Mass picket at Crossrail, Monday December 5, 6:30am

Via Reel News:

Rank and file electricians have had enough of being paid a third of what they’re worth on the biggest infrastructure project in the world, and walked off the job, shutting down 5 sites with unofficial strike action. They then occupied Laing O’Rourke’s offices in Oxford St, one of the contractors on Crossrail and a notorious blacklister. Now Laings are trying to move a democratically elected shop steward off the project. Time to get behind the sparks – mass picket to defend Terry Wilson on Monday December 5, 6:30am, Tottenham Court Road site. Entrance in Sutton Row, off Soho Square.

 

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Early December round-up of workplace, housing, and other news

The cleaners organising through the UVW at the London School of Economics have extended their deadline to Friday 2nd December, but if their demands aren’t met by that point they’ll be declaring a formal dispute, and there’s a demo to support them planned for 12:30 on the day. In other UVW news, the fighting cleaners’ union also have a Christmas do coming up soon, and they’re also asking for anyone who can afford it to set up a monthly donation to support their work.

Durham Teaching Assistants

Other workplace stories of note include Durham Council apparently backing down in the face of strike action from teaching assistants, several RMT disputes over staffing cuts on the London Underground, and the IWGB supporting several couriers taking their employers to workplace tribunals.

In housing news, students organising around rent at Goldsmith’s have won over £650,000 in compensation for housing issues, while Class War have held a demo targeting Patrik Schumacher, a particularly scummy architect who’s spoken of his desire to see London’s last remaining social housing gone.

In miscellaneous news, the AFN have a report on recent anti-fascist activity in Bolton, Egham and Glasgow, while the first weekend of December will see an all-day anti-fascist benefit in Bradford, a national demo against Yarl’s Wood and all detention centers, and an event remembering the Grunwick’s strike at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. The weekend after that will see the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair.

Finally, a few quick international notes: The Fight For Fifteen campaign had a “day of disruption” in the US, although it’s hard to say how far this represents genuine sustainable workplace organising as opposed to just generating headline-friendly images. Barrett Brown, the journalist who was sent down for reporting on hacks against corporate spying firms, has finally been released on parole, although he’s still paying off a ludicrous sum of compensation to the spy firm whose interests he supposedly hurt – you can donate to help him out with that here.

Over in Syria, anarchist YPG volunteer Michael Israel was killed in a raid by a Turkish airstrike, and Plan C have published a really thoughtful piece on what “solidarity with Rojava” actually means by two anarchists who’ve returned from the region.

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Shirley workers are serious: logistics workers strike on “Cyber Monday”

Workers at the Shirley, Solihull branch of “Spectrum for Arcadia”, a logistics depot that’s part of the DHL Logistics Supply Chain and supplies major brands such as Topshop and Burton’s, walked out on strike today as part of a pay dispute. It’s one of the busiest days of the year for online shopping, and presumably orders placed on “Black Friday” will still be working their way through the supply chain as well. Warehouse and other supply chain workers always have a fair amount of disruptive power, but that’s magnified in the shopping rush in the run-up to Christmas, so it’d be worth keeping an eye out for other stories like this, or the judge who ordered striking pilots back to work because their planes carried Amazon packages.

At the very least, I think it’s important to spread this news among Spectrum/Arcadia workers – I’d like to hope that the GMB would be doing this already, but who knows? A quick bit of research shows that they’ve definitely also got locations in Milton Keynes (complete with some interesting reviews from former staff) and in Leeds, so those places would seem like promising places to try and spread the action, or at least to spread the word about what the Solihull staff have been up to.

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Mid-November round-up for workplace and social struggles

Just a round-up of news across a few different areas: As well as the ongoing organising at Deliveroo, cleaners organising through the UVW union at John Lewis and the London School of Economics, and the determined all-out strike by cleaners at Kinsley Academy, there’s also an impressive dispute by workers demanding the living wage at the Ritzy and Hackney Picturehouses, featuring what I think is the first picket-line dragon I’ve ever seen:

You can donate to their strike fund here. Teaching assistants in County Durham have also been out on strike in response to a threatened pay cut, and are taking donations for a strike fund here.

In other social struggles, community organising group ACORN, having built a strong renters’ group in Bristol, and organised tenants in Newham, are looking to expand elsewhere, and just held their first workshop in Sheffield. Police Spies Out of Lives and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance will be holding a picket of the undercover policing inquiry on Monday November 21st to demand the cops stop trying to derail and undermine the inquiry. On Saturday 26th, Manchester Antifascists will be travelling over to Bolton to oppose some local fascists, and are asking attendees to get in touch with them privately as they won’t be announcing a public meet-up point. Finally, Saturday 3rd of December will be the tenth national demonstration at Yarl’s Wood detention centre, with transport arranged from London, Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, Doncaster/Sheffield, Oxford, Bath, Leeds, Brighton and York.

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Food for thought: new organising initiative and bulletin for Deliveroo staff

The growth of grassroots workers’ organisations at “gig economy” companies like Deliveroo and UberEats has been one of the few bright spots in the last few months, and this seems to be part of an international trend to judge by recent news from Italy. But so far, one major limitation has been the way that organisation and resistance has been localised in London, with little information available about the conditions of workers at the same companies elsewhere.

Now this could be set to change: Bristol Deliveroo workers have started organising through the local IWW branch, and a new bulletin is being produced with the aim of helping Deliveroo workers in the UK and nationally to communicate and organise.

Anyone with an interest in helping spread workers’ self-organisation can help get the Rebel Roo bulletin into the hands of Deliveroo riders near you: you can get copies by emailing rebelroouk (at) gmail (dot) com, or anyone who has access to a printer or photocopier at work can make their own easily enough. If you don’t know where to find Deliveroo riders in your area, you can find which restaurants have contracts with them by checking this list, or by entering your postcode here.

As ever, an injury to one is an injury to all, and the spread of communication, organisation and confidence among Deliveroo workers would help shift things in a direction that could benefit us all.

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Updates on cleaners’ struggles in London and West Yorkshire

Down in London, cleaners organising through the grassroots UVW union are on the verge of striking at the London School of Economics – they’ve told management that they have until Friday 18th to put them on terms and conditions equal to those of in-house staff, and failure to end the two-tier system will lead to industrial action. Cleaners at John Lewis are also pursuing a similar dispute through UVW, demanding to be made full members of the partnership and enjoy the same conditions as all other John Lewis staff. It sounds like there’ll be more news coming from the LSE soon, and you can also find out more about what London’s militant cleaners are up to by dropping by their Christmas party, which’ll be on Saturday December 10th.

Further North, three cleaners at an academy in Wakefield have been waging an incredibly impressive all-out strike, which has now been going on for over ten weeks. The latest news in their dispute seems to be that the council are saying they “made a mistake” by forgetting to tell the cleaning contractors to not cut their pay, which seems pretty bizarre all round. If you’re within travelling distance of Kinsley, they’ve got a benefit gig happening at Kinsley Coronation Working Men’s Club on December 3rd; and anyone anywhere can support them by emailing Wakefield Academies Trust at admin@wcatrust.org to ask them to put pressure on the cleaning contractor, C&D Cleaning, to settle the dispute and pay the three a living wage. You can also donate to their strike fund by making a cheque out to Wakefield Unison and sending it to 18 Gills Yard, Wakefield WF1 3BZ.

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Against the Close Supervision Centre torture regime: Friday 18th November at HM Inspectorate of Prisons

It’s no secret that the UK prison system is in crisis: even if the situation hasn’t yet reached the levels of open conflict seen in US prisons, every day seems to bring new headlines like screws staging a mass unofficial walkout or the horrors of IPP sentences being extended indefinitely.

Now Kevan Thackrar, a prisoner held in the secretive Close Supervision Centre, is calling for supporters to demonstrate outside HM Inspectorate of Prisons on Friday 18th November to raise awareness of this little-known “torture regime” within British prisons. As he describes it:

The Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system is the English version of American supermax prison conditions, indefinite solitary confinement within the most oppressive and brutal environment found in this country, which can appropriately be called torture camps. Psychological warfare is used upon its victims on a constant basis, with frequent physical attacks supplementing the arbitrary punishment. As only around 50 prisoners fall victim to the CSC at any one time its existence is largely unknown even amongst the general prison population, so it is not surprising that the wider public are so poorly informed that almost no-one protests that taxes are being spent to torment vulnerable captives who are also British citizens…
Since I was first allocated to the CSC in March 2010, HMIP have only once ‘inspected’ the CSC. Although they were provided with extensive detail of the abuses which were taking place, they chose to omit all of the most serious and gloss over those that actually made it into the report. HMIP effectively endorsed the torture regime which had the obvious consequence of life on the CSC becoming more anguished, and have not even bothered to perform their mandatory follow-up ‘inspection’ to see the effects of their actions. The suicide of Joanne Latham (AKA Eddie Brown, AKA Edward Latham) on the CSC has been one of the direct results of the continuing deterioration, but also of the structure of the CSC itself which causes severe mental illness and exacerbates preexisting medical issues amongst its residents so much so that around 50% end up damaged to the extent it becomes necessary for them to be removed from prison to one of the high secure mental health hospitals (Broadmoor, Brampton, Ashworth)…

It is about time that HMIP learned they can no longer ignore the CSC system or be allowed to prop-up its existence with corrupt reports, the CSC has been in operation since 1998 and must be condemned as the abomination it is. To achieve this end, I am calling on every person with some level of compassion and humanity for their fellow man and all those disgusted at what their taxes are funding to attend a demonstration protest outside the offices of HMIP. This has been organised to take place on:
Friday 18th November 2016 from 12.30pm – 2.30pm at HM Inspectorate of Prisons, 6th Floor, Victory House, Kingsway, London, WC2B 6EX, and all those unable to attend are encouraged to write demanding they address the CSC system immediately either directly or through their MP for greater impact. Support can also be shown as well as more being found out about the horror of the CSC by visiting the website WWW.JUSTICEFORKEVAN.COM, joining the group at www.facebook.com/justiceforkev, signing the petition on http://www.change-org/p/justice-for-kevan, or by writing to Kevan Thakrar A4907AE, HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF2 9AG”

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