Late June round-up of workplace, legal and other news

A quick roundup of ongoing struggles and upcoming events:

At SOAS, an occupation’s just ended after occupiers received confirmation that:

  • The refectory will remain open, and staff redundancies have been reversed.
  • All catering staff will be moved onto the better terms offered to other outsourced SOAS staff under the IFM contract, by 1st of August 2017.
  • Negotiations will begin with Elior to end all zero-hours contracts.
  • Negotiations with Unison will ensure that catering staff receive the unpaid London Living Wage increases in full.

At the Ritzy in London, there’s been an ongoing community picket since a number of workers were sacked for their union activity. If you’re in the South London area, contact South London supports the Picturehouse strikers to get involved. There’s also an upcoming strike date on July 1st, although I’m not sure if that’s just Hackney or if other Picturehouse locations will also be involved.

Throughout the upcoming week, the Scottish Action Against Austerity alliance will be taking action over disability benefits, mainly in Edinburgh and Dundee. On Monday 26th, people in Barnet will be demanding immediate action over dangerous housing there. On Wednesday 28th, Plan C Manchester are hosting a discussion on what to do after the election, and London Anarchist Federation are doing the same on Thursday 29th. On that subject, the Angry Workers of the World recently published an article on “From Solidarity Networks to Class Organisation in Times of Labour Hallucinations”, which is brilliant and well worth reading for anyone thinking about these questions – in the past I’ve complained about some criticisms of Labour being far too abstract when it comes to what an alternative could look like, and the AWW piece is the exact opposite, a very rooted examination of what it actually means to try and put anarchist/communist ideas into practice in West London in 2017.

Thursday 29th will also see a demonstration against planned evictions in Edinburgh, which sounds pretty important if anyone’s in the area.

Further ahead, workers at Barts Hospital have voted for strike action by a stunning 99%, with the plan being a three day strike starting on Tuesday 4 July, followed by a seven day stoppage starting on Tuesday 11 July and then a 14 day strike starting on 25 July.

In legal/repression/prison news, as well as the upcoming verdict in the Jobstown trial, there’s a few pieces of breaking news coming in from the US: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, a revolutionary prisoner and organiser who’s been a thorn in the side of the Texas prison system for a while, has suddenly been moved and no-one knows where he is, so there’s an appeal to contact those who are meant to be in charge and find out what’s going on. Steve Martin just got sentenced for his participation in the Ferguson uprising of 2014.

As a reminder, upcoming events on this subject include the international day of solidarity with anarchist prisoner Eric King on June 28th, the fortnight of action against indefinite sentences in the UK from 9-23 July, the birthday of Ferguson prisoner Dakota Moss on July 17th, and the international day of solidarity with antifascist prisoners on July 25th.

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Justice for Edson: Forest Gate police station, 2pm, Sunday 25 June

According to BLM UK:

Clarification: The protest for Edson tommorow is NOT cancelled.

Conflicting messages floating around. A lot of pressure seems to have been exerted by the police to make sure it doesnt go ahead. Family have formally withdrawn support.

This event was not called by Edson’s family (and not by BLMUK either) but by his community.

Protest will carry on as planned. Black folks have a right to assemble. Our grief is justified.

#JusticeForEdson #BlackLivesMatter

✊🏿

If you’re thinking of attending, and have access to a printer, printing off a few sheets of bust cards in case of police hostility might be a good thing to do, as would bringing a few extra strips of lightweight, easily-breathable fabric to help cover the faces of people who might not want the cops to identify them.

You can also donate to cover the costs of Edson’s funeral, any legal expenses, and generally supporting his family here.

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Jobstown trial: verdict expected on Monday 26th, pack the court!

The long-running Jobstown trial of people accused of “false imprisonment” for sitting down in the road in front of a politician’s car and then walking slowly down the street is finally coming to a close. The verdict is expected on Monday 26th, so there’s a call for anyone who can make it to get down to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin then.

Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, a man who knows a thing or two about what real false imprisonment looks like, has made a video giving his support for the campaign:

A few highlights from the closing arguments, as summarised by the defence campaign: in the prosecution’s closing statement, they apparently referred to a vote taken by the protestors as “…not “a meeting like that in a literary society in Trinity College”, but “a betrayal of democracy”. It’s telling that the prosecution views democracy as something to be enjoyed by scholars in Trinity but not by ordinary people making decisions based on popular vote!

Continuing on from that, part of prosecution’s case against Scott Masterson is that he chanted “no way, we won’t pay”(So, participation in peaceful protest). They then went on to say that the slow march of Burton’s Garda jeep out of Tallaght portrayed by the prosecution as “just another form of confinement”.”

And from the defence’s closing statements: “The context of the Jobstown protest was a loss of confidence in “democracy”, the same as has happened internationally since austerity and the crash, where people all around the world are rejecting established politicians and the political system itself.

The economists’ language of austerity gives impression that what we have endured is just a “tightening of our belts” but what the poor and the working poor including in Jobstown have suffered is more properly described as a biblical form of “affliction”.

The defence then reminds the jury about the Labour Party’s election manifesto and its promise not to introduce water charges, the infamous ‘every little hurts’ Tesco ad and Gilmore’s promise of “Labour’s way, not Frankfurt’s way”. Eamonn Gilmore described the Tesco ad as “a decisive communications intervention”, but those who wrote it didn’t pay any attention to the specific promises in it, they literally didn’t know or care and failed to prevent any of those measures from being implemented, they abandoned them all during the negotiations for the Programme for Government in which Burton was a leading member. This speaks of “a deep pool of corrosive cynicism”.

The defence then goes on to say that the Jobtown protest was a spontaneous protest, which means no one was directing it. There’s been an attempt by the Gardaí to impose on a spontaneous event a particular legal perspective that isn’t justified.”

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London latest: police killing in Newham, dangerous flats in Barnet

New developments in London: the police have killed a man, Edir Frederico Da Costa, known as Edson, in Beckton, Newham. I don’t know what the response will look like yet, but see the JusticeforEdson hashtag to keep up with that situation as it develops.

Meanwhile, residents in Barnet have found that Merit House on Edgware Road had work done by Rydon, who installed the same cladding used on Grenfell Tower. They’ll be attending Barnet Council’s housing committee meeting on Monday June 26th to demand immediate action.

Just as a reminder, today also sees a demonstration in support of Kate Wilson, a woman tricked into a relationship with an undercover cop who’s now suing the police, a benefit event in solidarity with imprisoned Greek anarchist communist Tasos Theofilou, and a discussion with US IWW comrades about organising in the low-wage sector there. Tomorrow, the far-right will be out on the streets in central London and Birmingham, and then in Edinburgh on Sunday.

As a general point, it feels like things in London – especially with whatever kind of response comes to Edson’s death – are likely to be quite tense and there’s a possibility that confrontational situations will develop. If you’re going into a situation where you think there’s any chance that police will be targeting people for arrest, and you have access to a printer, taking the time to print off some bustcards to give to other people is a really simple and practical way to help. Also, if you have time to visit a market or fabric shop, it’s pretty simple to buy a decent length of lightweight, easily breathable fabric, and then a quick bit of work with some scissors can turn it into a number of masks.

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Dublin: Urgent request to show up for the last days of the Jobstown trial

The long-running Jobstown trial, where several people are facing the serious charge of false imprisonment (kidnapping) for a sitdown protest that caused a politician’s car to be delayed by several hours, is finally coming to an end. The defence campaign are asking for people to be present at the Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice today, tomorrow, Thursday or Friday (or as many days as they can make it), for the closing arguments and the judge’s instructions to the jury.

The defence campaign have also been really consistent about making videos to expose the lies coming from the prosecution – here’s their latest, compiling the contradictory testimony that’s come from the cops over the course of the trial:

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Workplace, antifascist and other struggles: late June-early July round-up

Another round-up of upcoming events across a few different fronts:

Two ongoing disputes, where things are happening very quickly, are at SOAS and Picturehouse Cinemas. At SOAS, the Justice for Workers group occupied the directorate in response to job cuts, but have just been driven out by a fire alarm being set off – the situation’s likely to develop further, so keep an eye on their fb and twitter for more news. At Picturehouse, three more staff have just been sacked for union organising at the Ritzy Cinema. Workers responded with a demo this weekend, and it seems likely that there’ll be more to come – see A Living Wage for Ritzy Staff for updates as they come in.

Coming up on Tuesday 20th June, Plan C London are hosting a post-election discussion on what happens next. On Thursday 22nd, security officers at the University of London organised through the IWGB are taking strike action over pay and contracts again. In other IWGB news, the second episode of their podcast, Unworkable, is out now, taking a look at workplace surveillance. Meanwhile, up in Scotland, that day will see a discussion of “Disability, Benefits and the Capitalist State” in Glasgow and a presentation by Castlemilk Against Austerity in Dundee. On Friday 23rd, there’s a demonstration in support of Kate Wilson, one of the women who was tricked into a relationship with an undercover cop, as the police are applying to have the entire case held in secret. Also happening that day, the Angry Workers of the World will be holding the next of their transatlantic conversations, with Scott Nappalos of the IWW and the Recomposition blog, along with his comrades Monica and Juan, talking about low wage struggles and workers’ experiences in the US. You can see some preliminary reading here, along with a written version of the text from the previous talk.

That weekend will see a whole load of antifascist events across the country – up in Manchester, the antifascist 0161 Festival will be running across the whole weekend, and Saturday 24th will see Britain First try to march through Birmingham and the EDL in London. Then the Scottish Defence League will be making a nuisance of themselves in Edinburgh on Sunday 25th. Antifascism has taken on a renewed urgency in the wake of the surprisingly successful far-right demo in Manchester, as reported on by Plan C and the AFN. Also on the topic of antifascism, Michelle Smith, the Liverpool comrade who was jailed for confronting nazis in Dover last year, is interviewed on the most recent episode of the No Prisons podcast – the interview starts at around 40 minutes in if you don’t have the time to listen to the full thing.

Speaking of prisons, June 28th should be an international day of solidarity with anarchist prisoner Eric King, if you fancy sending him a nice postcard or something.

The week of the 23rd-30th is supposedly a Scottish week of action over disability benefits, although I’ve not seen much in the way of specific details so far. That week will definitely see an important demonstration against evictions in Edinburgh on Thursday 29th.

Looking into July, BA cabin crew will be striking again for two weeks from the start of the month, and cleaners at Barts Health have voted to strike – there’s not too much detail available so far, but according to the NSSN bulletin “It will be the largest strike in the NHS this year of almost all migrant workers, mostly female from East and West Africa.  Key dates – 1. 4 July when we will have a demo in front of the Barts hospital when the strike starts (24 hour strike) 2. 11 July – a large march from RLH to Barts a week later when the all-out strike begins.” There’s also the fortnight of action against IPP (indefinite) sentences running from 9-23 July.

ippfortnightofaction

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Grenfell Tower: more ways to help

In addition to the various humanitarian appeals that are going around, there’s now a fighting fund specifically for Grenfell Action Group, to help them take on those responsible for the disaster. In addition, a new website, Grenfell Support, has been set up “to support co-ordinating and streamlining solidarity efforts for the residents and community of Grenfell”, so please have a look to see how you can get involved on the ground.

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