Go Ahead strike going ahead: class struggle round-up for mid-February

A quick round up of class struggle news from the last week or so:

In workplace news, bus drivers employed by Go Ahead in Manchester will be launching an all-out strike from February 28th against the “fire and rehire” attempt to tear up their contracts. There’s a petition in support of the workers you can sign here.

A number of reps are fighting victimisation attempts at the moment – CAIWU are continuing to campaign for the reinstatement of their member Carlos Rodriguez at UEL, and on London buses, Unite rep Judith Katera has just had an appeal against her sacking heard, while another, Moe Manir, has a disciplinary with a threat of the sack scheduled for February 23rd. I’ve not yet seen anything about the outcome of Judith’s appeal. Education union NEU are asking people to sign a petition in support of Kirstie Paton, a NEU rep who’s also facing disciplinary action.

Academic staff at UEL organised through UCU are also now threatening strike action against redundancies on the 22nd and 23rd of February, and Leicester UCU are actively organising against mass redundancies there. The planned strike action at Brighton University has now been called off after reaching a negotiated agreement.

At Hestia Housing and Support, workers organised through Unite have now won the London Living Wage for the whole workforce, after the employer first tried to make an offer only to the eight employees who’d filed a grievance.

The IWGB’s Cleaners and Facilities Branch is launching a campaign calling for indefinite and mandatory furlough, and they have an online rally planned for Wednesday 17th as part of the campaign.

The United Voices of the World union has an active dispute over hours and sick pay at a Catholic school in South London, with the latest news being that cleaners have returned a 100% vote for strike action on a 93% turnout. They’re asking supporters to watch and share this video, and to send emails using this online tool in support of the dispute.

Closing out the workplace round-up, the TEFL Workers’ Union of the IWW is filing a tribunal claim over Kaplan’s use of rolling fixed-term contracts.

Onto more “political” groups/campaigns:

The No Safety No Work campaign is inviting people to an online “workers fight back against Covid injustice” meeting on February 24th. Speakers confirmed so far are a Birmingham UCU member, a NHS nurse from their pay campaign, a school support staff worker and GMB member, a gas worker and GMB member, a Coventry University rent striker, and someone from the Strike Map project.

Relatedly, new sticker designs are now available to help publicise both the No Safety No Work campaign and the Anarchist Communist Group.

Friends and comrades of Stuart Christie are now fundraising for a memorial archive to be hosted at May Day Rooms in London and accessible online.

The Notes From Below collective are hosting an online discussion on March 5th about newly-translated texts from Mario Tronti, looking at the importance of some classic autonomist/operaist writings from the 1960s.

The Angry Workers group are keeping busy: they’ve written a new general round-up of the state of the class struggle in the UK in recent months, they’re hosting a health workers’ meeting on March 11th, and they’ve launched a new podcast, with an episode discussing the recent Heathrow strike.

Also in March, there’s a two-day online conference planned to mark the centenary of the Kronstadt Uprising over the weekend of the 20th-21st.

Finally, a few notes on general community organising and similar: Acorn have published a report on their struggle over heating bills at Sheffield’s Park Hill flats, and are currently asking people to send emails in support of a Leeds family who are in dispute with their lettings agency. The Prisoner Solidarity Network is asking people to contact various authorities in response to a staff attack on a prisoner at HMP Berwyn. A mutual aid group in Bristol are fundraising to support asylum seekers held at a disused barracks in Penally, and 0161 Community in Manchester are raising money for shipping containers to increase their capacity when offering community support.

A closing round-up of relevant dates:

Feb 17th – IWGB Fair Furlough Now online rally
Feb 22nd – UEL UCU due to start strike action over compulsory redundancies
Feb 23rd – London bus driver and Unite rep Moe Manir’s disciplinary
Feb 24th – No Safety No Work meeting
Feb 28th – Manchester Go Ahead bus drivers due to go on all-out strike against fire and rehire
March 5th – Notes From Below discussion on “The Weapon of Organization: Mario Tronti’s Political Revolution in Marxism”
March 11th – Meeting for angry health workers
March 20th – Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia conference

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Pouring cold water on fire and rehire: workplace round-up for early February

A quick round-up of workplace and other news:

Security guards at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading are taking strike action over a pay dispute, and are due to be out from Monday 8th February to Sunday 7th March. In Hackney, two separate sets of school workers are both due to strike from Wednesday 10th Feb to Friday 12th over job cuts, a one-off £500 payment and health and safety issues.

Up in Manchester, bus drivers at Go North West are balloting for further action in response to the company’s attempt to push through a “fire and rehire” attack that would involve job cuts, longer hours and worse sick policies. In Liverpool, DHL supply chain workers have been taking extensive strike action over a long-running pay dispute.

Porters at Heartlands hospital in Birmingham have also been striking to resist an attempt to impose a new rota using “fire and rehire” tactics, and are currently asking supporters to email their MPs and to join a twitter storm for the evening of Monday 8th Feb. There’s an online event in support of the dispute planned, currently scheduled for Feb 25th.

Image result for heartlands birmingham strike

Probably the most prominent national dispute at the moment is the GMB British Gas strike, also in response to “fire and rehire” tactics, with twelve more days currently planned, happening as three sets of four-day strikes, starting on the 12th, 19th, and 26th of Feb. You can donate to their strike fund here, and use this online tool to email British Gas management in support of the dispute

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Another fire and rehire dispute is ongoing at Heathrow Airport, where workers are due to walk out on the 9th, 13th, 16th and 18th. For more analysis of that situation, see the Heathrow Workers’ Power blog, and their new issue of the newsletter they’ve put out for the dispute. A similar dispute by BA cargo workers has now come to an end.

In the education sector, Brighton Uni UCU will be striking for a week from the 8th onward against proposed job cuts in the IT department, and similar disputes are looming on the horizon for a number of other universities. Universities are also seeing a wave of student rent strikes at the moment.

Over in the world of grassroots unions, the UVW dispute at Sage Nursing Home continues, with staff having struck from the 4th-8th February, and supporters are being asked to use a tool to email Sage bosses and to donate to their strike fund. Other UVW members working as cleaners at a Catholic school in South London are also balloting for action over hours, sick pay and related issues.

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IWGB members at the University of London are demanding a total campus shutdown and furlough for all staff who can’t work from home in response to the covid infection rate.

Cleaners’ union CAIWU has successfully won an extension of furlough for cleaners at the BMA who were threatened with job losses, and are currently running a fundraiser to cover the funeral costs for one of their members. CAIWU also report that one of their members has been victimised and sacked at the University of East London, a move that seems to coincide with the sackings of two UCU reps at the same institution

In general, the Strike Map project is a great resource for following workplace disputes in the UK, and they’ve now started a youtube channel producing weekly videos.

Meanwhile, over in Ireland, Dublin Deliveroo couriers have been organising and taking strike action repeatedly in recent weeks.

In legal/repression news, the Prisoner Solidarity Network are campaigning against the persecution of Welsh speakers at HMP Berwyn. Freedom have some critical analysis of the court decision that overturned the convictions of the Stansted 15. The Shrewsbury 24 campaign has finally reached the court of appeal, and you can read a bit more about the arguments that were made in court here.

Finally, as part of this year’s Bloody Sunday commemorations, an online discussion was held about the case of the Craigavon 2 and the involvement of MI5 in sabotaging their appeal. ABC Ireland have also published a short summary of their case here.

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Limping into the new year: class struggle round-up for mid-January

In workplace news, there’s been a lot going on over the past few weeks. Starting with the oldest stories first, in December outsourced staff at the University of Greenwich organised through the IWGB voted to strike for equality with directly employed staff, and the IWGB have also announced their intention to start organising Amazon Flex workers. December also saw the launch of a new strike mapping project, and a police attempt to shut down a DHL picket line in Liverpool, and, in international news, the campaign of solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers managed to win some concessions, although some workers are still having to fight on for unpaid wages.

Moving into the start of this year, the big story was the struggle over the re-opening of schools. The IWW interviewed a teacher about the situation in schools, and followed it up with this report on the action. Since then, the No Safety No Work campaign has published another piece of analysis, highlighting the limitations of the Section 44 letters, and how many schools are still open and classrooms are still occupied. Elsewhere in the education sector, the UVW union has launched United Childcare Workers, a new branch aiming to organise nursery staff, and they report that nursery workers have also been walking off the job under Section 44, along with cleaners at a school in South London.

UVW are also keeping busy in other sectors, as their members working at Sage Care Home will be striking for a living wage and improved sick pay and annual leave allowances.

They suggest a number of ways to support the dispute:

  1. Donate to their strike fund, taking a large number of workers out on strike is no easy feat and having a strong strike fund will be essential to these workers winning the respect, equality and dignity that they deserve. You can donate to the workers’ strike fund here. Be sure to also share their Crowdfunder on your social media and with friends and family. 
  2. Write to the trustees of Sage using our UVW mass mailing tool, all you need to do is click this link and you can let Sage know exactly what you think about denying these workers a living wage and dignified T&Cs. You can find the letter writing tool here.
  3. Write to your MP requesting they sign Early Day Motion 1314. The Early Day Motion can be found here and you can find out who your MP is by visiting Write to Them. Finally, we have provided a template email you can use to ask your MP to sign the letter here
  4. Finally, share this story on your social media with friends and family!

Donations of up to £50 made to the strike fund before sunset on the 14th will be matched up by Jewish Solidarity Action, if you send your receipt to them on twitter or fb (or hopefully if you email it to jewsagainstboris@gmail.com). There’s an online rally/zoom call for the dispute happening on the evening of the 14th, and messages of solidarity can be sent to the strikers at sagenusinghome@uvwunion.org.uk.

In more mainstream union news, the “Battle of Barnoldswick” seems to have come to a successful end with the strike being suspended after a deal to save the site was proposed, and British Gas staff are planning further strike action against “fire and rehire” pay cuts, with walkouts planned for Wednesday January 20, Friday January 22, Monday January 25, Friday January 29 and Monday February 1. The GMB have set up a helpline for workers to report intimidation and bullying from managers, and are asking supporters to sign a message of solidarity here. You can read an interview with a striker here.

Heathrow Workers’ Power, a project from the Angry Workers/Let’s Get Rooted network, has a set of reports up from recent strikes at Heathrow, including the action by BA cargo workers. In other workplace news, Couriers in Wales have started organising through the IWGB.

In housing news, students at over 45 universities are on rent strike in January, and Acorn are holding an online meeting on Thursday 14th at 18:30 about community organising and solidarity during lockdown.

Finally, repression news: Community Action on Prison Expansion are asking people to help with their campaign against Kier Construction’s role in building new mega-prisons, and have some quick and easy online actions to take here. They also recommend sharing Corporate Watch’s articles on Kier and prison builders in general. There’s also an ongoing consultation on the proposed Bucks megaprison, with responses open until the 29th.

Anger is growing in Cardiff after Mohamud Hassan died while in the custody of South Wales Police. The situation looks volatile and likely to develop quickly, and voice.wales seems like a good source to check for updates.

Newham Anti-Raids are calling for online action against border profiteers, and have set up tools where you can email planning agent Turley and designers iDEA to object to their roles working with a planned new Home Office reporting centre.

The Colston Four are due in court on January 25th, with a solidarity presence hopefully planned, lockdown conditions permitting.


A quick selection of US prison news: anarchist prisoner Eric King has been released from his communications ban and can receive letters again. Xinachtli, an anarchist political prisoner who’s serving a lengthy sentence for defending himself against a Texas police officer in the 1990s, is eligible for parole this year and a call has gone out for letters in support of his application. Keith “Malik” Washington, an ex-prisoner currently working at the San Francisco Bay View after making parole, has had his phone confiscated after spreading the word about a Covid outbreak at the halfway house where he’s staying, and is asking for support against this latest retaliation. In Alabama, prisoners are holding a 30-day strike and economic boycott, which has been joined by several prisoners in solitary confinement going on a hunger strike. At least one hunger striker has been violently attacked by guards. Perilous Chronicle have published a full obituary for Brian McCarvill, an anarchist prisoner who died of a covid outbreak in Oregon last year.

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2020 vision: instead of a review of the year

Since starting this project in late 2010, I’ve tried to do an annual review of every full year I’ve been writing for. Since 2020 was the 10-year anniversary of starting it, I definitely thought it would be worth writing up some kind of reflection on what it means to keep one project going for a full decade, and how the online spaces that I’ve operated in have changed over that time – the final demise of indymedia, the rise and fall of left facebook, and so on. But it’s ten days into 2021 now, including some pretty eventful days, and I still haven’t managed to motivate myself to start writing it in any meaningful way, so I’ve come to accept that I won’t get it written any time soon. As for 2020 specifically, I’m finding it hard to think of much to say beyond “there was a pandemic, there were a bunch of riots, you know this stuff already.”

But some people have done a better job of reflecting on the year than me, so in lieu of my own contribution, here’s what some other people had to say:

Blogging 2020 : A Summary (Slackbastard on blogging about antifascism)

‘What an utter shitstorm!’ – AngryWorkers look back on their 2020

2020 review of the year (Drill or Drop on fracking struggles)

2020 – Year in Review (Prisoner Solidarity Network)

UVW’s 2020 Round up

TEFL Workers’ Union in 2020: a year in review

Looking ahead to the new year, the Anarchist Communist Group have a new year message here, and Community Action on Prison Expansion are asking people to join them in helping to shut down Kier Group’s involvement in building megaprisons. The ACG are also running an online public meeting about “how can we build a revolutionary movement?” on January 13th, with speakers from Angry Workers and the Co-ordination of Latin American Anarchists.

Also lots of other stuff is happening of course, a fuller overview of workplace struggles and other things will hopefully follow shortly, but I thought it was better to get something short out now rather than draft something longer and more comprehensive and end up spending another week or so on it.

Happy new year everyone, or as close to happy as we can get under the circumstances anyway.

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London ABC’s Virtual Prisoner Letter-Writing 2020

Via Freedom and London ABC:

This December London ABC wants to launch a special prisoner letter-writing: virtual, but with the same aim. Send some warmth and complicity, towards a world without cages or barriers.

To write a letter just send an email with the content to london_abc@riseup.net with the number of the solidarity card of your choice (between 1,2,3 above). Include the name of the prisoner you would like send the letter to (choose from prisoner list, or the name and the address of someone you know is inside, if not in the list) and the address you want to the reply sent back to, or you can use this address: Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX. And we’ve done, you done, ABC will provide next day delivery.

When you write us the email with the content*(that will remain strictly confidential between few people from ABC London group), don’t forget your name or pseudonym, so we can recognise you in case the person inside writes back to the Freedom Bookshop address.

*content. If it’s a problem for you to share your thoughts, no worries, we understand. But we still encourage you to write: pick a name from the list and do so in your own pace and means.

If it’s the first time for you writing a letter to an inmate have a look here.

Posted in Anarchists, Repression | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Cleaners win at Great Ormond Street, alleged statue-topplers charged in Bristol, and more workplace and repression news for mid-December

Another quick round-up of workplace and repression news:

The RMT strikes at Alstom have been suspended for the time being, with escalation planned in the new year and talks happening with other unions to try to get co-ordinated action happening soon.

The United Voices of the World union have a big victory to report at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where hundreds of outsourced staff are now being brought in to direct NHS employment. Their other main campaign at the moment is at Sage nursing home in North London, where staff have voted to strike over pay, union recognition, sick pay and annual leave. 

They write:

“If you are interested in getting involved in the campaign, now is the time, with leafleting happening over the next few weeks.  

Leafleting meet up point:  

Golders Green Station 

Times:  

Wednesday 16th December 5 – 7pm 

If you have any questions about the campaign or would like more information on leafleting, please email Isabel and Molly at sagenursinghome@uvwunion.org.uk.” 

As well as the official UVW accounts, you can also keep an eye on Jewish Solidarity Action, who’ve helped organise the leafleting in Golders Green. It’s not directly UVW-organised, but there’s a “Care Workers: Taking The Fight into 2021” event happening on December 17th, with speakers from both the UVW campaign at Sage and the We Are With You Unison strikers in Wigan.

In Brighton, students have organised a solidarity rally in support of the UCU strike aimed at defending IT staff from job cuts, on Monday 14th. You can see a calendar of other dates connected to that strike here.

A petition is being circulated demanding the reinstatement of Louise Lewis, a Kirklees NEU rep suspended after trying to arrange proper risk assessments. I’ve seen a write-up which mentions that Lewis’ union branch have balloted for strike action over the issue, but not seen any results confirmed yet.

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The IWGB are holding an online rally on Wednesday December 16 as part of their “clapped and scrapped” campaign demanding a fair grievance and dismissal process for app-based delivery workers. They’re also launching a strike ballot among outsourced staff at the University of Greenwich.

The IWW have won back pay for TEFL workers who were underpaid during the furlough period by their employer, EF Education First.

The Let’s Get Rooted/Angry Workers network are staying busy as ever, with a report from the Heathrow strikes, an interview with an Amazon worker, and a leaflet on Amazon workers’ actions in Poland that they’re distributing among Amazon staff in Croydon and Bristol. Speaking of Heathrow, it’s going to be a busy month there as British Airways staff will be taking nine days’ strike action starting on Christmas against attempts to fire and rehire – see the Heathrow Workers Power project, now on both fb and twitter, for more on that as it develops.

The No Safety No Work campaign have also just published a new interview with a nurse about conditions in the NHS.

In repression news, the big news here is that four people have been charged with criminal damage for allegedly being part of the Colston statue toppling in Bristol, with their first court date set for January 25th.

Over in the US, there’s various updates to report. Anarchist political prisoner Eric King has tested positive for the coronavirus, but the good news is that his mail ban appears to have been lifted, at least for the time being, so he can now receive letters and reading material again. He has an Amazon book wishlist here, and you can write to him at

Eric King 27090045
FCI Englewood
9595 W Quincy Ave
Littleton Co 80501

His support crew add “Please keep it light, nothing about his case, COVID, or mail ban. He misses everyone SO MUCH and just wants to hear from his friends. He was pretty sick but feels he may be on the mend.”

There’s also a legal update, he has new lawyers from the Civil Liberties Defense Centre and has had a motion to postpone his trial granted.

Friends of Dick, an organizer from Atlanta held without bail in an ICE detention facility on charges related to this summer’s uprising, have set up an email address to make it easier for people to send him letters. You can write to him at writetodick@protonmail.com, and see a bit more background on their twitter page. For more of an introduction to him, here’s an article he wrote about emotional labour last year.

Jason Walker, a writer and organizer held in the Texas prison system, is coming up for parole shortly, and there’s information about how you can support his parole bid here. Xinachtli, another radical Texas prisoner, is also eligible for parole soon but the info about his case doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere public yet. Elsewhere, there’s a call-in campaign to win clemency for Ed Poindexter, an elderly Black Liberation/former Black Panther prisoner held in Nebraska, and a call to try and get Keith “Malik” Washington, a long-time organizer who was recently released from prison and is now in a halfway house, released to home confinement.

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All out at Alstom – RMT strikes throughout December

It hasn’t been particularly well publicised (I suppose strikes that affect commuters more directly get a lot more press), but rail maintenance workers employed by Alstom will be carrying out a series of 24-hour strikes through December in response to a pay freeze. The strikes started last weekend, and upcoming dates at the moment are:


18:00 hours on Thursday 3rd December 2020 – 17:59 hours on Friday 4th December 2020

18:00 hours on Tuesday 8th December 2020 – 17:59 hours on Wednesday 9th December 2020

18:00 hours on Sunday 13th December 2020 – 17:59 hours Monday 14th December 2020

18:00 hours on Thursday 17th December 2020 – 17:59 hours on Friday 18th December 2020

18:00 hours on Tuesday 22nd December 2020 – 17:59 hours on Wednesday 23rd December 2020

In terms of what that means for actual pickets, Manchester Trades Council say:

“The workers have several more strikes scheduled and you can show support for the pickets at the Longsight rail depot (map):

  • 6-9pm on Thursday 3 December
  • 6-9am on Friday 4 December
  • 6-9pm on Tuesday 8 December
  • 6-9am on Wednesday 9 December
  • 6-9pm on Sunday 13 December
  • 6-9am on Monday 14 December
  • 6-9pm on Thursday 17 December
  • 6-9am on Friday 18 December
  • 6-9pm on Tuesday 22 December
  • 6-9pm on Wednesday 23 December [presumably this one should be am?]

Unite is currently balloting its members to join the action.

You can send support to the RMT branch via twitter @rmt_man_south

Outside of Manchester, one trot write-up mentions that there were also strikes in London, Wolverhampton, Glasgow and Liverpool, so I guess maybe check out your local RMT branch or trades council if you live in one of those areas and want to know what’s going on.

In case anyone needs a reminder of what else is happening in December, here’s the recycled listings from my previous post:

“On the 3rd, Greater Manchester Housing Action are having a “Who Profits From the Crisis?” discussion, and on the 4th students are marching in Manchester to demand reduced tuition fees, reduced academic pressure and a transparent Covid-19 action plan.

That weekend, there’s the Zero Covid day of action and the Anarchist Communist Group are holding their “Class not Nation” discussion event on Saturday 5th, and Glasgow train guards will be out again on Sunday 6th. Brighton UCU are out again on the 7th and 10th, and the 10th also sees Greater Manchester Housing Action discussing “A World Without Landlords”

The rest of this listing will get very repetitive, but here goes: Glasgow train guards will be out again on Sunday 13th, the Heathrow strike will continue on Monday 14th, Doncaster refuse workers are out over management bullying on the 15th, and Brighton uni staff are out on the 15th-16th. Heathrow staff are out on the 17th-18th, Glasgow train guards on the 20th, Doncaster refuse workers on the 24th, Glasgow train guards on the 27th, and then Doncaster refuse workers will be out on the 31st to close out the year. Seeing in 2021, the Glasgow rail strike will continue on Jan 3rd if no progress has been made by then, as will the Doncaster refuse strike on Jan 4th.”

The campaign to stop today’s mass deportation ended up having a decidedly mixed result, as 13 people were deported in the end – 13 too many, but 37 less than the Home Office wanted. There’s a further three mass deportation flights currently scheduled for next week.

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

Late November round-up: Courier strikes, rent strike victory, upcoming deportation flight and much more

Another quick roundup:

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Deliveroo and UberEats couriers in Sheffield went out on strike on Wednesday November 25th, with demands including a living wage, due process and an end to arbitrary sackings, and a hiring freeze. This last demand is one that has been criticised at times, with the recent book Class Power on Zero Hours arguing that to demand a hiring freeze is to play into divide-and-rule tactics, but as long as these companies continue to pay fixed piece rates, trying to reduce the supply of workers is going to continue to seem like an attractive option. Anyway, you can donate to their strike fund here, and check the new “Riders Roovolt” site here.

On Monday 30th, cleaners at University of East London organised through the grassroots union CAIWU are holding a protest as part of their campaign to end outsourcing and take their jobs back in-house, as recently happened at the University of London.

There’s a few updates from the UVW union: cleaners at Great Ormond Street Hospital are balloting for strike action in their own effort to become directly employed, as well as bringing a group tribunal claim for racial discrimination. Victimised security guard Cetin Avsar has gone to court seeking an injunction against his sacking, and another union member has just won £20,000 in a disability discrimination case.

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The rent strike at Manchester has won an impressive victory with a 30% rent reduction, as the movement spreads with rent strikes reported at Cambridge, Goldsmiths, and Nottingham, as well as the ongoing one in Bristol.

For more coverage on the Manchester struggle, you can read an interview with a student occupier here, and Novara have published an overview of the current student movement. In Manchester, the next step is a socially distanced march called for by the groups that have emerged from the rent strike on Friday December 4th.

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A mass deportation is planned for Wednesday December 2nd. Gal-Dem have published an introduction to the case and a few ways to protest, and there’s a linktree with a few suggestions here. You can follow the #stoptheplane hashtag or see No Borders Manchester for more updates on how to resist.

On December 5th, there’s a day of action for a “Zero Covid” strategy, along the lines suggested by the Hazards campaign and Independent SAGE.

The case of Richie Venton, the shop steward sacked by Ikea, has now been settled with Ikea agreeing to a cash settlement, which the Reinstate Richie Venton campaign are describing as a victory. You can read their reflections on the campaign, and their call for a new Scottish workers’ solidarity network going forward, here.

A few updates from the Let’s Get Rooted/Angry Workers network: their Bristol group is starting up a new solidarity network there, and they’ve just published new workers’ newsletters for Croydon and Heathrow, with the latter functioning as a strike bulletin as 4,000 Heathrow workers are due to strike in December. If you’re interested in the project, there’s also a report from their recent general meeting here.

As well as the Heathrow strike, there’s a few other disputes going on: there’s the Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick strike against redundancies and outsourcing which has now become a lockout, the strike over pay at Optare near Leeds continues and is escalating to four days a week, refuse workers in Doncaster are striking through December against bullying and harassment, Scotrail guards at Glasgow Central are taking strike action against unfair disciplinaries, and Brighton UCU will be striking in December against the sacking of IT staff. The local Unison branch, which represents the majority of the affected staff, seems to have been prevented from balloting on the issue. They (UCU, not Unison) will be having an online strike rally on the 2nd.

This month has also seen a further development in the case of Dr Issam Hijjawi Bassalat, the Scots-Palestinian defendant caught up in an MI5 entrapment operation against Irish Republicans: he has been suffering serious medical neglect at HMP Maghaberry, and now requires crutches to walk after enduring severe pain for weeks. Palestinian prisoner support network Samidoun have a statement calling for his immediate release (mostly signed by French groups, as it happens). Samidoun also have a report up on another case of repression against pro-Palestianian activists, as two people involved in campaigning against the arms manufacturer Elbit were detained by North Wales terrorism police for refusing to give over the passwords to their devices, although they’ve now been released. You can read a statement from the detained activists here.

Over in Ireland, the IWW there have issued a statement condemning the PSNI’s crackdown on Black Lives Matter protests this summer, and are calling for continued solidarity with the Debenhams workers boycott campaign.

Some more international notes: There’s an online book launch for “A Region in Revolt: Mapping the Uprisings in North Africa & West Asia, 2019-2020” happening on Sunday November 29th. Workers’ Initiative in Poland have a report up on the recent Polish Amazon workers’ actions. Brighton ABC have a report on the outcome of the Scripta Manet trials targeting anarchists in Italy. And as a reminder, the ICL-CIT fundraiser for sacked Bangladeshi garment workers continues, as does the fundraising for a BAME women’s shelter in Hull (not that that’s really international news but I had to shoehorn it in somewhere). 

So, to finish off by trying to pull a bunch of dates into a sort of festive class struggle advent calendar of strikes and other events:

Sunday 29th November sees two separate book launches, one on anti-nazi resistance by Germans, one on the recent uprisings in North Africa and West Asia, as well as an online discussion “to strategize together transnationally, building on the ongoing essential struggles of nurses, cleaners, teachers, migrants, women” and Scotrail guards in Glasgow striking against unfair disciplinaries.

On Monday 30th, cleaners at University of East London organised through the grassroots union CAIWU are holding a protest as part of their campaign to end outsourcing and take their jobs back in-house, and the IWW in Wales/Cymru are holding an online organising meeting for education and health/social care workers.

On Tuesday 1st December, Heathrow staff are taking their first day of strike action against attempts to slash their pay. On the 2nd, there’ll be a mass deportation to Jamaica if we’ve not stopped it by then, and Brighton UCU are having an online rally for the first day of their strike action against redundancies. On the 3rd, Greater Manchester Housing Action are having a “Who Profits From the Crisis?” discussion, and on the 4th students are marching in Manchester to demand reduced tuition fees, reduced academic pressure and a transparent Covid-19 action plan.

That weekend, there’s the Zero Covid day of action and the Anarchist Communist Group are holding their “Class not Nation” discussion event on Saturday 5th, and Glasgow train guards will be out again on Sunday 6th. Brighton UCU are out again on the 7th and 10th, and the 10th also sees Greater Manchester Housing Action discussing “A World Without Landlords”

The rest of this listing will get very repetitive, but here goes: Glasgow train guards will be out again on Sunday 13th, the Heathrow strike will continue on Monday 14th, Doncaster refuse workers are out over management bullying on the 15th, and Brighton uni staff are out on the 15th-16th. Heathrow staff are out on the 17th-18th, Glasgow train guards on the 20th, Doncaster refuse workers on the 24th, Glasgow train guards on the 27th, and then Doncaster refuse workers will be out on the 31st to close out the year. Seeing in 2021, the Glasgow rail strike will continue on Jan 3rd if no progress has been made by then, as will the Doncaster refuse strike on Jan 4th.

Posted in Anarchists, Health, Housing, Internationalism, Repression, Strikes, Students, Stuff that I think is pretty awesome, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Repression/legal/prison news for mid-November, and other notes

Undercover Policing Inquiry: Outrage at “Brick wall of silence” – In the  global war between rich and poor,

On the legal/repression front in the UK, the big news in recent weeks has been the start of the undercover policing inquiry. On that note, I can’t really add anything to the work of the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, who’ve been doing a great job of providing indepth daily summaries. One note worth paying attention to is that blacklisted construction worker Dave Smith was banned from mentioning the name of Carlo Sorrachi, the real name of one of the undercovers who spied on him, even though Sorrachi’s name is already in the public domain. Reel News have a short (4 minute) video on the inquiry you can watch here.

Orgreave Truth & Justice Flag/ Banner

Staying with the theme of inquiries and historic state wrongdoing, there’s a bit of news from the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign. Convictions of Scottish miners from the 1984-5 strike are due to be overturned, and the Orgreave campaign have produced a short film marking the fourth anniversary of the government’s refusal to grant an enquiry. They now also have flags for sale, so you can help spread the campaign’s message by displaying one whenever it becomes possible to have public gatherings again.

Rounding off the UK section of legal news, Novara have just published an interview with anarchist ex-prisoner John Bowden discussing his 40 years of struggle in the prison system, people up in Glasgow are currently fundraising for a prisoner support fund, and an attempt to prosecute two people in Haringey for obstructing immigration raids was just thrown out of court.

There’s also a fair bit of US repression news to catch up on. Starting off with current cases, the days around the election saw heavy FBI raids against organisers in Atlanta suspected of involvement in this summer’s uprising. Donations to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund are very much welcomed. A good indepth profile was recently published of Loren Reed, a defendant from Arizona facing serious charges for comments made on facebook during the uprising, complete with ways to help at the end. The Intercept also has a report on Plowshares anti-nuclear protesters being sentenced to federal prison.

From Eric King’s disciplinary hearing report

On more long-term prisoners, Eric King’s support team have an update:

“He can receive books and magazines from publisher or clearly marked from some sort of books for prisoners group. There is a major risk in sending him books and whatnot and that is at any minute they can and will change the rules, stop giving them to him, reject. And you can lose the money spent sending them, or the book potentially could go missing. This is something to keep in mind when sending anything.

Eric should have a review regarding his mail block soon. We really have no idea how it will play out. Once a block is in place it is so easy to just keep it in place for the prison. His illegal phone block was implemented almost 2 years and he STILL has not had his first 6 month review.”

Their update also includes a bizarre disciplinary hearing report finding him guilty of “insolence towards staff” and stating that him signing a circle-a after his name counts as “a credible threat towards staff and their families”.

Long-term Black Liberation prisoner Jalil Muntaqim was paroled after 49 years and then immediately arrested and re-incarcerated for allegedly completing a voter registration form as part of the legal documents that he filled out on his release. Anarchist hacker and former political prisoner Jeremy Hammond was also released in the last few days and doesn’t seem to have been re-arrested yet, and Jay Chase, another political prisoner entrapped by undercover cops, has also now been released.

Elderly Black Liberation prisoner and anti-authoritarian theorist Russell Maroon Shoatz, who is already suffering from cancer, has tested positive for Covid-19, and so there’s an urgent drive to get him released on humanitarian grounds. There’s also a call for the humanitarian release of Jorge Cornell, a gang-member-turned-community-organiser who was sentenced to a lengthy term on racketeering charges in retaliation for his organising, and who suffers from a number of health conditions that makes him very high-risk if infected with Covid.

There’s also a very sad piece of news to share on the topic of long-term prisoners and Covid, via anarchistreadinglist on instagram:

“Brian Caswell McCarvill died on his 68th birthday, which was Sunday, September 27th, 2020. I hadn’t seen anything about his death on any anarchist Instagram pages, nor had I heard about it on any anarchist podcasts. The lack of podcast coverage may not be true at all; I haven’t had a lot of time to listen to podcasts recently and I may have missed it.

I received a letter I had sent to Brian, returned with a sticker across Snake River Correctional Institution’s mailing address with the words, “Return to sender: Not an Oregon inmate”. I thought to myself, “That’s bullcrap. I know Brian’s at Snake River and that’s in Oregon.” I live in New Zealand, so I thought I’d better make sure by Googling to see whether he’s been transferred. I knew his release wasn’t coming until 2021.

There was nothing on It’s Going Down except the usual Prisoner Birthdays list with Brian’s birthday information on it. There were no anarchist prisoner supports sites reporting a transfer or release. I searched for him on the Oregon prisoner database but it returned no results. I thought all of this really weird and tried Googling, “Brian McCarvill Snake River”. It returned a news story (link in bio) about neglicence around COVID at Snake River and had a list of COVID-related deaths. I was hoping Brian’s name wouldn’t be on it. Unfortunately, he was listed and the date was Sept 27th, his birthday.

At this stage, I was upset. Brian had spoken about looking forward to his release and where he may be living when he got out. It was so close in the big scheme of things, especially when you think about how long he’d been incarcerated.

I’m upset that the anarchist media didn’t report his death. That no-one from our milieu seems to have been looking out for him and his circumstances in that regard. I, an anarchist of no real consequence from Aotearoa New Zealand, surely can’t have been the first person to know that Brian had died? But that’s rash and borne of emotion. Perhaps it was reported. Of course, someone must’ve been looking out for him; he had family as far as I know.

Is this normal? Is it normal for our imprisoned comrades to be name dropped on websites and podcasts but not materially looked out for? I don’t know. Is this evidence of the absolute necessity of prisoner support in our milieu? I think so. Brian’s death should’ve been noticed and reported in every major anarchist news publication. It should’ve been mentioned on every anarchist podcast. I hope there are hundreds of letters being returned to comrades who corresponded with Brian like I did. He deserved to be inundated with letters during his life in prison. He deserved to never go without materials, books, commissary funds, etc. He deserved better than to be murdered by the US prison system whose staff don’t take COVID precautions seriously and take the virus behind the walls to infect and kill inmates who can’t protect themselves. He deserved to see the outside, to be paroled, to see family and friends. He deserved better. I knew Brian only through letters, but we corresponded for years and I genuinely enjoyed knowing him. Today, my heart is broken.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be re-reading all the letters that Brian sent me and sharing anything I think should be shared. Brian should be remembered. Please write to our imprisoned comrades. Send them birthday and Christmas cards if the stupid mailing restrictions allow them. Donate to their commissary funds. Ask them how you can help. Sean Swain, Marius Mason, Michael Kimble, Eric King, Jaan Laaman, and all the other imprisoned comrades deserve the world because they’re beautiful people and they deserve better than what Brian ended up getting from those snakes at Snake River.”

For context, Brian McCarvill was a radical social prisoner who in the early 2000’s was involved in taking the Oregon Department of Corrections to court challenging their censorship and rejection of anarchist publications for prisoners with his cell mate Rob Thaxton. The ODOC was attempting to declare anarchists to be members of a Security Threat Group, sort of like a gang, based on their shared political tendency and use of language and symbols, their stances to protest unfair circumstances. By winning the court case he forced the Oregon prison system to allow anarchist materials into its prisons.

Closing off the section of US prisoner news, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, who helped organise the 2016 and 2018 nationwide prison strikes, are now selling merch to help fund their work, so if you reckon your nan would appreciate a “burn the prisons” face mask then that’s one xmas gift sorted.

There’s also been a pretty solid stream of news coming out of Belarus recently – see in particular the call for a week of solidarity with anarchists and antifascists of Belarus from November 23-30th, their fundraising campaign, and the recent open letter in support of Belarus anarchist revolutionaries. If you want more info, The Final Straw have just done an interview on the uprising, and ABC Belarus and ABC Dresden are both good for regular updates.

Iranian anarchist exile Abtin Parsa, who’s had to flee Iran for Greece and then Greece for the Netherlands, where he’s currently facing deportation threats, has issued a solidarity statement for Belarusian anarchist Mikola Dedok. You can learn more about Abtin Parsa’s own case here.

Finally, a few more miscellaneous notes that didn’t really fit anywhere else, first international then UK: the Green Anticapitalist Front have shared a report from the occupation of the historical Athens Polytechnic campus, and the International Confederation of Labour is running a fundraiser for textile/garment workers in Bangladesh who’ve been struggling throughout the pandemic against redundancies and unpaid wages. The ICL’s Polish group, Workers’ Initiative/Inicjatywa Pracownicza, have been active in the struggle to defend abortion rights in Poland, and you can read more about their involvement in an interview here.

Back in the UK, Liverpool SolFed have published a guide to the new Job Support Scheme. Hull Sisters, a shelter for BAME women in Hull, is facing eviction and fundraising for a new building. Bristol IWW are hosting a “Bristol is Ungovernable” online meeting on Monday 23rd November

On Sunday 29th, there’s the Northern (online) launch of a new book about working class resistance to the Nazis in Germany and France, and there’s also a transnational online assembly about “Essential Struggles against Patriarchal Violence” happening that day.

The Anarchist Communist Group have a few updates: the new issue of their magazine, renamed Stormy Petrel, is coming out soon, and they’ll be running a “Libertarian Communism 2020: Class Not Nation” discussion on Saturday December 5th. An audio recording from their last meeting on the Labour Party is also now available to be listened to online. The Let’s Get Rooted network is also keeping busy: new updates include a website hoping to help coordinate a Heathrow workers’ solidarity network, and their Croydon group have produced a leaflet about current Amazon workers’ struggles in Poland, as well as a more general Amazon drivers’ leaflet.

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

Housing and education round-up for mid-November

Continuing with the series of vaguely themed round-ups, a quick look at housing and education issues:

https://images.gofundme.com/6fUMXOHuwLQrwNR9FxNgp65cIc0=/720x405/https://d2g8igdw686xgo.cloudfront.net/52535948_160521331832702_r.jpeg

Recent weeks have been dramatic at the University of Manchester. The No Safety No Work campaign has a good overview:

“Staff at universities have questioned the whole logic of bringing students back to university during the pandemic. The have been proved right as bringing students back has not only put the safety of staff in jeopardy with the insistence of face-to-face teaching but also created an intolerable situation for students.

University authorities have been keen to get in this year’s intake of students, putting collection of fees ahead over safety measures around COVID-19.

On Thursday 5th November at the Fallowfield halls of residence at Manchester University students erupted in anger over fences being put up around the halls, without warning or notice. These fences blocked entry to the campus and to green spaces for exercise. Hundreds took part in tearing down the fences, expressing outage at the lock-in. The vice-chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell was forced to back down and issue an apology.

The university cynically took the money from students, then offered little or no support to self-isolating students in the halls, climaxing in the fence-in, demonstrating their contempt for students. The authorities spent £11,000 on putting up the fences and laying on security staff.

In October students responded by starting a rent strike, with 300 taking part. They demand a reduction in rent for the academic year and that more support should be provided to students in accommodation.

A week after the tearing down of the fence. 15 student rent strikers occupied the Owen Parks tower block on campus. This followed the increasing of security staff presence by the university authorities, and by their threat of police action if rent strikers staged a protest on Thursday 12th November. The occupation was met with harsh measures by security and police, who prevented food being taken in to the occupiers. Police filmed students moving around the campus.

The university then cut off internet access to the block, with compulsory online lectures the following day, in an effort to intimidate.

Student occupiers tweeted: “Students have been left behind in this pandemic: Forced into cramped overpriced accommodation, blamed for our government’s failings, and paying extortionate uni fees for substandard online learning. We demand more…”

Meanwhile Manchester University has arranged 31 charter flights for more than 7,000 Chinese students, who will end up in cramped conditions on campus, with little support, after their tuition fees of between £18,000 and £46,000 have been trousered by the university authorities.

Students and staff need to unite in their demands for an end to face-to-face teaching, no return to the university after Christmas, and a refund of fees and accommodation costs (see the article on the French school strikes).”

The MancUnion and Meteor sites are likely to continue providing further updates as that situation develops. The rent strikers have various sites listed here, and you can donate towards any legal costs for the occupiers and rent strikers here. For more updates, twitter accounts set up by students involved in the struggle include rentstrikeUoM, 9k4whatMCR, and asaferMCR.

A similar rent strike is also taking place in Bristol. Safer MCR are also calling for a demo on December 4th.

Elsewhere in Manchester, Greater Manchester Housing Action have been busy – as well as interviewing the rent strikers, they’ve also recently published articles such as “picketing landlords is good, actually” and “Organising tenants amidst the pandemic: how direct action still delivers”.

They’re also running a series of online discussions – the first one, “Is there power in a tenants union?” has now happened and can be watched on their fb page, and the other two are still upcoming:

Who Profits From the Crisis?

Thursday 3rd December 2020 7pm-8.30pm 

A World Without Landlords

Thursday 10th December, 2020, 6-7.30pm

Down in Bristol, Freedom News has a report from a traveller site that successfully resisted an eviction. Also in housing news, Acorn are currently fundraising for their anti-eviction organising. You can read a bit of what they’ve been up to recently in the “Organising tenants amidst the pandemic” article mentioned above.

Posted in Housing, Students | Tagged , , | 1 Comment