they are wrong because they say something or behave in ways we do not.”

This is a cheap trick, and a fairly meaningless one. I could equally well say that “I am writing this to challenge the people who say that we should discuss the ideas of Evola and Nick Land, and that Death in June are good, and that the royal family are shapeshifting lizards who killed Princess Diana and that Robert Mueller and Trump are working together to fight Hillary Clinton’s deep state paedophile ring.” Note that I don’t have to prove that Power or anyone close to her has actually said any such thing, I can just say those things in the same sentence, and, if I have any particularly credulous readers who are inclined to take everything I say on trust, then there you go, I’ve “shown” that Power and those who agree with her have ludicrous views.

Beyond this, it might be worth taking a look at those names in slightly closer detail. Presumably this is a list of people who Power feels have been unfairly persecuted; but I’m not sure that stacking all those names together has quite the intended effect.
For instance, I didn’t recognise the name Deanna Havas at first, and had to look her up; it turns out that she’s the person who recently told an antifascist journalist complaining about getting death threats from nazis that those death threats were right and just.*

Perhaps this was intended as a joke, but if one wants to make unkind jokes about people who are currently dealing with death threats from nazis I, being the authoritarian police-like canceller I am, would suggest that maybe one could make such jokes quietly, to close friends, behind closed doors or maybe even in a park or on a hill, and perhaps consider not addressing those “jokes” directly to the people facing death threats? But of course, if I say that Havas is problematic or wrong for saying something that I disagree with, then I become one of Power’s authoritarian censoring cancellers; so how, precisely, do we deal with those telling our comrades that they should be be killed, that death threats against them are just?

Similarly, Angela Nagle feels like an odd name to shoehorn into this list. There’s a lot to be said about Nagle, and all the things that are wrong with her work; but one of the first things that stood out to me when I encountered her work is how little kindness or generosity there is in it. If the purpose of Power’s article is to plead for people to treat those who disagree with them more charitably and fairly, I don’t think there’s much to be learned from Nagle on the subject.

But this sweeping conflation is just a warm-up, Power manages to cram even more ingredients in for her next trick: “They used to know us. They want to pretend they now do not, lest they too get infected by this thing they call ‘fascism’. They want to suggest that anyone who deviates from the script – and what is the script this week – oh I don’t know – that LD50 was a ‘fascist recruitment ground’, that no-platforming people who have a second-wave feminist position on sex and gender is a good and righteous thing to do, that anyone who voted to leave the EU is a terrible person, that we shouldn’t discuss fascist ideas and iconography, that talking about nature leads directly somehow to someone shooting up a mosque, that it is good to say that everyone is a victim apart from ‘cis white men’, that people need to be protected from views that disagree with their own, that irony should be banned, that memes are dangerous, etc. etc.”

By the end of the sentence, Power appears to have forgotten how it started, and who can blame her? Again, here we have some obviously stupid ideas – apparently “they” want to say that anyone who voted to leave the EU is individually terrible, and that irony should be banned, why not throw in that they want to ban children from singing baa baa black sheep, and that they’re coming to bend your bananas or possibly straighten them – mixed in with some rather more defensible ones. Such as, for instance, the claim that a space that hosted a range of far-right, nationalist and anti-immigrant speakers, talking to admiring audiences with members who spoke of their support for David Duke, could be described as a fascist recruitment ground.

In another fragment, Power tells us that “they” say “that we shouldn’t discuss fascist ideas and iconography”. I don’t think that anyone actually says this. There are whole podcasts, and blogs like slackbastard and three-way fight, and books like Insurgent Supremacists and Ctrl-Alt-Delete and so on, that do very little other than discuss fascist ideas and iconography. As far as I’m aware, no-one, or at least no-one on the antifascist side, objects to them doing this, so I don’t think that’s where the disagreement actually lies. I suspect the real disagreement regards, for instance, whether people want to hear Death in June discuss fascism. Here, I will happily admit that I’m not interested in hearing what a group founded by National Front members, one that was still associating with militant Nazis from National Action decades later, have to say about fascism. Perhaps I’m being closed-minded here, and I could really benefit from listening to more of Douglas Pearce’s views, or Boyd Rice or Brett Stevens or whoever; but let’s not play coy and try to pretend that an objection to listening to fascists is actually an objection to talking about fascism.

In passing, the reference to “people who have a second-wave feminist position on sex and gender” is similarly slippery, as if it were meaningful to talk about “a second-wave feminist position” like that was a single coherent thing, as though there weren’t fierce disagreements between second-wave radical feminists and second-wave Marxist feminists, or indeed between second-wave radical feminists and other second-wave radical feminists, etc. I certainly haven’t noticed anyone trying to no-platform Silvia Federici lately.

The list peters out with “that memes are dangerous”, which again seems somewhat unarguable in the age of Brenton Tarrant’s “real life effort posting”. Are “remove kebab” and “subscribe to pewdiepie” just harmless japes now? Does “screw your optics” count as a meme yet? How about “bowl patrol”? I remember back in the day, Counterfire organised a “festival of dangerous ideas”, with Power being one of the most interesting-sounding speakers; but do ideas lose the ability to be dangerous if they’re written in impact font in a top text/bottom text format?

Next, Power suggests that the fundamental disagreement is about “the question of what can be discussed, and where, and by who. Can we all talk about anything everywhere?” This, at least, has a very simple answer: no, we can’t. Perhaps if we’re discussing normative ethical ideals, the world as we would like to see it, then that might be a nice dream; but if we’re talking about the world as it is, a world governed by the rule of private property, then we can usually say what the property owners allow, where they’ll allow it. For instance, Power’s writing, and this reply, are both hosted by wordpress, which means that we can talk about the things their terms of service allow; if we want to talk about anything at all in a coffee shop, we will usually be expected to buy a coffee first or else be asked to leave; we can’t get our views printed in the Sun or the Mail because that’s not how it works; anything we say anywhere in this country will be expected to comply with public order legislation, Prevent duties and so on.

In this world, those spaces that aren’t governed by the logic of capital are often carved out for some specific purpose. That being the case, I don’t really see a problem with, for instance, a group of students who’ve occupied a lecture hall to protest against an increase in student fees not wanting to let Nick Clegg use that space to talk about how increasing student fees are actually great; or an anarchist bookfair deciding that they want to just use that space to discuss anarchist ideas, rather than welcoming any weird reactionary with a cause to promote; or, in general, people running a specific space deciding that those with “a second-wave feminist position on sex and gender” can go get their ideas printed in the Guardian or New Statesman or Mail or Sun instead.

After this, Power moves on to a defence of Daniel Miller, noting that he made himself unpopular with his defence of LD50, but skipping over the questions of the threats he made against people who disagreed with him on the subject, and also his apparent fondness for Julius Evola. I would be interested to hear more about what exactly Daniel Miller thinks about Evola, and also what he thinks about his fellow Evola fans, like the various Evola-inspired Italian fascist terror groups, Steve Bannon, the Wolves of Vinland, much of the alt-right and so on.

Power complains that “I don’t even want to say that Daniel isn’t a ‘fascist’ because it’s not the point, I don’t want to play this game, because it’s your game, it’s a boring game. It reminds me of The Young Ones, where most everyone and everything is a ‘fascist’, although everyone seems to have forgotten that this was a comedy.”

But there is a difference between calling everyone and everything a fascist** and being suspicious of people who seem to have a very strong interest in the ideas of “super-fascist” theorists. Perhaps Miller will clarify this point, but I suspect not; it seems like his game is the “refusing to say how far I agree or disagree with fascists” game, and he seems to like that game a lot.

In passing, we can cast a similarly suspicious glance at Justin Murphy: perhaps “fascist” isn’t quite the right term for his vision of “neo-feudal techno-communism”, but I defy anyone to read his vision of a hierarchically stratified class society based around technologies of perfect control and not shudder at the totalitarianism:

Basically it would have a producer elite, and this is where a lot of my left-wing friends start rolling their eyes, because it basically is kind of like an aristocracy… Imagine something like the Internet of Things — you know, all of these home devices that we see more and more nowadays that have sensors built in and can passively and easily monitor all types of measures in the environment. Imagine connecting that up to a blockchain, and specifically Smart Contracts, so that basically the patch is being constantly measured, your behavior in the patch is being constantly measured. You might have, say, skin conductance measures on your wrist; there might be audio speakers recording everyone’s voice at all times…

Well, all of the speech that people are speaking would be constantly compared to some database of truth. It could be Wikipedia or whatever. And every single statement would have some sort of probability of being true or false, or something like that. That could all be automated through the Internet of Things feeding this information the internet, and basically checking it for truth or falsity. And then you have some sort of model that says, if a statement has a probability of being false that is higher than — maybe set it really high to be careful, right? — 95 percent, so only lies that can be really strongly confirmed… Those are going to get reported to the community as a whole.

If you have X amount of bad behaviors, then you lose your entitlement from the aristocrat producers.”

Approaching the ending, Power tells us that “Daniel is an honourable, kind, brave and interesting man. A man who is against authoritarian behaviour of all kinds, including that on the left, which makes him very much not a ‘fascist’.” This feels like an interesting reversal of the usual question of separating the art and the artist: instead of asking whether and how we can or should enjoy work produced by a person who does bad things in their personal life, we’re told that someone is very nice in their personal life, and so we shouldn’t trouble ourselves about the fact that their work appears to be promoting the ideas of a fascist theorist.

The being “against authoritarian behaviour of all kinds, including that on the left” tells us very little as well, as there are plenty of fascists who are happy to proclaim that they’re against authoritarian behaviour on the left. Troy Southgate says that he’s a national anarchist; Augustus Sol Invictus has been a candidate for the Libertarian Party, and everyone knows that libertarianism is the opposite of authoritarianism, so he must not be a fascist either, nevermind his actual fasces tattoo. Richard Moult says that “I hold no political views save that of championing individual freedoms, as long as those freedoms do not seek to cause suffering to others – with these “others” also including all the non-human life forms we share this planet with”, but apparently this pro-freedom, anti-suffering stance is compatible with having spent years and years helping to run an occult nazi cult that promotes random acts of rape and murder. And so on.

As for the rest of Miller’s good qualities, I’m reminded of that passage quoted by Power in the first part of her statement:

“One can destroy one’s self or another with all the appearance of profound cosmic compassion. This compassion radiates out to everywhere except where the relevant people are.”

I don’t doubt that Miller is kind and compassionate to some people, perhaps even to many people. But this compassion didn’t appear to radiate out when he warned “Time is running out for these clueless little sociopathspatience for these kinds of twisted people is ending. They themselves can feel this and sleep badly, haunted by bad dreamsMake them think you’re bluffing as you bait them into a killshot.” That does not seem like a particularly kind thing to say.

Likewise, I’m not sure that Miller’s compassion extends to those who would be harmed, or have already been harmed, by a revival of Evola-inspired terror attacks, or those who would suffer under the kinds of authoritarian regime that Evola or Justin Murphy dream of.

Perhaps Power and her new friends are very interesting debaters; but as a wise person once said, “There are multiple things we do not agree about – and we also disagree with the way in which you want us to say it.”



*admittedly, this particular charming exchange took place after Power’s article was written and posted, but I don’t think it’s the first time Havas has acted like an arsehole, so it doesn’t seem too out of character.

**although attentive readers may notice that this is pretty much the attitude taken by Foucault/D&G in that section she cites, so apparently saying that everything is fascist is good when Foucault says it, but not otherwise?

Posted in Debate, Stuff that I don't think is very useful, The right | Tagged | 4 Comments

Extra mid-June workplace notes: outsourced workers strike in London, fighting against union-busting in Birmingham and Merseyside

Quick updates on a few things not covered in my last post:

I’d missed that there was two weeks of strike action by cleaners working in government departments, with cleaners at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office striking over pay and conditions last week and cleaners along with catering and security staff at the business deparment BEIS walking out for five days from Monday 17th on.

They say:

“Outsourced workers (catering, security, postal, porter and cleaning workers) are striking over their poverty pay and outrageous treatment at the hands of Aramark and ISS World.

BEIS outsourced workers have been striking for nearly 6 months now fighting for the London Living Wage and terms and conditions comparable to civil servants they work alongside. They are sick of BEIS’s ‘fair and competitive wage’ mantra and want a LIVEABLE wage. Recently their Trade Union, PCS Union, had to set up food banks inside the Department because the contractor ISS World can’t pay people the money they are entitled to.

Come and join the strikers for a lively week of strike fun:
Monday 17 June, 11:30am – 14:00, Aramark (catering) and ISS cleaning staff on strike.
• Jamaican cookout: Picket lines start outside BEIS, 1 Victoria Street. Free Jamaican themed lunch for BEIS staff.

Tuesday 18 June, 07:30am – 11:00, Aramark (catering) and ISS all staff walk out on strike.
• Picket lines outside BEIS, 1 Victoria Street.

Wednesday 19 June, 07:30am – 15:00.
• Picket lines outside BEIS, 1 Victoria Street, followed by a rally in Parliament Square at lunchtime with Labour front bench team.

Thursday 20 June, 07:30am – 14:30.
• Picket line Picnic: Picket lines outside BEIS, 1 Victoria Street, followed by a picnic in St James’s Park with workers at BEIS.

Friday 21 June
• shhhhhh it’s a surprise ;)”

As well as joining them on the picket lines, for their picnic, and/or for their surprise on Friday, you can help by donating to their hardship fund here.

Elsewhere, there are calls to support workers standing up against management victimisation in Birmingham and Merseyside on Wednesday 19th. In Birmingham, a union rep is facing trumped-up disciplinary charges from construction company Fortem after whistleblowing over health and safety breaches.

“Fortem are attacking our shop steward and health safety rep due to carrying out their union-mandated activities and whistleblowing over the suspicion of possible health and safety breaches.

Our rep is now facing trumped up charges due to being a dedicated union activist and putting workers & tenants health first – something in this era of social housing tragedies should be applauded not be punished for by FORTEM.

Show your solidarity by joining Unite’s protest to drop all charges against Unite’s health&safety reps / shop stewards and to stamp out all union-busting & blacklisting in our city.

All welcome from unions, campaign groups and Birmingham residents.


Over in the North-West, the same Wednesday will see a rally in support of the striking plastics workers at Colloids, who are also fighting for the reinstatement of a victimised rep.

Posted in Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Mid-June events listings: Peterloo, Orgreave, letting fees and more

A quick listing of a few upcoming events:

On Thursday 13th, the People’s History Museum in Manchester will be hosting a discussion on “From Peterloo to Orgreave” with the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign. Following on from that, Saturday 15th will see the annual Orgreave rally commemorating the 35th anniversary of the strike. This weekend will also see the start of the week-long Antiuniversity, with a whole host of events, mainly in London but with a few in places like Liverpool and Middlesbrough as well. The coming weekend will be a busy one in Manchester, with the IWW running an organiser training in the daytime on Saturday 15th, tenants’ union ACORN running a special party to celebrate the defeat of letting fees in the evening (I love their pricing scheme: 🤗 Members: Free, 😄 Non-members: £3 donation OTD, 🐍 Letting agents: £15 for us to consider letting you in, then £50 if you pass our referencing), and the 0161 Festival crew running the first installment of a monthly antifascist film day on Sunday 16th.

In the following week, there’s going to be an event marking the 20th anniversary of the June 18th 1999 Carnival Against Capital, hoping to “bring together people who played a part in these histories and those who want to learn about it”. The 18th will also see the start of five days of RMT strike action on South-Western Railways, as talks with about keeping the guard on the train and what that means in practice have broken down. In other RMT news, they’re also calling on people to join them for a demo against Tube cuts on Thursday 20th.

Other upcoming industrial action in late June includes Newham council refuse workers, who’ll be walking out in a dispute over pay for twelve days from the 24th onwards, and a strike by medical couriers organised through the IWGB, who’ll be striking on the 25th and 26th against pay cutsyou can read more about the background to that here.

In recent years, June 28th has been observed as a day of solidarity with anarchist prisoner Eric King, and since he’s been going through a really tough time lately that might be a good time to send him a letter or print off an interesting article to post to him – his support team say “He is asking folks to PLEASE send articles for him to read. (all) News about his favorite football team Manchester United, about science, IRA articles, space, anything interesting, funny, weird or entertaining.”

Closer to home, workers at Liverpool plastics firm Colloids have gone out on an indefinite strike demanding the reinstatement of a victimised union rep, and they’ll be having a strike fundraiser benefit night at Dunny’s Sports Bar in Liverpool on the 28th. If you can make it down to the picket line, the address is 10 Kirkby Bank Road, L33 7SY, and they also welcome solidarity messages on social media using the #reinstategeorge hashtag.

At the end of the month, there’s the Edinburgh Anarcha-Feminist Bookfair on the 29th. Looking ahead into early July, the United Voices of the World union will be having a fundraiser disco on the 5th, and you can read about some of their recent strikes and victories here. Further ahead still, the middle of July will see the Durham miners’ gala on the 13th, and Plan C’s annual Fast Forward Festival on the weekend of the 19th-21st.

In other news, the Anarchist Communist Group have just published a workplace round-up covering a few other disputes not mentioned here, and they’re also helping to publicise the case of some Greek anarchists threatened with imprisonment and giant fines. You can donate directly to help pay their “security deposit” here.

Back in the UK, a woman who was spied on by undercover cops is raising funds to try and take them to court, with a deadline of June 16th. Finally, Notes From Below have just published a special new issue called Logout, on “worker resistance within and against the platform economy”.

Posted in Anarchists, Housing, Repression, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Extra late May notes on workplace disputes, prisoner updates and more

A few further notes I didn’t manage to fit into the last update:

In radical/anarcho news, a new issue of London’s anarchist paper, Rebel City, is out now, along with the latest issue of the Anarchist Communist Group paper, Jackdaw. The ACG have just welcomed a West London branch to their organisation, which might be worth checking out if you live in that part of the world. Elsewhere, Notes From Below have a new special issue on the refusal of work, and Brighton Solidarity Federation report that a business is trying to get one of their members blacklisted across the city.

In workplace news, Unison are claiming victory in the long-running Birmingham care workers dispute, after the council have backed down on plans to make huge cuts to the service. Over in Liverpool, a planned strike by low-paid hospital staff has also just been suspended after the trust agreed to pay out full back pay for 2018/19.

In Bromley, library workers are set to walk out on an indefinite strike from 6 June onwards in a dispute over pay and staffing levels, and the low-paid outsourced workers employed by Mitie at Sellafield have apparently just voted to continue their dispute with a two-week strike from 2 June, although the Socialist Party seem to be the only source for that news at the moment.

Finally, a few prisoner updates: in the UK, Smash IPP are asking people to come to a protest to free the remaining IPP prisoners on Thursday May 30th, and also to write letters to help IPP prisoner Ian Hartley get a new, more supportive probation officer.

In Bulgaria, antifascist prisoner Jock Palfreeman has now ended his hunger strike, having seemingly won the ability to be visited by his family and speak to the media. Over in the US, the campaign to get long-term black liberation prisoner Jalil Muntaqim released is still asking for people to get involved, and has just been given something of a boost with a new open letter signed by various prominent figures. Anarchist prisoner Eric King is asking for support as he’s just been moved into solitary confinement following an attack by fascist inmates. The state’s attempts to punish inmates following the 2017 Vaughn uprising still aren’t going that well, as Roman Shankaras has been cleared of all charges and now been released.

The June 11 day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners is coming up soon, and on a semi-related note, some Australian comrades have produced a set of fancy vapourwave-type postcards as a fundraiser for the international anarchist defence fund.

Posted in Anarchists, Repression, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments