On the whole, 2013 wasn’t a great year; it wasn’t all terrible all the time, but on the whole it definitely felt like a year when things got worse rather than better. So, at the start of 2014, it’s nice to be able to start things off by noting a quick, clear-cut victory won by tenants organising against rip-off letting agents in Glasgow. In their own words:
“Just a brief update on the Network’s latest campaign against a Glasgow letting agency. Vivien and Hartwig received the £187 that the agency took off them as “administration fees” – illegal under Scottish Housing Law – in a cheque on Friday after a demand letter delivery in December and a brief internet campaign in January. A great outcome – thanks to great support from a great many people!
A full run-down of the campaign will follow soon.”
When we think seriously about taking on realistic campaigns, and get together with other people to demand better treatment, we can win. That message is always worth bearing in mind. Direct action and class struggle aren’t abstract theoretical concepts, or things that are restricted to the distant past or exotic foreign countries: they’re what made the difference between 1-2-Let being able to rip two tenants off and having to pay the money back. These ideas and tactics can be just as relevant to your life, and the lives of the people you know.
On that note, I’d just like to briefly plug a few upcoming events that look interesting: Boycott Workfare are holding a national Welfare Action Gathering in London on the 15th of February. The 3 Cosas campaign – another group who were able to win improvements by taking action last year and intend to follow it up with more strikes in the weeks to come – are planning a national speaking tour. On Saturday 1st Feb, there’s going to be a national rank-and-file construction workers’ meeting in Glasgow – I realise this blog is quite unlikely to reach any construction workers who wouldn’t already be aware of it, but it’s worth keeping an eye on because any action that comes out of the meeting should be supported by anyone who cares about independent rank-and-file workers’ movements. And across the country (but, let’s face it, probably mostly in the North), events will be held this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike – Durham Community Support Centre are trying to keep a complete list, so it’s worth checking if there’s anything in your area, and letting them know if there’s anything they’ve missed that you know about.
And finally, as I’ve noted before, although Israel in general gets quite a lot of attention, both in the mainstream media and in the left, stories that don’t fit neatly into the framework of the Israel/Palestine conflict often seem to get overlooked. Recent weeks have brought another fascinating example of this, as African asylum seekers (or “infiltrators”, as the government describes them) have gone on strike, held a 20,000 strong protest in Tel Aviv – a city with a total population of only 404,037 – and started a 150-strong hunger strike inside a detention centre. For some reason, this strike movement of tens of thousands of workers in a small country that occupies a hugely important place in global politics has attracted almost no attention, so if anyone can recommend any further sources of information – other than +972, who’ve been my main source of news on the subject so far – I’d be very interested to learn more.