Just notes on a few bits and pieces of interest:
In workplace news, the Angry Language Brigade and London Industrial Workers of the World are supporting a group of English language teachers who’ve been left unpaid after shady businessman Craig Tallents closed their workplace down. You can read a writeup from the Angry Language Brigade here. So far, they’ve occupied the school, forced Craig Tallents to resign from the board of governors at another school, and made him pull the website and twitter page for his business Asparagus Management Consulting, which is a good start – for further updates about where the campaign will go next, keep an eye on the Angry Language Brigade blog or the IWW.
Over the other side of the Atlantic, the IWW have also been busy, scoring a major victory in their campaign at Whole Foods, with the minimum hourly wage being increased to $12.75 an hour at all Whole Foods locations across Northern California and Reno and no retaliation being taken against union activists. This is news worth celebrating and sharing, and also analysing critically: for instance, without being an expert on Whole Foods in any way, it does sound to me as though this might be another example of how worker campaigns encounter least resistance when fighting against “hippy capitalists”, who market themselves as being ethical and socially responsible, like Holland & Barrett in the UK. While fighting these kind of employers is definitely worthwhile, it’s still an open question as to how far the tactics that work against them will be effective when fighting other, larger, employers, who don’t bother trying to maintain a nice goody-goody image. Still, having said that, this is definitely an impressive win for a group of self-organised workers making real gains at a time when most of us are just barely managing to defend ourselves, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Also, this week saw an international day of action in solidarity with the Spanish anarchists arrested in Operation Pandora. Here in the UK, I’m aware of events that took place in Bristol and Edinburgh, while over in Ireland anarchists organised events on both sides of the border, in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. A follow-up is planned for next Friday outside the Spanish consulate in Edinburgh. If you’d like to help support the prisoners, but there’s nothing planned in your area, you can always write to one or more of them.
Finally, there are a few upcoming events of interest:
On Friday 30th, there’s going to be a picket of London Met University to demand the removal of Bob Lambert, the professor of policing and criminology who’s built his academic career off the back of his former position as a manipulative undercover copper. The following day, there’s going to be marches for free education in a number of cities across the country, with the London event happening as a student bloc on the March for Homes, a mass housing protest that’s also being supported by a squatters’ bloc.
Looking further ahead, Disabled People Against Cuts have called for a national day of action against Maximus on March 2nd. Maximus are the company who’ve taken over the contract for the widely-hated Work Capacity Assessment after Atos were driven out of it by claimant resistance last year, so pushing a second group of disability profiteers to abandon the WCA would be an important step closer to making the whole cruel system totally unworkable. And a few weeks after that, Unite Community are calling for a national day of action against benefit sanctions on March 19th. It’s worth considering how to make this callout most effective – for instance, would it be possible to make contact with people who’ve been sanctioned in your area, and link the general demand for an end to sanctions with a demand that the specific sanctions that specific claimants have been hit with should be overturned? Also, when thinking about an action called by a Labour-affiliated organisation shortly before a general election, it’s worth making sure that the protest has a clear message against all sanctions, whoever implements them, in order to prevent the danger of it being turned into a show of support for the pro-sanctions Labour Party.