This was meant to be an International Women’s Day post, but my computer crashes a lot. Nevermind, if this stuff is worth thinking about on March 8th, then it’s worth thinking about on March 9th.
This post doesn’t really have a specific focus as such, it’s just another round-up of developments in ongoing struggles in the UK. To start off on a topical note, women in Liverpool chained themselves to the railings of Liverpool Town Hall yesterday to highlight the impact of cuts and austerity on women.
Another group of women fighting back at the moment are the Focus E15 Mothers, who are campaigning for social housing so they can afford to continue living in London after Newham Council evict them from their current homes. Johnny Void and Kate Belgrave have both written well about the campaign, and they continue to hold weekly stalls in London, as well as directly confronting the politicians responsible for the decision to make them homeless.
Continuing on the International Women’s Day theme, Police Spies Out of Lives is a group supporting women who’ve been harmed in a deeply personal way by the state: the partners of undercover policemen who systematically lied to them for years in order to preserve their cover. They’re planning to picket the Royal Courts of Justice on the morning of Tuesday 18th March, as part of a broader week of action running from the 17th-21st. If you can’t make it down to join their picket, there’s still a number of other ways you can support their fight for justice, such as signing up to their basic statement.
While the eight women bringing this case are perhaps those who’ve been hurt most deeply and intimately by spycops, they’re definitely not the only people to have been affected by police surveillance and repression. The recent Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance launch meeting in London brought together a number of different groups affected by this issue, including the family of murdered teenager Stephen Laurence, anti-racist and climate change activists, and workers who were blacklisted after raising concerns about health and safety at work at sites such as Crossrail. This week brought a tragic reminder of just how vital workplace safety is, after a worker lost their life in an accident on the Crossrail project. The Site Worker blog has a very moving piece by Stewart Hume on the true cost of industrial accidents, as well as some ideas on how to raise the profile of workplace health and safety on International Workers’ Memorial Day, which falls on Monday 28th April this year.
International Women’s Day wasn’t the only notable date this past week; it was also the 30th anniversary of the great miners’ strike, an event which in many ways shaped the Britain we live in today. The Durham Community Support Centre have a listing of many events commemorating the occasion, and the 30th anniversary facebook page is also worth a look. Those of us who were born after the miners were defeated have never seen a struggle on the scale and intensity of what happened in 1984-5, so it would be good to try and get to some of these to hear some of the lessons that were learned when a previous generation entered into open conflict with their employers and the state.
In more contemporary workplace news, care workers in Doncaster have staged a determined seven-day strike against pay cuts and plan more action to come, and Brighton Solidarity Federation report that their organising among hospitality workers is paying off – literally paying off, as several workers have managed to force their employers to cough up unpaid wages.
Finally, a look at upcoming actions over three key issues in the ongoing fight over welfare “reform”: Boycott Workfare are calling for a week of action at the start of April to coincide with the introduction of Community Work Placements, the new plan to sentence claimants to six months of unpaid work. The organisers of last month’s stunningly successful national demonstration against Atos are planning to keep the pressure up with a day of action on April 1st aiming to ensure that the Work Capacity Assessment is not just handed over to a different contractor but scrapped altogether. And finally, the start of April will also the be the anniversary of the introduction of the bedroom tax. It’s not been a great first year for the bedroom tax, and more successful appeals are coming in all the time, so hopefully a good turnout for local demos across the country could help make sure that it doesn’t stay around for too much longer, especially if they’re not just about venting anger at the politicians in Westminster but also focus on the councils and housing associations implementing the policy on a local level. As ever with the bedroom tax, the lack of national co-ordination makes it hard to tell exactly how much is going on across the country, but there’s definitely events planned for Leeds, Huddersfield, Greater Manchester, Milton Keynes, Bristol and London, so there may well be something going on in your area as well.
That’s all for now. Happy day after international women’s day, everyone!